Four Prague Articles

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Hussite flag with the chalice

The four Prague Articles ( Czech Čtyři artikuly pražské ) are the Hussite reform program for the renewal of the Church. It is a compromise which the radical Taborites and the moderate Prague Hussites agreed in July 1420 in Prague , and which they presented to King Sigismund as their conditions. During the many years of the Hussite Wars , there was repeated struggle for recognition of this reform program. At the Basel Council in 1436, only the lay chalice was finally recognized; the Hussites could not enforce the remaining claims.


Freedom of preaching

First , that the Word of God in the Kingdom of Bohemia will be properly preached freely and without hindrance by the Lord's priests and proclaimed according to the Word of the Savior : "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creatures" ( Mark 16:15  LUT ) [...]

The demand for free unhindered preaching has its origins in the teaching of the English reformer John Wyclif . Jan Hus paid with his life for his fearless advocacy of this freedom. The article says that freedom of preaching should not be restricted by ordinance of spiritual or secular authorities; a priest must not be prevented from fulfilling his duty to preach the Holy Scriptures . This freedom was not understood as anarchy, the article did not apply to traveling preachers or self-appointed prophets.

For the Hussites it also meant the need to make the word of God accessible to broad sections of the population. Part of their program was therefore the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the national language and the use of Czech instead of Latin in the Hussite services.

Lay goblet

Second , that the sacrament of the Divine Eucharist, under both forms, bread and wine, be freely offered to all believers in Christ who are without mortal sin , according to the word and command of the Savior, who says: “Take, eat; this is my body. And [...] everyone drinks from it; this is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many. "( Matthew 26 : 26-28  LUT ) [...]

The Hussites opposed the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church of offering the laity only the bread (the host ) at the celebration of the Eucharist . The article called for the equality of priests and lay people in the Eucharist and was justified with the statement of Jesus in the Gospel of John : “Truly, truly, I say to you: if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in it to you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I'll put it on the last day raise. " ( John 6.53 to 54  LUT )

It is interesting that the lay goblet was not so important for Jan Hus. Jakobellus von Mies began with the Lord's Supper in both forms . The lay chalice quickly found numerous followers and became a symbol of the Hussites.

Poverty of the clergy

Thirdly , that the worldly dominion over wealth and earthly goods, which the clergy holds against the command of Christ to the detriment of their office and to the detriment of the worldly class, is taken from them and abolished, and the clergy themselves become part of the evangelical rule and the apostolic life of Christ and himself Apostles are brought back according to the word of the Savior: "These twelve Jesus sent out, commanded them and said: [...] You shall not have gold, silver or copper in your belts." ( Matthew 10 : 5-9  LUT ) and: " You know that the rulers hold down their people [...]. But it should not be so among you; but whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant; and whoever wants to be first among you, let him be your servant. "( Matthew 20 : 25-27  LUT ) [...]

This article is also inspired by John Wyclif . He taught that if the church does not return to its original pastoral mission of its own accord, secular rulers must compel it. Like Wyclif, Jan Hus saw the property of the church as the greatest source of church grievances and demanded the secularization of church property through secular power, i. H. by the king and the nobility. This article was used during the Hussite Wars e.g. Sometimes realized with great radicalism, because the property of the church was a thorn in the side of almost all feudal lords, and in particular the Hussite nobility saw it as a mandate to expropriate church property.

Punishment for Deadly Sins

Fourth, that all mortal sins, especially the public, and the other contrary to shortcomings in the law of God each state are according to the order and in a reasonable manner prevented by the authorities and eliminated. “For those who do such things”, as St. Paul says, "are worthy of death, but not only the perpetrators themselves, but also those who approve of it" ( Romans 1.32  LUT ), as there are fornication , indulgence, theft, murder, lies in the people [...] and the like, in the clergy, on the other hand, simonistic heresies and charging of fees for baptism , confirmation , confession , the sacrament of the Eucharist, […] and innumerable deceptions of ordinary people through false promises. [...]

This article is also based on the teaching of John Wyclif. It is based on the firm belief that God's will must be obeyed all over the world. Every believer, whether layperson or priest, must live in accordance with God's commandments and avoid sins. And because all are equal before God, the offenses of the clergy must be punished in the same way as those of the laity. The Hussites demand that the church be deprived of the right to judge in earthly matters. For secular offenses, the clergy should be subjected to public jurisdiction.


The first draft of the four Prague Articles was made in September 1419, when, after the death of the Bohemian King Wenceslaus IV, the Hussite estates formulated their joint demands on his successor, King Sigismund . The final form was then decided in July 1420, when Sigismund was besieging Prague with the crusader troops and the Taborites came to the aid of the Prague . Theologians from the University of Prague were significantly involved in the drafting , and Jakobellus von Mies is named as an important co-author. The Hussite demands were announced in the Crusaders' army camp, but they were rejected by the papal legate Ferdinand von Lucca and King Sigismund refused to negotiate.

The four Prague articles contain the minimum of the religious demands of the Hussites. Both the Prague theologians and the Taborite leaders agreed that peace was only possible on the basis of these four articles. They intended to publicly announce this reform program to Sigismund of the conditions under which they wanted to recognize him as king. At the same time, they wanted to prove to the princes of the neighboring countries and to the whole of Christianity that their program did not contradict the commandments of the Holy Scriptures. They hoped to spread their teaching outside the country and to find supporters.

The Hussites later succeeded in winning over Prague Archbishop Konrad von Vechta , who publicly professed the four Prague Articles in 1421. At the Diet of Čáslav (Tschaslau) in 1421, the four Prague articles were declared the basic program of the Hussites and the state law. However, because of their radical - and from the point of view of Christian Europe at the time heretical - character, they were never fully implemented. There were repeated negotiations between King Sigismund and the Hussites about the recognition of the reform program. They were made more difficult by the disagreement between the radical Taborites and the moderate Utraquists who were keen to find a compromise with the Catholic Church . After many years of the Hussite Wars, the Basle Council finally only achieved recognition of the lay chalice; this was included in the text of the Basel compact data 1436. The other reform demands could not be implemented. This date also marks the end of the Hussite Wars.

In 1524 the Jena pastor Martin Reinhard published an annotated edition of the Prague articles in a German translation, which he had found in the estate of the Rostock theologian Nicolaus Rutze , who died around 1510 , under the title Anzaygung how die fallen Christianity is broken in jren First it was written in which it was first planted by Christo vnnd seyne [n] apostles and then bawet: it was written a hundred years ago and indicated by printing. 1524 .: concerning the Concilium for Basel and the Bohem . This issue is dedicated to Anton Tucher , Willibald Pirckheimer , Hieronimus Ebner and the entire Nuremberg Council.


  • Mathilde Uhlirz: The genesis of the four Prague articles . Alfred Hölder, Vienna 1914 (98 pages).
  • Jiří Kejř: Z počátků české reformace . Marek, Brno 2006, ISBN 80-86263-81-9 (Czech, 271 pages).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d German translation of the text originally written in Latin from:
    Wegbereiter der Reformation . In: Gustav Adolf Benrath (Ed.): Classics of Protestantism, Volume 1 . Schünemann, Bremen 1967, p. 368-371 (544 pp.).
  2. Martin Reinhard: Anzaygung how the fallen Christianity will be brought back in the first place in which it was first planted by Christo vnnd seyne (n) apostles and bawetted: written a hundred years ago and indicated by the print. 1524 .: concerning the Concilium for Basel and the Bohem . Jena 1524.