Page:The voice of an oppressed people.pdf/49

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Hus himself declared more than once that he preferred a German who was right to a Bohemian who was wrong. Hussitism is the practical, political and social embodiment of John Hus's command: "Seek the truth, hear the truth, learn the truth, love the truth, speak the truth, hold to the truth, defend the truth even to death."

This deep moral reformation brought the Bohemians to love their nation, and to defend it against German aggression led by the Church; it thus became a barrier to the German Drang nach Osten, though it was not so much national as moral and religious.

Hussitism, chiefly in the form of the Brethren's movement, spread to Slovakia and to Poland, and had a great moral influence even on the Germans. Luther himself, as is well known, confessed: "We are all Hussites." On the other hand, the later Reformation of Switzerland, France and Germany exercised a great influence over the Hussites, who to a great extent accepted Protestantism. Only about one-tenth of the nation remained in the Roman Catholic Church—principally the higher aristocracy.

3. The Hussite wars in the end weakened Bohemia. At the same time the Turkish menace against Central Europe induced Hungary, Austria and Bohemia to unite in a free federation (1526.) At first, all three States remained entirely independent, linked only by personal or rather dynastic ties. Nevertheless their common King had behind him the power of the Empire and the resources of Spain, and thus gradually succeeded in his centralizing and Germanising designs. At first there was only a common imperial committee for foreign affairs, but the army also promoted unification, and the common finances worked in the same direction.

Bohemia was from the very beginning the economic backbone of this strange confederation; almost the whole of Hungary fell under Turkish dominion, and thus remained