102. JOHN HUSS BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE
Hitherto we have comprehended the order and discourse of this council, with the acts and sessions concerning the same; which council, although it was principally thought to be assembled, for quieting of the schism between the three popes; yet, notwithstanding, a great part thereof was for the cause of the Bohemians, and especially for John Huss, as appeared by their preparation before the council. For before the council began, the Emperor Sigismund, aforesaid, sent certain gentlemen, Bohemians, which were of his own household, giving them in charge to bring John Huss, bachelor of divinity, unto the said council, and that under his safe-conduct. The meaning and intent thereof was, that John Huss should purge and clear himself of the blame which they had laid against him: and, for the better assurance, the emperor did not only promise him safe-conduct, that he might come freely unto Constance, but also that he should return again into Bohemia, without fraud or interruption; he promised also to receive him under his protection, and under safeguard of the whole empire. For the same only cause the emperor sent him afterwards the safe-conducts double written, both in Latin and Almain; the form whereof doth hereafter ensue.
"Sigismund, by the grace of God, king of the Romans, of Hungary and Denmark, Croatia, &c. To all princes, as well ecclesiastical as secular, dukes, marquisses, and earls, barons, captains, borough-masters, judges, and governors, officers of towns, burgages, and villages, and unto all rulers of the commonalty; and generally, to all the subjects of our empire, to whom these letters shall come, grace and all goodness.
"We charge and command you all, that you have respect unto John Huss, the which is departed out of Bohemia, to come unto the general council, the which shall be celebrate and holden very shortly at the town of Constance. The which John Huss we have received under our protection, and safeguard of the whole empire, desiring you that you will cheerfully receive him when he shall come towards you, and that you entreat and handle him gently, showing him favour and good will, and show him pleasure in all things, as touching the forwardness, ease, and assurance of his journey, as well by land as by water.
"Moreover, we will, that he and all his company, with his carriage and necessaries, shall pass throughout all places, passages, ports, bridges, lands, governances, lordships, liberties, cities, towns, burgages, castles, and villages, and all other your dominions, without paying of any manner of imposition or Dane-money, peage, tribute, or any manner of toll, whatsoever it be. We will also, that you suffer him to pass, rest, tarry, and to sojourn at liberty, without doing unto him any manner of impeachment, or vexation, or trouble; and that if need shall so require, you do provide a faithful company to conduct him withal, for the honour and reverence which you owe unto our imperial majesty. Given at Spires, the eighteenth of October, in the year of our Lord God 1414."
By this it may appear, that this safe-conduct was granted not in the time of the council, by the bishops, but before the council, by the emperor, who was or ought to be the principal ordainer and directer of the council, under God. Now, whether the bishops did well in breaking and annulling this promise of the emperor, against the emperor's mind, because the discussion thereof belongeth ad materiam juris, non facti, being a matter rather of law than of story, I will defer to reason this case with Master Cope, to such time as may be more convenient to the full tractation thereof.
Notwithstanding, briefly to touch and pass, let us consider part of the reasons of the said Cope, how frivolous and false they be, and easy to be refelled. "What," saith he, "if he preached by the way, coming up?" First, that it is false. "What," saith he, "if he stood obstinate in his heresy?" "what if he sought to escape away after his coming up?" To this the lords of Bohemia do answer: That this safe-conduct was broken, and he imprisoned, not only before he attempted to escape, or before he was condemned for a heretic, but also before he was heard of the council what he was.
Further, where Cope saith, that the general council was above the emperor, and hath power in case of heresy to break public leagues and grants: to that I say, that this safe-conduct stood not only upon the emperor, but also upon the consent of the pope himself.
And admit that to be true, that the council had power to make this decree, to break promise with heretics; yet this cannot be denied, but that John Huss was condemned and judged before that decree in the nineteenth session was made. Finally, when Cope hath proved by what scripture the councils have power to defeat the authority of their emperors in such secular causes touching safe-conducts and outward safety, then will I answer him more fully herein. But to the purpose again of the story.
John Huss, seeing so many fair promises, and the assurance which the emperor had given unto him, sent answer unto the emperor, that he would come unto the council. But before he departed out of the realm of Bohemia, and especially out of the town of Prague, he did write certain bills long enough before, as well in Latin as in the Bohemian language and Almain, and caused them to be set and fastened upon the gates of the cathedral churches and parish churches, cloisters and abbeys, signifying unto them all, that he would go to the general council at Constance; wherefore, if any man have any suspicion of his doctrine, that he should declare it before the Lord Conrad, archbishop of Prague; or, if he had rather, at the general council, for there he would render and give up unto every one, and before them all, an account and reason of his faith. The example of his letters and intimations set up, were these, the copy whereof here followeth:
"Master John Huss, bachelor of divinity, will appear before the most reverend father the Lord Conrad, archbishop of Prague, and legate of the apostolic seat, in their next convocation of all their prelates and clergy of the kingdom of Bohemia; being ready always to satisfy all men which shall require him to give a reason of his faith and hope that he holdeth, and to hear and see all such as will lay unto his charge either any stubbornness of error or heresy, that they should write in their names there, as is required both by God's law and man's. And if so be that they could not lawfully prove any stubbornness of error or heresy against him, that then they should suffer the like punishments that he should have had; unto whom altogether he will answer the next general council at Constance, before the archbishop and the prelates, and, according to the decrees and canons of the holy fathers, show forth his innocency in the name of Christ. -- Dated the Sunday next after the feast of St. Bartholomew."
