Jan Hus, born in 1374, was one of the most influential clergymen of the Czech Reformation. He rejected the Catholic Church’s excesses and argued that the Bible was the only true source of God’s word. In 1414 he was summoned to defend his teaching before the Council of Constance. Despite holding a safe pass issued by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, he was declared a heretic and burned at the stake the following year. His death prompted a rebellion among Czech nationalists which culminated in the Hussite Wars.
Mucha depicts Hus preaching to a captivated audience in Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel in 1412. Jan Žižka, the future military leader of the Hussites, stands near the wall on the left while Queen Sophia, wife of King Váklav IV, sits listening intently under a red baldachin with her ladies-in-waiting on either side.