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The Taborites (Czech Táborité, singular Táborita) were members of a religious community considered heretical by the Catholic Church. The Taborites were centered on the Bohemian city of Tábor during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. The religious reform movement in Bohemia splintered into various religious sects. Beginning with the most radical, the various sects that existed were the Adamites, Taborites, Orebites, Sirotčí ("Orphans"), Utraquists and Praguers. Because the revolution's impetus came from the burning of Jan Hus, for the purpose of simplicity many writers have put most of these sects under one umbrella term calling them the "Hussites".
Economically supported by Tábor's control of local gold mines, the citizens joined local peasants to develop a communal society. Taborites announced the Millennium of Christ and declared there would be no more servants and masters. They promised that people would return to a state of pristine innocence.
Taborite theology represented one of the most radical departures from that of the medieval Catholic Church. They rejected the outer veneer of corruption in the Church and insisted on the normativeness of biblical authority. Even though Taborite theologians were versed in scholastic theology, they were among the first intellectuals to break free from centuries-old scholastic methods.
Some of the most outstanding Taborite theologians were Mikuláš Biskupec of Pelhřimov and Prokop Veliký (who died in the Battle of Lipany). These were opposed by Taborite theologians such as Peter Kániš and Martin Húska, who manifested their more radical ideas by desecrating the Eucharistic host. Followers of Kániš included Adamites, and he himself was burnt as a heretic by order of Jan Žižka, the military leader.
Jan Žižka commanded his rag-tag Bohemian army in defense against the crusading Imperial Army under Emperor Sigismund. Žižka did not believe that all heretics should be slain and often showed clemency to those he defeated. After one battle when his army disobeyed him and killed many prisoners, Žižka ordered the army to pray for forgiveness. This experience partly inspired him to write a famous military code of conduct – "Žižkův vojenský řád" – a document partly inspired by the biblical book of Deuteronomy. Žižka eventually left Tabor because that community became too radical for his beliefs and took over the leadership of the more moderate Orebites in Hradec Králové. In response to the numerous attacks launched against Bohemia, the Taborites and Orebites often set aside their religious differences and cooperated militarily.
Once the external threat was removed by Hussite victories, the various Hussite factions turned on each other. Finally, after twenty years, the power of the Taborites was broken with the Battle of Lipany on May 30, 1434, during which 13,000 of the 18,000-strong army were killed. In 1437 the Taborites signed a treaty with Sigismund.
Even though the Taborites ceased to play an important political role, their theological thinking strongly influenced the foundation and rise of the Unity of the Brethren (Unitas Fratrum) in 1457, today in English called the Moravian Church.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Taborites.|
- Howard Kaminsky, A History of the Hussite Revolution (Wipf and Stock Publishers 2004 ISBN 978-1-59244631-5), p. 427
- William H. Brackney, Historical Dictionary of Radical Christianity (Scarecrow Press 2012 ISBN 978-0-81087365-0), p. 21
- Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (Random House 2011 ISBN 978-1-44810394-2), p. 220
- Joan of Arc's Letter to the Hussites (23 March 1430) — In 1430, Joan of Arc dictated a letter threatening to lead a crusading army against the Hussites unless they returned to "the Catholic Faith and the original Light". This link contains a translation of the letter plus notes and commentary.
- The Hussite Wars
- The Bohemian War (1420–1434)
- "The Hussite Wars (1419–36)", Stephen Turnbull, Osprey Publishing (ISBN 1-84176-665-8)