"I, Master John Husnetz, do signify unto all men, that I am ready to come and stand before the face of my lord the archbishop, and to answer to all things whereof I am falsely accused in the next convocation of bachelors; and chiefly to this point, that in many places they do report me to be a heretic, not having respect unto justice or law, neither yet to my merits or deserts. Therefore, since that you, which do never cease to slander and backbite me with your words, do understand and know these things, come forth openly before the face and presence of the lord archbishop, and with an open mouth declare and show forth what false doctrine or other things ye have heard me teach, contrary to the catholic faith; and if that I shall be found faulty in never so small a matter, contrary or against the faith of Christ, or in any false doctrine, and that I do choose that or other things contrary to the faith of Christ, then I will hold my peace and suffer punishment as a heretic. And if there be no man that will resist against me, or accuse me in this point, once again I say unto you, that I am ready to appear at Constance in the famous congregation, to the end that I may stand in the company of the divines, even before the face of the pope. Therefore, whosoever knoweth any false doctrine contrary to the faith of Christ in me, let him come thither and show it forth boldly, if he have any thing to lay against me; and for my part I will not be slack, if I may understand or know it, to answer as well to small as great, as touching the truth which I have received of God, and desire to be defended. All you good men, therefore, which love the truth, say now whether, by these my words, I do think or go about any thing, either contrary to the law of God or man. If I be not admitted then to be heard, be it known and manifest unto all men, that it happeneth not through my fault. -- The same day."
This epistle which followeth, was set upon the gates of the king's palace, translated into Latin, out of the Bohemian tongue.
"Unto the king's Majesty, the queen, and to all such as are of his council, and to all other rulers and magistrates, which now are in the king's court, I, John Huss, do signify and publish, that I have understood, not by any vain rumour or tale, that there be letters brought from the pope to the king's Majesty, the contents whereof are these: That the king's Majesty should bring to pass, that the heretics which were now lately sprung up in his kingdom and dominions, should not take any firm or strong root. Forasmuch as without any desert, as I trust by God's grace, the fame or noise is sprung and blown abroad, it shall be our part to foresee and take heed, that neither the king's Majesty, neither the noble kingdom of Bohemia, should be driven to bear or suffer any reproach or slander for me. Wherefore now of late I have sent my letters to and fro, which I have with great labour and diligence caused to be openly set up; to this intent, that I might thereby cause the archbishop to be careful and diligent about the matter; signifying openly, that if there were any man in all Bohemia, which did know me to be a follower of any false or corrupt doctrine, he should profess his name in the archbishop's court, and there show forth and declare what he thought. And, forasmuch as there would none be found or come forth, which would accuse me, the archbishop commanded me and my procurers to depart in peace. Wherefore I require and desire the king's Majesty, which is the defender of the truth, also the queen and their counsellors, and all other rulers and magistrates, that they would give me a faithful testimonial of this matter; forasmuch as I have oftentimes willed and attempted this, and no man hath either accused me or troubled me. I do it, moreover, to be known unto all Bohemia, and to all nations, that I will be present even at the first time before the council of Constance, in the most famous place, in the presence of the pope, the pope being president; and finally, in the presence of all others which will come to that most famous place; and that whosoever hath any suspicion of me, that I have either taught or defended any thing contrary unto the faith of Christ, let him come thither also, let him declare there before, or in the presence of, the pope, and all the doctors of divinity, what erroneous and false doctrine I have at any time followed or holden. Moreover, if he shall convince me of any error, or prove that I have taught any thing contrary unto the Christian faith, I will not refuse to suffer whatsoever punishment shall be due for a heretic. But I hope and trust, even from the bottom of my heart, that God will not give the victory to unfaithful and unbelieving men, who do willingly kick and spurn against the truth."
