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German History in Documents and Images
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Martin Luther and Jan Hus (2nd Half of the 16th Century)
This image is another allegorical portrayal of Luther’s teachings. It shows Martin Luther and the Bohemian priest Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415) administering Communion to the Saxon noble family. On the left, Luther presents the chalice to Elector John of Saxony; on the right, Hus presents bread to John’s brother, Elector Frederick the Wise. In the middle, a fountain pumps the blood of Christ, thereby symbolizing Christ’s presence during Communion, as argued by Luther. Luther intentionally associated himself with Hus, whom the Council of Constance had burnt for heresy in 1415. In doing so, he aimed to express his rejection of conciliarism as an alternative to papalism and to indicate that his critique of the Church was not without precedent. Woodcut by an unknown artist after Lucas Cranach the Elder, second half of 16th century.