Martin Pjecha: Research & CV

Discourses of Violence within the Hussite Movement

Research Area 2 – Norms & Transgressions


My Ph. D. project explores the intellectual, theological, and discursive methods and arguments used to encourage and legitimize religious violence, as well as their historical variability and radicalization. My research is focused on the context of late-medieval Bohemia, particularly on a heterodox sect therein (the “Hussites”), and traces the employment of both traditional and innovative discourses on violence to construct a universalistic theory of violent, apocalyptic revolution. Particularly central here were both orthodox and heterodox Biblical hermeneutical methods, and especially hermeneutics of apocalyptic narratives and agents.

A key goal of the project is to illustrate the novel role of human agency in an apocalyptic setting, whereby the radical Hussites (or “Táborites”) expected to actually assist God in purging the world of the wicked and implementing a perfect inner-worldly Christian kingdom which would be inhabited only by perfect saints. The confidence of human agency in aiding or fulfilling divine will, I will argue, is an innovation of the late-medieval and early-Renaissance period, when the medieval static and pessimistic view of man (coming from Augustine) was challenged by new ideas of man’s potential and his capability of perfecting the world. Meanwhile, the Scholastic mode of Biblical exegesis was also increasingly challenged by intellectuals and preachers (like Jan Hus) who saw the Bible as the coherent word of God, comprehensible to all the faithful, and the only true guide to a good life—excluding the traditions of the Church and opinions of the Pope. Such intellectual innovations–related to Platonic and mystical thought–could have serious (and unintended) consequences when applied to political action, suggesting not only that the corruption of the world was incoherent to God’s will, but that it was the role of man (and only the elect) to bring the kingdom of Christ to the world via whatever means necessary, even violence.

More generally, I am interested in cross-cultural phenomenon of religious violence, the comparative study of religion, and intellectual history.



September 2013-: Central European University (Budapest, Hungary)Ph. D. candidate in the department of History

September 2011-June 2012: Central European University (Budapest, Hungary)
Master of Arts degree in History, with a specialization in Religious Studies

Awards and Scholarships

2017: Josef Dobrovský Fellowship for foreign researchers at The Czech Academy of Sciences (Prague, Czech Republic)

2015: Research Stipend at Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (Mainz, Germany)

2014: Academic Achievement Award for First-Year Doctoral Students (Central European University, department of History)

2013-2016: Full Doctoral Fellowship from Central European University

2012: Péter Hanák Award (Central European University, department of History)
Annual recognition of the year’s best thesis in the History department.


  • “The Changing Perception of the Hussites in the Thoughts and Works of Johannes Nider”, in Vojtěch Bažant and Věra Vejrychová (eds.), Kacíři, barbaři, nepřátelé. Odlišnost a stereotypy v pozdním středověku [Heretics, barbarians, enemies: Difference and stereotypes in the late middle ages] (Prague, 2016), 181-218.
  • “Spreading Faith and Vengeance: Human Agency and the ‘Offensive Shift’ in the Hussite Discourses on Warfare”, The Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice 10 (2015): 158-184.
  •  “The Christian Rejection of Animal Sacrifice by Daniel C. Ullucci” (Book Review) International Political Anthropology vol. 7, no. 1 (2014): 115-123.
Forthcoming Publications
  • Matthias Riedl (ed.) A Companion to Joachim of Fiore (Brill) (Editorial assistant)
  • “Táborite apocalyptic violence and its Intellectual inspirations (1410-1415)” Bohemian Reformation and Religious Practice 11.
  • Translation of Hussite prophecies in a collection of early modern prophetic literature, under the organization of Dr. Lionel Laborie (University of London).

Academic Work Experience

2017: Organizer of the International Doctoral Conference “Enchantments, Disenchantments, Re-enchantments: Religion, State, and Society throughout History (29 June- 1 July 2017)” at the Center for Religious Studies, Central European University, Budapest

January–April 2017: Teaching Assistant for CEU Master’s level course “Interdisciplinary Methods of Comparative History”.

September 2016–January 2017: Teaching Assistant for CEU Master’s level course “Historiography: Themes in its History and Approaches to its Theory”

February–April 2016: Translator and Research Assistant for Mihai Surdu: “Whose Blood, Which Genes? Narratives and Sampling Strategies in Roma-Related Genetic Research from 1921 up to Today”, Institute of Advanced Study, Central European University, Budapest.

May 2015–present: Translator for forthcoming Brill companion to the Hussites.

November 2014–present: Research assistant to Professor Matthias Riedl, including editing a forthcoming Brill Companion to Joachim of Fiore, and a forthcoming Central European University Press Publication The Apocalyptic Complex