The same time John Huss sent his procurers to the lord bishop of Nazareth, ordained, by the apostolic see, inquisitor of heresy of the city and diocese of Prague, requiring him, that if he had found any error in him, he would declare it openly. But the said bishop, before the said procurer, and the public notary, with many other credible witnesses, answered, that he had often talked with John Huss, and that he never knew any thing in him, but as becometh a godly and faithful man; and this his testimony of John Huss, he approved by his letters, the copy whereof is hereunder written:
"We, Nicholas, by the grace of God, bishop of Nazareth, and inquisitor, specially deputed by the apostolic seat, for heresies both of the city and diocese of Prague, by these presents do it to be known unto all men, that we in times past have often communed and talked with that honourable man, Master John Huss, bachelor of divinity, of the famous university of Prague, and have had divers and sundry conferences with him, both of the Scriptures and divers other matters; and in all his sayings, doings, and behaviour, we have proved and found him to be a faithful and a catholic man, finding no manner of evil, sinister, or, by any means, erroneous doings, in him unto this present. We do witness and protest moreover, how the said John Huss, of late, in the cathedral church of Prague, and in other both collegiate and parish churches, and in the colleges of the university of Prague, and in the gates and porches of the most noble prince and lord, the Lord Wenceslaus, king of Romans and of Bohemia; also in the gates of the reverend father, the Lord Conrad, archbishop of Prague, legate of the apostolic see, and chancellor of the university, of Prague, and of other princes and barons, then being in the city of Prague, hath set up his letters, written both in Latin and in the Bohemian tongue, containing sententially in effect, how the aforesaid Master John Huss would appear before the reverend father, the Lord Conrad, the aforesaid archbishop of Prague, and all the prelates and clergy of the kingdom of Bohemia, that shall be congregated and called together by the said archbishop, at the day appointed in the said city of Prague; ready always to satisfy every man that shall desire and require him to show a reason of his faith and hope that he holdeth, and to see and hear all and every one which could prove any obstinacy of error or heresy lawfully against him, under the pain to receive the like punishment: unto whom all together he would, by God's help, answer in the council of Constance, which was now at hand, before the said lord archbishop and us, with all other prelates; and there, in Christ's name, according to the decrees and canons of the holy fathers, to declare and show forth his innocency. After the which letters as is aforesaid, by the said Master John Huss openly set up, there did no man appear before us, the which would accuse the said Master John Huss of any error, either of any heresy. For the evident witness of all which things we have commanded these present letters to be made, and confirmed the same with the setting to of our seal. Dated in Prague the thirtieth of August, A. D. 1414."
Upon which matter also, a public instrument was drawn, testified with the hand and seal of the public notary, named Michael Pruthatietz: the copy of which instrument hereunder followeth:
"In the name of God, Amen. In the year of his nativity, one thousand four hundred and fourteen, the thirtieth of August, in the fifth year of the bishopric of the most holy father in Christ, John, by the grace of God, pope, the three and twentieth of that name, in the uppermost parlour of the house of the most famous man the Lord Peter of Zwogsta, called Zuirglits, master of the mint of the most famous prince and lord, the Lord Wenceslaus, king of the Romans and of Bohemia, in the greater city of Prague, about the abbey of St. James the apostle, in the presence of me the public notary hereunder written, and certain witnesses here within written, specially called for that purpose.
"There was personally present Master John Jessenitz, master of arts, procurer in the name of the honourable man, Master John Huss, bachelor, formed in divinity of the university of Prague. He most humbly and earnestly required of the reverend father in Christ and lord, Nicholas, bishop of Nazareth, inquisitor of heresies for the city and diocese of Prague, specially appointed by the apostolic see, being there also present, saying, 'Reverend father, do you know any heresy or error in Master John Husnetz, otherwise called Huss?' The which said Lord Nicholas, not compelled or constrained, but of his own will and accord freely and openly, did there recognise, saying these or the like words, in the Bohemian tongue:
"I have often and many times been conversant with Master John Huss, and have eaten and drunk with him; also I have been often present at his sermons, and divers of his collations which he hath made upon divers places of the Scripture, and I never found or perceived in him any error or heresy, but in all his words and deeds I have found him always a true and a catholic man, neither have I found any thing that doth savour of any error or heresy.'
