In the early 15th century, Europe shook in fear of an incredible fightig force - the Hussites, followers of the reformist clerc, Jan Hus.
Born to poor parents in a small Bohemian town Husinec, Jan Hus became one of the most important religious thinkers of his day. His objections to the Catholic Church´s corrupt practices, opulent style and wealth were shared by many Czechs - nobles and peasants alike. His reformist preaching in Prague´s Betlehem Chapel earned him a huge following, noticed by the Roman Papacy, and Hus was excommunicated. In 1412 Wenceslas IV, brother of the Emperor Sigismund, asked hím to leave Prague.
In October, 1414, Hus decided to defend his teaching at Council of Constance. Even though he had the Emperor´s safe conduct, he was put in prison. The follwoing year he was declared a heretic and burned at the stake.
After suffering death at the hands of the Church on 6 July 1415, Jan Hus became a revered martyr of the Czechs.
" The Hussites were a following which gained momentum from the ideas of a priest and university professor burned at the stake, they were a following that grew into armed resistance with the intensity, strength and cosciousness of its aims. With the Hussite Revolution the Czechs and their first great impact on European order, they were not conquerors, but heralds of a new spirit, an idea born in Bohemia which became a myth for Western Civilisation, and a thorn in the side of all supporters of one rule.
Defeat came only after 20 years of victory and resistance in 1431. The Hussites were betrayed by members of their own ranks, achieving what five of the pope´s Holy Crusades had failed, the crisis in Europe appeared to end at last, and the Czech kingdom was left to recover.
During this period of greatest defeat, a movement without equal was formed the Union of Brothers (Brethren). For the first time since early Christianity a pure Church existed again, a small island in teh Vatican sea. As with the early Christians the Union´s members were hated and suffered persecution, even at the hand of their own king. It would be seventy years before Martin Luther would burn the Papal Bull at the Elster gate in Wittenberg, and a full century before the Protestant faith would be recognized in the Augsburg Diet of 1555."
"While studying some books, Jan Hus´s follower Jakoubek of Stribro discovered that the divine ritual of communion, the taking of bread and wine, had been annulled as late as the end of the first millennium. A hundred years before Luther Jakoubek began offering ritual wine in a chalice
to express a return to earlier Christian ideals, and the challice soon became the symbol of the entire Hussite movement, a symbol loved by the common folk, and abhorred by the Pope."
Church of St. Salvator
On 9 July 1609, under partial pressure from the Czech nobility, Rudolph II Habsburg issued his famous "Majestat", by which he legislated the people´s right to religious worship.
A little over two years later he would be forced to sign a less honourable edict, declaring his abdication, which would leave him only his Czech monarchial titles, the Prague Castle, as well as some of his gentry, and his beloved court musicians, who would play an interesting role in one of the few extraordinary events remaining in the monarch´s life.
For years the Czech and Moravian nobility pressed for the recognition and right perform Protestant services in the Czech kingdom, a freedom they were granted under Rudolph´s rule.
At the end of the year, one month after Rudolph lost his throne, the church was to become a symbol of Protestant victory was founded.
Many anti-Habsburg forces had a hand in its construction, from European monarchs including English, Danish, Swedish kings, to over sixty imperial Protestant princes, the Dutch nobility, and over one hundred counts. Almost forty Euroepan universities were involved, as well as four hundred Protestant towns and three hundred aditional individuals.
History has many strange twists and turns, and so it was that the musica figuralis et instrumentalis performed as the foundation stone was laid, this was the same musical ensemble borowed from the recently abdicated emperor.
The Church of St. Salvator did not bask in fame for long, the Catholics claimed it for themselves after the executions on the Old Town Square in 1621. It was turned into a mint a century later during the reforms of Joseph II, and it was only in 1863 that it once again became a holding of the Evangelical parish, which founded its greatest Prague assembly there.
The Old Town Square has always been one of the important sites of Prague, the heart and the centre of historical events, coronations, demonstrations and mass gatherings, it was also the site of many public executions, the most famous of which took place after the Battle of the White Mountain in 1621.
"21 June 1621 was the date set for the executions on the Old Town Square, the city was full of the emperor´s soldiers, and thirt-one worekrs put together scaffolding for all to see, covered with black cloth for greater dramatic effect. The horrific event began at dawn and each execution was preseded by a drum-roll. In all, twenty-seven men were put to death. Some of the heads
of the condemned were then displayed in iron cages on te Old Town Bridge Tower of Charles Bridge, where they remained till 1631."
A religious war the likes of which Europe had never seen followed the Battle of the White Mountain, and spread quickly throughout most of the continent.
"In 1631, during the Thirty Years War, the Protestant Saxons occupied Prague, allowing many Czech exiles to return. It was a period when the heads of executed Czech noblemen were removed from the Old Town Bridge Tower and piously transferred to the Tyn cathedral. The ultimate place of burial was kept secret, an act of foresight considering the many turns that the Thirty Years´ War would take. A coffin with eleven skulls was found in the Tyn cathedral in 1766, in all probability the eleven original heads, but another legend speaks of a different fate, according to the story, the heads of the noblemen were secretely transfrred to the Church of St. Salvator while the Saxons were still in Prague. Legend has it that every June 21st (the day of execution) the dead noblemen rise from their graves and first worship at the altar, then depart for the Old Town Square where they were put to death. Under the face of the Old Town Astronomical Clock, they divine the future of the Czech nation."
text : Jiri Kuchar - "Praha esotericka"
Our popular tours are outlined on our web sites: