Medieval Famine, Bubonic Plague, the Papal schism and Reformation legacy of Jan Hus in Bohemia

This film explores the geopolitical situation of the late medieval period wherein an enabled papacy, thanks to its projection of spiritual authority onto temporal powers, became increasingly political and corrupt. With the advent of climate change that caused the little ice age in the early 1300’s, there followed the great famine of 1315 that killed a quarter of Europe’s population, as well as causing a collapse of the livestock, grain supply and local economies for decades. Just as they began to recover, Europe was then hit by the Black Death (or Bubonic Plague) in 1346, which caused the death of upwards of half the remaining population. Labour shortages then caused peasant and working class unrest, as well as a growing sense that the end of the world was coming. Both they and the professors in the universities, squarely viewed the church, its endemic corruption and the scandal of first, the Avignon Papal “Babylonian Captivity” and then the subsequent Great Schism that saw multiple competing anti-popes, as being in need of serious reform.

In England, John Wycliff began his series of tirades against the pope in Rome, while in Bohemia, nationalist stirrings by an oppressed Czech population led to a similar movement led by priest and university professor Jan Hus (or John Huss). His betrayal, eventual burning at the stake in 1415 and subsequent mass uprising by his Hussite followers set off shockwaves throughout Europe that would eventually lead Martin Luther, a hundred years later, to begin the Protestant Revolution.

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