Today again a little crossover with the Behind the Iron Curtain series.
Jan Hus and Jan Žižka are to this day considered great figures of Czech history. Even the communist regime venerated these two men to a great degree, so much so that it was during this regime that one of the largest bronze equestrian statues in the world was made to commemorate Jan Žižka in 1950. And movies were made about both. Today, we also have a national holiday on the day Jan Hus was burned at the stake.
We were taught in school that Jan Hus was a great reformer who has challenged and criticized the corruption within the catholic church, and that was true. We were taught that he has sparked a national movement that has fought against the hegemony of said corrupt, hypocritical, and oppressive church, and that was also true. However what was ignored was that he also sparked a fanatical religious movement that was not solely inspired by a desire for a better and juster society, but also by a merely different interpretation of holy writ.
As for Žižka, he was and is considered to be one of the greatest Czech warriors there was, and perhaps in history, as this short video suggests.
We were taught about his military successes, especially about the fact that he was able to take a bunch of peasants and merchants and convert them into a fighting force capable of defeating several crusades consisting of professional soldiers who trained in combat from childhood. What we were not taught was that he also burned at stake several dozen of “heretics” who took reinterpreting the scripture way too far for his liking.
To this day there is a lot of people who romanticize Jan Hus, Jan Žižka, and the whole Hussite movement. Perhaps there is some value in that. But I think it is also important to remember that whilst they were somewhat progressive in their times, today they would probably both be considered insufferable religious fanatics. They certainly would not approve of today’s Czech atheism.