Jan Hus was ordained to the priesthood in 1400, at a time of great crisis within the Western Church. Under pressure from the King of France, the seat of the Popes was moved from Rome to Avignon, where it remained for seventy years. The Pope died shortly after returning to Rome and the Cardinals, under pressure from the French to elect a French pope and from the Italians to elect an Italian pope, opted to elect both and Italian and a French pope. There were later three claimants for the Papacy.
Jan Hus began to speak against certain abuses within the church, mostly those concerning church discipline and practice, in particular the practice of denying the wine to the average Christian during celebrations of the Lord’s Supper; a practice that Hus denounced as contrary to the Scriptures.
In 1412, he was excommunicated by the Archbishop, a supporter of one claimant for the Papacy while Hus supported another. In 1414, he was summoned to the Council of Constance, where he was found guilty of heresy and burned at the stake in 1415.
John Wycliffe lived two hundred years before the Reformation, yet his teachings closely match that of Luther, Calvin, and the other Reformers.
In the late 1300s, Wycliffe denounced abuses and false teachings of the church in England. In 1382, he translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English, the first European translation in more than a thousand years.
He was instrumental in organizing a group of itinerant preachers, whom he sent throughout Europe. But the Lollard movement was short-lived. The Church expelled Wycliffe from his teaching position at Oxford, and he escaped the same fate as Hus only because he had influential friends.
44 years after he died, the Pope had his bones exhumed and burned. Intense persecution eliminated his followers and eradicated his teachings, not to be resurrected until the Reformation.
A colorful Italian reformer by the name of Girolamo Savonarola denounced the paganism of Renaissance Florence, assembling a massive following.
When he was summoned to Rome, he verbally attacked the pope and the church, resulting in his being excommunicated, hanged, and burned.