Jan Hus  

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Jan Hus, alternative spellings John Hus, Jan Huss, John Huss (c. 1370 Husinec (Prachatice District), BohemiaJuly 6, 1415 Konstanz, Germany) was a Czech religious thinker, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague. His followers became known as Hussites. The Roman Catholic Church considered his teachings heretical, and Hus was excommunicated in 1411, condemned by the Council of Constance, and burned at the stake. Five centuries later in 1999, Pope John Paul II expressed "deep regret for the cruel death inflicted"; he then went on to suggest an inquiry as to whether Hus might be cleared of heresy.

Hus was a key contributor to the Protestant movement whose teachings had a strong influence on the states of Europe and on Martin Luther himself. The Hussite Wars resulted in the Basel Compacts which allowed for a reformed church in the Kingdom of Bohemia - almost a century before such developments would take place in the Lutheran Reformation. Hus' extensive writings earn him a prominent place in Czech literary history. He is also responsible for introducing the use of diacritics (especially the háček) into Czech spelling in order to represent each sound by a single symbol. Today, a statue of Jan Hus can be seen at the Prague Old Town Square (Czech Staroměstské náměstí).

Jan Hus Day (Den upálení mistra Jana Husa) on July 6, the anniversary of the execution of Jan Hus, is one of the public holidays in the Czech Republic. He is also commemorated as martyr in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on that day. Today most Czechs describe themselves as non-religious, and among Christians more are Roman Catholics than Hussites, nonetheless Jan Hus is a national hero.

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