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Manuscript Type

Article

Abstract

This article examines the portions of the ecclesiastical-inquisitorial trial of the Czech priest, Jan Hus, which occurred during the Council of Constance in 1414 and 1415. The main question applied to the sources attempts to answer the concern around why Hus was condemned to death. The investigation looks carefully at the extant primary sources from the trial and its immediate aftermath. Since the Hus process was a heresy trial, the place and relevance of medieval canon law on that topic emerges as a central and foundational focus. The article identifies the charges against Hus which culminated at Constance, their context, and their relation to medieval law. The essay summarizes the relevant theological, political, and legal factors which led to the conclusion that issues of power and authority legalistically applied obligated the Latin Church to burn Jan Hus as a contumacious heretic. While morally objectionable and ethically arguable, traditional and prevailing legal mores justified and fully supported the outcome of the Hus trial which resulted in consigning the defendant to the stake. Put succinctly, from a strictly medieval legal point of view Hus was punished appropriately.

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