Time: 7:00 pm  to  8:00 pm

The Secret Life of a Heretic’s Coat: Jan Hus and the Modern Pilgrimage of a “Medieval Relic”

Lecture at the Moravian Archives by Thomas Fudge, research fellow at Moravian College and Theological Seminary

The Bohemian priest Jan Hus was executed as a heretic in 1415. The Council of Constance went to some lengths to ensure that every trace of him was eradicated. In 2012, German scholars announced that a relic of the martyr had come to light in the archives of a French museum. The textile, hailed as a piece of Hus’ coat, was featured in a major exhibition in 2014 in Germany and is currently displayed at the Hussite Museum in Tábor, Czech Republic. Is it possible that something belonging to Hus survived the ravages of 600 years? This lecture revisits the trial of Jan Hus and summarizes the significance of medieval relics. With these two subjects as context, the Hus relic is examined, and the scientific analysis undergirding the links to Hus are considered. The lecture questions the German claims, and considers the nature of textile analysis and their promise before exploring how the Council of Constance was marketed as a tourist attraction in the 19th century. The lecture presents an alternative conclusion to the German claims.

Thomas A. Fudge is Professor of Medieval History at the University of New England and the author of twelve books, including a fourth monograph on Jan Hus titled Jan Hus Between Time and Eternity: Reconsidering a Medieval Heretic due out in December 2015. He is regarded as an international authority on Jan Hus and Hussite history and has published widely in that field over the past 20 years. He is the editor for a special volume of Kosmas: Czechoslovak and Central European Journal devoted to Hus which will be published later this year. During Fall Semester, he is Visiting Professor at Moravian Theological Seminary. His book Jerome of Prague and the Beginning of the Hussite Movement will be published in 2016 by Oxford University Press.