The Hussite movement is essential for understanding medieval Europe and the development of Western civilization. Matthew Spinka and Howard Kaminsky stand at the forefront of scholarship introducing this subject to the Anglophone world. Thomas A. Fudge argues their role in the religious historiography of late medieval Europe is a precursor to global medievalism. Combining commitment to the Christian faith with firm opposition to the Soviet-mandated Marxist-Communist ideology that dominated twentieth-century Czechoslovakia, Spinka strove to present Jan Hus as a medieval figure driven by religious devotion. Motivated by Jewish atheism and a modified form of Marxist analysis, Kaminsky rescued the medieval Hussites from oblivion and political agendas. Fudge explores biography, history, and historiography as an essential intellectual segue between medieval Hussites and modern scholarship. Matthew Spinka, Howard Kaminsky, and the Medieval Hussites considers biography, evaluates the work of both historians, elaborates their methods, assesses their interpretations, and analyzes their historiographical significance for the study of Hussite history.
Thomas A. Fudge is professor of medieval history at the University of New England in Australia.
1.Why Study Hussites?
2.What does Biography tell us about Historiography?
5.Remembering the Past, Imagining the Future
Matthew Spinka, Howard Kaminsky, and the Medieval Hussites is an intellectually stimulating romp across an important but neglected landscape. Thomas A. Fudge demonstrates the significance of Howard Kaminsky’s stature as a medievalist, his importance as one of the premier international interpreters of the Hussite movement, and his wizardry as a curious and brilliant student of religion. Fudge has rightly recognized Kaminsky’s central place in Anglophone historiography and along with the contributions of Matthew Spinka has clarified the development of Hussite scholarship in the West. Intellectually provocative and relentlessly probing, reflecting the patience of a detective, Fudge makes a powerful contribution to our understanding of the medieval world by underscoring the broader importance of historiographical reflection as well as the original contributions of the Hussite phenomena. An uncommon achievement.
The great fifteenth-century social, political, and religious transformation known as the Hussite movement has been rescued from marginalization by a series of gifted and committed historians. Thomas Fudge, a leading authority of current scholarship in this field, has examined two of the most important in this sterling study. While Matthew Spinka’s and Howard Kaminsky’s work is one of Fudge’s foci, their lives and persons are also his perceptive concern. The historians come alive, their histories are illuminated, and the great contribution the Anglophone world has made to this understanding of medieval Europe and the western tradition are displayed in the pages of this original and revealing study. Fudge’s deep research and insight are especially welcome at a time when the complex nature of Europe itself is yet again being deliberated.
This important book has two aims: to give accounts of the lives of Matthew Spinka and Howard Kaminsky, and to consider the historiography of the Hussite movement up to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Thomas Fudge has provided a valuable historiographical and cliographical study of a century of scholarship on the Hussites. This is a book by the only person with the breadth and depth of understanding able to write it. It will introduce the field to many and define it for decades to come.