Six hundred years ago, the Czech priest Jan Hus (1371-1415) traveled out of Bohemia, never to return. After a five-year legal ordeal that took place in Prague, in the papal curia, and finally in southern Germany, the case of Jan Hus was heard by one of the largest and most magnificent church gatherings in medieval history: the Council of Constance. Before a huge audience, Hus was burned alive as a stubborn and disobedient heretic. His trial sparked intense reactions and opinions ranging from satisfaction to accusations of judicial murder.
Thomas A. Fudge offers the first English-language examination of the indictment, relevant canon law, and questions of procedural legality. In the modern world, there is instinctive sympathy for a man burned alive for his convictions, and it is presumed that any court that sanctioned such an action must have been irregular. Was Hus guilty of heresy? Were his doctrinal convictions contrary to established ideas espoused by the Latin Church? Was his trial legal? Despite its historical significance and the controversy it provoked, the trial of Jan Hus has never before been the subject of a thorough legal analysis or assessed against prevailing canonical legislation and procedural law in the later Middle Ages.
The Trial of Jan Hus shows how this popular and successful priest became a criminal suspect and a convicted felon, and why he was publicly executed, providing critical insight into what may have been the most significant heresy trial of the Middle Ages.
Thomas A. Fudge is a historian of medieval and reformation Christianity, specializing on Jan Hus and Hussite history. He holds a PhD in medieval history from Cambridge and a PhD in theology from Otago University. He is the author of seven books. Appointed to a professorial chair in 2003, he has held academic appointments in the United States and New Zealand and now teaches at the University of New England in Australia.
"Fudge (Univ. of New England, Australia) painstakingly examines the case for and against Hus... Essential." --CHOICE
"Professor Fudge has written an engaging analysis of the often bewildering judicial apparatus at play in the trial and condemnation of Jan Hus. Hus continues to engender strong feelings, six centuries after his death at Constance (a city still referred to in Czech as 'Kostnice,' or 'ossuary'). Fudge's thesis will contribute to the ongoing discussion about the notion of heresy and its historiography, while providing a useful introduction to its formal prosecution in the later middle ages."--Stephen E. Lahey, author of John Wyclif
"Thomas Fudge casts new light on the trial of John Hus in 1415, examining its context in medieval law. He makes an important contribution to scholarship, showing that Hus failed to understand the laws about heresy applied at the Council of Constance. Hus emerges from this study as brave and dedicated but fatally naïve."--Thomas Izbicki, co-editor of The Church, the Councils, & Reform: The Legacy of the Fifteenth Century
"Thomas Fudge has written an exceptional reappraisal of one of medieval Europe's most notorious heresy trials. Without relinquishing any of his deep sympathy for Hus's sincerity and goals, Fudge concludes that he was indeed heretical and that his trial was legal. Meticulous scholarship is matched with a persuasive prose style, and this passionate but objective study has profound implications for future research into how the late medieval church responded to dissent."--Norman Housley, Professor of History, University of Leicester