"Again, the said Master John's procurer in the behalf as above, required and asked the said Lord Nicholas, bishop and inquisitor, whether any man have accused the said Master John Huss of any heresy before him, being inquisitor for heresy, and hath convicted him of heresy. He answered, that since the time he knew John Huss, and that he was made inquisitor for heresy in the city and diocese of Prague, (as is aforesaid,) never any man accused, either convinced the said Master John Huss of any heresy before him unto this present time. Adding, moreover, that he, the said Master John Huss, did openly set up his letters patent this present year aforesaid, in the said month of August, upon the porches of the cathedral church of Prague, and other collegiate and parish churches of the city of Prague, and upon the gates of our said lord, our lord the king, and the archbishop of Prague, containing in them this effect: how that he would appear before Conrad, archbishop of Prague, and all the prelates and clergy of the kingdom of Bohemia, which should be congregated and called together at a certain day of the month aforesaid, ready always to satisfy all men as touching the faith and hope which he held, and to see and hear all or singular that would lay any obstinacy of error and heresy unto him; that they should determine themselves there to suffer the like punishment, according to the extremity both of God's law and man's law; unto whom altogether he would answer in his own right before the said archbishop of Prague, and the said Lord Nicholas, bishop and inquisitor aforesaid, and the prelates even in the next general council of Constance; and there, according unto the canons and decrees of the holy fathers, declare and show forth his uprightness and innocency; upon all and singular of which proceedings, Master John de Jessenitz, procurer, and in the procurer's name or behalf as before, required and desired that he might have one or many public instruments made unto him by me the public notary here underwritten. These things were done the year, indiction, day, month, hour, place, and bishopric, as is aforesaid, in the presence of these noble and famous men, the Lord William de Zwingelitz, baron of the kingdom of Bohemia; Peter his son; the Lord Hlawaczion de Renow, likewise Baron Wenceslaus de Lunarx, Vassone de Miekonitz, burgrave of the castle of Lichetenburg, Czitborius de Bodanetz, esquire, and William de Dupoer, knight of the said diocese of Prague, with many other worthy and credible witnesses, which were specially desired and required unto the premises. And I, Michael, sometime the son of Nicholas de Prachatitz of the diocese of Prague, and by the imperial authority, public notary, was present with the witnesses afore-named, at the affairs aforesaid, at the request, demand, answer, and petition, and all and singular the doings within written, and did see and hear all these things to be done in the aforesaid manner and form. But being busied with other matters, I have caused this to be faithfully drawn and written, and subscribing the same with mine own hand, have published and reduced it into this form, and have signed it with my seal and name accustomed, being called and required to bear witness of all and singular the premises."
After this, as all the barons of Bohemia were assembled in the abbey of St. James, about the affairs of the realm, where the archbishop of Prague was also present, there the said John Huss presented supplications, by the which he most humbly desired the barons, that they would show him that favour towards the said archbishop: that if the said archbishop did suspect him of any error or heresy, that he would declare it openly, and that he was ready to endure and suffer correction for the same at his hands. And if that he had found or perceived no such thing in him, that he would then give him a testimonial thereof, through the which he, being as it were armed, he might the more freely go unto Constance. The said archbishop confessed openly, before all the assembly of barons, that he knew not that the said John Huss was culpable or faulty in any crime or offence, and this was his only counsel: that the said John Huss should purge himself of the excommunication he had incurred. This report which the archbishop had given of John Huss, doth appear by the letters which the barons of Bohemia sent unto the Emperor Sigismund by the said Huss, in the town of Constance.
Finally, all the prelates and clergy assembled together in the town of Prague, in the archbishop's court, where appeared personally the worshipful Master John Jessenitz, doctor of decretals and procurer, in the name and behalf of the honourable man, Master John Huss, requiring that either the said Master John Huss, or that he, in the name and behalf of him, might be suffered to come into the said archbishop's court, to the presence of the archbishop, and the prelates which were there congregated together, forasmuch as Master John Huss is ready to satisfy all men which shall require him to show any reason of his faith or hope which he holdeth, and to see and hear all and singular which were there gathered together; that is to say, the lord archbishop and prelates, or any of them which would lay any manner of obstinacy, or error, or heresy unto him: that they should there write in their names, and according both unto God's law and man's, and the canon law, prepare themselves to suffer like punishment, if they could not lawfully prove any obstinacy of error or heresy against him: unto whom altogether he would, by God's help, answer before the said archbishop and the prelates in the next general council holden at Constance, and stand unto the law: and, according to the canons and decretals of the holy fathers, show forth and declare his innocency, in the name of Christ. Unto the which Master John of Jessenitz, doctor, one called Ulricus Swabe, of Swabenitz, marshal of the said archbishop, coming forth of the said court, did utterly deny unto the said master doctor and his party, all manner of ingress and entrance into the court, and to the presence of the archbishop aforesaid, and of the prelates there gathered together; pretending that the archbishop, with the prelates aforesaid, were occupied about the king's affairs: requiring the said master doctor, that he would tarry in some place without the said court, that when the archbishop and the prelates had finished the king's affairs, he might then return, and have liberty to come into the court there. The said Master John Huss and the doctor of law tarried awhile, entreating to be admitted into the archbishop's court; but seeing he could prevail nothing, he made there a solemn protestation of his request, that both he, and also Master John Huss and his party, could not be suffered to come into the archbishop's court, to the presence of the archbishop and the prelates; requiring of the aforesaid notary, public instruments to be made of the same, which also was done.
