Honoring the Sexcentenary Anniversary of Den Upálení Mistra Jana Husa :
A Texas Czech Perspective, 600 Years After the Goose was Cooked
James J. S. Johnson
July 6th is not just another day in the Czech Republic, nor was it 600 years ago.
Milovaní, nedivte se té zkoušce ohněm, jež na vás přišla – není to přece nic divného.
1.list Petrův 4:12
[Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.
1st Peter 4:12]
On that day (the official Czech holiday is called Den Upálení Mistra Jana Husa), in AD1415, the Bohemian Reformer, Jan Hus (also known in English-speaking circles as “John Huss”), was burned at the stake, for teaching the Christian faith as he understood it to be.
The upheaval that immediately followed, in Bohemia (and eventually elsewhere), included what became known as the Hussite Wars, led by the famous Bohemian general, Jan Žižka – but that is another piece of history, to be studied another day. It is that 6th day of July, in AD1415, that Bohemians have ever remembered, and Czechoslovakians thereafter, and now Czechs. It was 600 years ago that “the goose was cooked” – and that “goose” was Jan Hus of Husinec [literally “Goose town”], southern Bohemia.
But why do we say that “the goose was cooked”?
Jan Hus was a Christian Bible scholar and teacher, in Bohemia (e.g., Prague), a land that today is called the Czech Republic. Jan Hus was a Roman Catholic priest whose studies of the Holy Bible led to him to protest against various unbiblical doctrines and practices that dominated the ecclesiastical politics of his generation. Until he was stopped, Jan Hus taught the Holy Bible’s doctrines (like John Wycliffe, whose writings Hus had studied) to the Bethlehem Chapel congregation (of about 3000 worshippers), in Prague. Hus also taught as a Bible professor at Univerzita Karlova (i.e., Charles University) in Prague.
The persecution and trial (for “heresy”) of Jan Hus, applying an inquisitorial process at odds with today’s Due Process standards, ended in the execution (by burning) of Jan Hus, as an enemy of the Roman Catholic Church. Hus was burned to death on July 6th of AD1415 – 600 years ago. Since his family name was “Hus”, which means “goose” in the Czech (i.e., Bohemian) language, it was said that the Church of Rome had “cooked a goose”. [See the detailed summary given by church historian Ken Curtis, “John Hus: Faithful unto Death”, posted at http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1201-1500/john-hus-faithful-unto-death-11629878.html , and this historian’s added perspective posted at http://leesbird.com/2014/12/10/a-bohemian-goose-and-a-saxon-swan/
In Texas we often say “what goes around comes around”, and this historic part of Czech-Bohemian history is no exception, genealogically speaking, because there is a “reverse migration” (or sorts) to this history of transplanted “seeds”. In short, Bohemian ancestors provided biogenetic “seed” that descended to John of Gaunt, the political protector-benefactor of England’s John Wycliffe. (More on that documentation below.) Next, some of John Wycliffe’s Bohemian disciples took his theological teachings back to Bohemia, where Jan Hus adopted and taught them. So the biogenetic “seed” from Bohemia emigrated to England, leading to the birth and life of John of Gaunt, whose political influence facilitated John Wycliffe’s intellectual “seed” becoming transplanted in Prague (Bohemia).
The genealogical connection, from Bohemia to England’s John of Gaunt is documented in a prior issue of České Stopy – specifically in my “Czech into Texas, at Last! From Bohemian Roots, to a Moravian Log Cabin, to the Lone Star State” in České Stopy, 13(1):15-22 (spring 2011). Specifically, Vratislav I, king of Bohemia (as of AD1086), was the P12 ancestor of England’s John of Gaunt. (In other words, John of Gaunt was the great11-grandson of King Vratislav.) That same John of Gaunt (who for a while was King of Castille, in Spain) was the royal protector of John Wycliffe. Jan Hus, in Prague, taught that Wycliffe was a wise Bible scholar whom Hus himself aspired to copy.
So where is the Texas-Czech connection here? As noted before (in my above-cited article “Czech into Texas”), some of the progeny of John of Gaunt (himself descended from both Bohemian and Moravian bloodlines) have arrived in Texas, so there is an immigration-into-Texas aspect to this providential history.
James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, MSHist, MSGeog, CPEE, CNHG, has taught history in Texas for LeTourneau University, Concordia University–Texas, Dallas Christian College, and ICR-SOBA, and has served as a history/geography lecturer for 9 different cruise ships (f/b/o Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, and Orient Lines). The above commemoration of Jan Hus, appreciating his martyrdom for Christ, 6 centuries ago, was first published as “Honoring the Sexcentenary Anniversary of Den Upálení Mistra Jan Husa: A Texas Perspective, 600 Years After the Goose was Cooked,” České Stopy [Czech Footprints]. 15 (2): 20-21 (summer 2015).