Jan Huss, born in the city of Husinec in Bohemia in 1372, was perhaps the most important Czech religious reformer of the early fifteenth century. Huss was heavily influenced by the work of John Wycliffe (1330-1384), and Huss’s beliefs would find expression in the Lutheran Reformation more than a century after his death. His active participation in the politics of the Great Schism (1378-1417) contributed to his demise. He was burned at the stake in Constance, Germany, in 1415.
Geoffrey Brennan is a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University and one of the leader figures in the Public Choice school of economics.
Benjamin Constant (1767–1830) was born in Switzerland and became one of France’s leading writers, as well as a journalist, philosopher, and politician. His colorful life included a formative stay at the University of Edinburgh; service at the court of Brunswick, Germany; election to the French Tribunate; and initial opposition and subsequent support for Napoleon, even the drafting of a constitution for the Hundred Days. Constant wrote many books, essays, and pamphlets. His deepest conviction was that reform is hugely superior to revolution, both morally and politically. Sir Isaiah Berlin called Constant “the most eloquent of all defenders of freedom and privacy” and believed to him we owe the notion of “negative liberty,” that is, what Biancamaria Fontana describes as “the protection of individual experience and choices from external interferences and constraints.” To Constant it was relatively unimportant whether liberty was ultimately grounded in religion or metaphysics—what mattered were the practical guarantees of practical freedom—“autonomy in all those aspects of life that could cause no harm to others or to society as a whole.”