And these were the things which were done before John Huss took his journey to the general council of Constance, the which I minded briefly to rehearse, whereunto I will also annex somewhat as touching his journey thitherwards.
About the ides of October, 1414, John Huss being accompanied with two noble gentlemen, that is, to wit, Wencelate of Duba, and John of Clum, he departed from Prague, and took his journey towards Constance. And in every place as he passed, he notified his presence by his letters which he sent abroad, and especially in every good town or city of name, the tenor whereof ensueth:
"Master John Huss goeth now unto Constance, there to declare his faith which he hath hitherto holden, and even at this present doth hold, and by God's help will defend and keep even unto death. Therefore, even as he hath manifested throughout all the kingdom of Bohemia by his letters and intimations, willing before his departure to have satisfied and given an account of his faith unto every man, which should object or lay any thing against him in the general convocation holden in the archbishop of Prague's court: so likewise he doth manifest and signify, that if there be any man in this noble and imperial city, the which will impute or lay any error or heresy unto him, that he should prepare himself to come unto the council, forasmuch as the said Master John Huss is ready to satisfy every man at the said council, which shall lay any thing unto his charge as touching his faith."
In all cities as he passed by, and principally when he was departed out of Bohemia and entered into Almain, a great number of people did come unto him, and he was very gently received and entertained of his hosts through all the towns of Germany, andespecially of the citizens and burgesses, and oftentimes of the curates; insomuch that the said Huss did confess, in a certain epistle, that he found in no place so great enemies as in Bohemia. And if it happened that there were any bruit or noise before of his coming, the streets were always full of people which were desirous to see John Huss and gratify him; and, amongst all others, especially at Nuremberg, where certain merchants, which went before, certified the citizens of his coming. In the same city there were many curates which came unto him, desiring him that they might talk with him secretly apart, unto whom he answered, That he loved much rather to pronounce and show forth his mind and opinion openly before all men, than in hugger-mugger, for he would keep nothing close nor hidden. So, after dinner, until it was night, he spake before the priests, senators, and divers other citizens, insomuch that they all had him in great estimation and reverence, one only doctor excepted, which was a charter-house monk, and the curate of St. Sebauld, which did improve all that he had said.
Illustration -- John Huss speaking after dinner
The twentieth day after that he departed out of the town of Prague, which was the third day of November, he came unto Constance, and lodged at an honest matron's house, being a widow named Faith, in St. Galle's Street.
The morrow after, the gentleman, Master John de Clum, and Master Henry Latzemboge, went to speak with the pope, and certified him that John Huss was come, whom they had brought to Constance to the general council, under the emperor's safe-conduct; desiring him also, that he, on his part, would grant the said John Huss liberty to remain in Constance, without any trouble, vexation, or interruption. Unto whom the pope answered, That albeit that John Huss had killed his brother, yet would he go about, as much as in him lay, that no outrage or hurt should be done unto him during his abode in the town of Constance.
In this mean time, the greatest adversary that John Huss had, named Master Stephen Paletz, the which was also a Bohemian born, was come unto Constance. But his companion, Master Stanislaus Znoyma, was not yet passed the borders of Bohemia when he was stricken with an imposthume, whereof he died. As soon as the said Paletz was come to Constance, he did associate unto him one Michael de Causis, the which had before falsely accused and blamed the same John Huss. And this may not be forgotten, that the said Paletz had been familiarly conversant and acquainted with the said John Huss from his youth upward; but after that there was a bull brought unto Prague, from Pope John the Twenty-third, against the king of Apulia, named Ladislaus, the said John Huss withstood it openly, forasmuch as he saw that it was wicked and naught.
And as touching the said Paletz, albeit that he had confessed at a certain banquet, in the presence of the said John Huss, that the said bull was contrary to all equity and right, yet notwithstanding, forasmuch as he was obliged and bound unto the pope, by means of certain benefices received at his hand, he maintained and defended the said bull against John Huss: and this was the cause of the discord and falling out between them. As for Michael de Causis, the companion of Master Paletz, he was sometime the curate of New Prague; but he, not being content therewith, but seeking after a further prey, dreamed, and imagined out a new device how to attain unto it, for he made a semblance that he had found out a new invention, or mean whereby the mines of gold in Gilory, which were perished and lost, might be renewed and set on work again. By this means he did so much with the king Wenceslaus, that he did put a great sum of money into his bands, to do that withal which he had promised.
