IN THE EUROPEAN CRISIS
and aristocracy adopted German customs and even the German language.
2. From the fourteenth century Bohemia has really played a decisive mile in European history; from her came the great reforming movement which has stirred up the world. The period during which the new Luxemburg dynasty linked Bohemia to the Empire and the French West coincided with a Czech literary revival which repudiated the influx of unwonted luxury and refinement, and was brought home to the masses of the nation by able preachers. The University of Prague, founded by Charles IV. in 1349, became the centre of culture for Bohemia and her neighbours. John Hus and his noble friend, Jerome of Prague, became the great torchbearers of the Reformation. Their death inflamed the whole Bohemian nation against Rome and the treacherous Emperor Sigismund.
The Hussite Reformation of Bohemia was the inauguration of modern spiritual life. Hus opposed the individual conscience and the Bible to the authority of the Church and of Rome, and thus became the forerunner of the Reformation: but his true significance lies in his moral teaching and death. There were many heretics before Hus; but Hus involved the whole Bohemian nation in his heresy, and as Rome, making use of Germany, tried to crush Bohemia by means of crusades, the Hussite war is a landmark in European thought. Bohemia held not only Germany but the whole of Europe at bay, and Ziska, the leader of the victorious Hussites, became the inventor of modern strategy.
The Hussite Reformation was essentially one of life and of morals. The Hussites became anti-clerical; and even today clericalism in Bohemia is considered the enemy of true religion. Being conservative in its theological teaching and radical in its moral endeavor, Hussitism soon became radical in its teaching also. The Taborites had al-