This honest man, after he had laboured and travailed certain days about it, and perceiving that he brought nothing to pass, and that by that means he was utterly in despair of his purpose, he conveyed himself privily out of the realm of Bohemia, with the rest of the money, and withdrew himself, as a worthy bird for such a nest, into the court of Rome. Such a man, of such conditions, was easily corrupted with money, and that, by the adversaries of the said Huss, and promised them to do what he could for them, the which he did shortly after. These two jolly roisters, Stephen Paletz and Michael de Causis, drew out certain articles against the said Huss, saying, that they had gathered them out of his own writings, and specially out of his treatise which he had written of the church. They trotted up and down, hither and thither, taking great pains to show the said articles unto the cardinals, bishops, and monks, and such other of that sort, doing them also to understand, that there were other matters of greater importance, which the said John Huss had committed and done against the holy constitutions, and other ordinances of the pope and the church; which, if need were, they said they would propound before the council. Through the kindling of this their fire, they did so incense the cardinals and all the priests, that all they, with one mind and consent, thought to cause the good man to be taken and laid hands on.
The twenty-sixth day after the said Huss was come to Constance, during all which time he was occupied in reading, writing, and familiar talk with his friends; the cardinals, through the instigation and motion of Paletz and Michael de Causis, sent two bishops, to wit, the bishop of Augusta, and of Trent, and with them the borough-master of the town of Constance, and a certain knight, to the place where John Huss lodged, about dinner time, which should make report unto him, that they were sent by the pope and his cardinals, to advertise him that he should come to render some knowledge or witness of his doctrine before them, as he had oftentimes desired, and that they were ready to hear him.
Unto whom John Huss answered, "I am not come for any such intent, as to defend my cause particularly before the pope and his cardinals, protesting that I never desired any such thing, but that I would willingly appear before the whole assembly of the council, and there answer for my defence openly, without any fear or doubt, unto all such things as shall be demanded or required of me. Notwithstanding," said he, "forasmuch as you require me so to do, I will not refuse to go with you before the cardinals; and if it happen that they evil entreat or handle me, yet nevertheless, I trust in my Lord Jesus, that he will so comfort and strengthen me, that I shall desire much rather to die for his glory's sake, than to deny the verity and truth which I have learned by his Holy Scriptures." Wherefore it came to pass, that the bishops being instant upon him, and not showing any outward semblance that they bare any malice or hatred against him in their hearts, albeit they had privily laid garrisons both in the house where they were assembled, and also in other houses, John Huss took his horse which he had at his lodgings, and went unto the court of the pope and the cardinals.
When he was come thither, and had saluted the cardinals, they began to speak to him in this sort: "We have heard many reports of you, the which, if they be true. are in no case to be suffered; for men say, that you have taught great and manifest errors, and contrary and against the doctrine of the true church; and that you have sowed your errors abroad through all the realm of Bohemia, by a long space or time; wherefore we have caused you to be called hither before us, that we might understand and know how the matter standeth."
Unto whom John Huss answered in few words: "Reverend fathers, you shall understand that I am thus minded and affectioned, that I should rather choose to die, than I should be found culpable of one only error, much less of many and great errors. For this cause I am the more willingly come unto the general council, which is here appointed, to show myself ready, even with all my heart, to receive correction, if any man can prove any errors in me." The cardinals answered him again, that his sayings pleased them very well; and upon that they went away, leaving the said John Huss, with Master John de Clum, under the guard and keeping of the armed men.
Illustration; John Huss and the Franciscan
In the mean season, they did suborn and furnish out a certain divine, a friar Franciscan, a subtle and crafty man, and a malicious hypocrite, to question with the said John Huss, which was compassed round about with armed men. This man drawing near in his monkish gesture, said, "Reverend master, I, a simple and rude idiot, am come unto you to learn; for I have heard many strange and contrary things against the catholic faith to be ascribed unto you, the which do diversely move my mind, being wholly inclined to the truth. Wherefore I do desire you, even for the love which you bear unto the truth, and to all good and godly men, that you would teach me, most simple and miserable man, some certainty and truth. And first, men say, that you hold opinion that, after the consecration and pronunciation of the words in the sacrament of the altar, there remaineth only material bread." John Huss answered, that it was falsely attributed and imputed unto him. Then said he, "I pray you, is not this your opinion?" "No verily," said John Huss, "I do not so think of it." When the monk asked this question the third time, Master John de Clum, being somewhat moved with him, said, "Why art thou so importunate upon him? Verily, if any man had affirmed or denied any thing unto me but once, I would have believed him. And thou, albeit he hath showed thee his mind so often, yet ceasest not to trouble him." Then said the monk, "Gentle master, I pray you pardon me, a poor idiot and simple friar; surely I did it of a good mind and intent, being willing and desirous to learn." This friar put forth another question unto him, protesting his simplicity and ignorance: "What manner of unity of the Godhead and manhood was in the person of Christ?" When John Huss had heard this question, he, turning himself unto Master John de Clum, in the Bohemian language said: "Truly this friar is not simple as he doth pretend, for he hath propounded unto me a very hard question." And afterwards, turning himself to the friar, he said unto him, "Brother! you say that you are simple, but as I have heard of you, I perceive very well that you are double and crafty, and not simple." "It is not so, verily," said the friar. "Well," said John Huss, "I will cause you well to understand that it is so. For as touching the simplicity of a man, it is required in things that concern civility and manners, that the spirit, the understanding, the heart, the words, and the mouth, should agree together: and I do not perceive that this is in you. There is in your mouth a certain semblance of simplicity, the which would very well declare you to be an idiot and simple, but your deeds show plainly and evidently a great subtlety and craft in you, with a great quickness and liveliness of wit, in that you have proponed unto me so hard and difficult a question. Notwithstanding, I will not fear to show you my mind in this question." And when he had made an end, the monk gave him great thanks for his gentleness, and so departed. After that, the pope's garrison which was about the said John Huss, told him that this friar was called Master Didace, who was esteemed and counted the greatest and most subtle divine in all Lombardy. "Oh!" said John Huss, "that I had known that before; I would have handled him after another sort and fashion: but I would to God they were all such; then, through the help and aid of the Holy Scriptures, I would fear none of them."
In this manner the said Huss and Master John de Clum were left under the keeping of these men of arms, until four of the clock in the afternoon. After which time the cardinals assembled again in the pope's court, to devise and take counsel what they should do with John Huss. Then Stephen Paletz and Michael de Causis, with divers other of their adherents, made earnest suit that he should not be let go at liberty again, and having the favour of the judges on their part, they bragged up and down in a manner as they had been mad-men, and mocked the said John Huss, saying, "Now we will hold thee well enough; thou art under our power and jurisdiction, and shalt not depart until such time as thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
A little before night, they sent the provost of the Roman court unto Master John de Clum, to show him that be might return to his lodging; but as for John Huss, they had otherwise provided for him. When Master John de Clum heard this news, he was wonderfully displeased, forasmuch as through their crafts, subtleties, and glosing words, they had so trained this good man into their snares; whereupon he went unto the pope, declaring unto him all that was done; most humbly beseeching him, that he would call to remembrance the promise which he had made unto him and Master Henry Latzemboge, and that he would not so lightly falsify and break his faith and promise. The pope answered, that all these things were done without his consent or commandment; and said further to Master Clum apart, "What reason is it that you should impute this deed unto me, seeing that you know well enough that I myself am in the hands of these cardinals and bishops?"
In mine opinion, forasmuch as Pope John feared that which indeed did after follow, that he should be deprived of his dignity, he thought to win the favour of these Herodian cardinals and bishops, by betraying this good man unto them. So the said Master Clum returned very pensiveful and sorry; he complained very sore, both privily and openly, of the injury and outrage that the pope had done; but all profited nothing. After this, the said John Huss was led by the officers to the chapter-house of the great church of Constance, where he was kept prisoner by the space of eight days; from thence he was carried unto the Jacobines, hard by the river Rhine, and was shut up in the prison of the abbey, the which was hard by the Bogardes.
Illustration -- John Huss in prison
After he had been enclosed there a certain time, he fell sore sick of an ague, by means of the stench of the place, and became so weak, that they despaired of his life. And for fear lest this good man should die in prison, as others are wont to do, the pope sent unto him certain of his physicians to cure and help him. In the midst of his sickness his accusers made importunate suit to the principals of the council, that the said John Huss might be condemned, and presented unto the pope these articles hereunder written:
"First, he doth err about the sacraments of the church, and especially about the sacrament of the body of Christ, forasmuch as he hath openly preached, that it ought to be ministered openly unto the people under both kinds, that is to say, the body and blood. This article is evident, forasmuch as his disciples at this instant in Prague do minister the same in both kinds. Moreover, it is affirmed by divers, that he hath taught both in the schools and in the church, or at the least that he doth hold this opinion, that after the words of consecration pronounced upon the altar, there remaineth still material bread in the sacrament. This article shall be known by his examination.
"Secondly, He doth err as touching the ministers of the church, forasmuch as he saith, that they cannot consecrate or minister the sacraments when they are in mortal sin. This article shall likewise be known by his examination: notwithstanding, all that which is here contained may be gathered by his writings De Ecclesia; the which if he deny, let there then be some divines and others appointed, to peruse and look over his said writings of the church. Moreover he saith, that other men besides priests may minister the sacrament. This article is evident, forasmuch as his disciples do the same at Prague, the which of themselves do violently take the sacrament out of the treasury, and communicate among themselves, when the holy communion is denied unto them. By this and other things also it is sufficiently evident, that he hath taught that every man, being without mortal sin, hath the power of orders or priesthood, forasmuch as such only as have taken orders ought to minister the sacrament unto themselves. And because he proceedeth from small matters unto great and weightier, it doth consequently appear and follow, that those which be in state of grace can bind and loose.
"Thirdly, He doth err as touching the church, and especially for that he doth not allow and admit that the church signifieth the pope, cardinals, archbishops, and the clergy underneath them; but saith, that this signification was drawn out from the schoolmen, and is in no case to be holden or allowed. This article is manifest by his said treatise upon the church.
"Moreover, He doth err concerning the church, in that he saith, that the church ought not to have any temporal possessions. And that the temporal lords may take them away from the church and the clergy without any offence. This error is evident, forasmuch as through his doctrine and enticements many churches in the kingdom of Bohemia, and in the city of Prague, are already spoiled and robbed of a great part of their temporalties and goods. He saith also, that Constantine and other secular princes erred by enriching and enduing churches and monasteries. This article is manifest by that which goeth next before.
"Fourthly, He erreth as touching the church, in that he saith, that all priests are of like power; and therefore affirmeth, that the reservations of the pope's casualties, the ordering of bishops, and the consecration of the priests, were invented only for covetousness. This article doth somewhat appear by those aforegoing, but by his examination shall be more evident.
"Fifthly, He erreth concerning the church, in that he saith, that the church, being in sin, hath no power of the keys, when the pope, cardinals, and all other of the priests and clergy are in deadly sin, the which he saith is possible enough. This also doth appear in his treatise upon the church, in his first error as touching the ministers of the church.
"Sixthly, He erreth touching the church, forasmuch as through contempt he doth not fear excommunication. This doth notoriously appear by his own doings, that he did contemn and despise the apostolic and ordinary censure; and in all the apostolic excommunications and injunctions he hath borne himself upon the divine commandments; and in contempt of the keys, to the setting out of his hypocrisy, he hath said mass all the ways between this and the city of Prague, and thereby hath profaned the process and authority of the church.
"Seventhly, He erreth again as touching the church, because he keepeth not the institutions and investitures thereof, but holdeth opinion that every man hath authority to invest and appoint any man to the cure of souls. This is evident by his own doings, forasmuch as many in the kingdom of Bohemia, by their defenders and favourers, or rather by himself, were appointed and put into parish churches, the which they have long ruled and kept, not being appointed by the apostolic see, neither yet by the ordinary of the city of Prague.
"Eighthly, He erreth as touching the church, in that he holdeth opinion, that a man, being once ordained a priest or a deacon, cannot be forbidden or kept back from the office of preaching. This is likewise manifest by his own doings, forasmuch as he himself could never be letted from preaching, neither by the apostolic see, neither yet by the archbishop of Prague.
"And to the intent that the said John Huss, who is clothed in sheep's clothing, and inwardly a ravening wolf, may be the better known by his fruits, for the better information of you, most reverend fathers, I say, that from the first time that he took in hand, or went about to sow such errors and heresies, the which afterward he did indeed, he, understanding and perceiving himself to be withstanded and gainsaid by the Germans, which were in the university of Prague, forasmuch as he could conclude nothing, because they had three voices, and he on his part had but one voice only: he went about and brought to pass, and that by the secular power, that the Germans should have but one voice, and he and his parts three voices; the which thing when the Germans once perceived, rather then they would lose or forsake any part of their right which they had in voices, or be in danger in their persons, the which would then have ensued upon it, to save themselves, they wholly, with one consent, agreed together to depart out of Prague; and by this means this solemn and famous university of Prague was made desolate, that had brought forth so many notable men in divers sciences. Behold this his first-fruits, which divided that so famous university, forasmuch as grapes are not gathered of thorns, neither figs of brambles.
"Moreover, when there were questions moved amongst the divines of the university of Prague upon the forty-five articles of John Wickliff, and that they had called a convocation, and all the divines of Bohemia, (for the Germans were already departed,) they concluded that every one of those articles were either heretical, seditious, or erroneous. He alone held the contrary opinion, that none of those articles were either heretical, seditious, or erroneous, as afterward he did dispute, hold, and teach, in the common schools of Prague; whereby it is evidently enough foreseen, that he doth affirm those articles of Wickliff, the which are not only condemned in England, but also by the whole church, because they were first invented and set forth by the members of antichrist.
"Moreover, he being complained of to the archbishop of Prague, that he preached and set forth certain articles which were heretical, false, and seditious, he was forbidden by the said archbishop to preach any more, who proceeded against him, according to the canonical sanctions; the which process is confirmed by the apostolic see, and published as well in the court of Rome, as without; the which John Huss and his adherents have divers and manifold ways violated and profaned. And whosoever did speak against him, they were deprived of their benefices, and others placed in, which have ruled and yet do rule the said churches, and the flocks pertaining to the same, not having any cure or charge of the souls committed unto them, neither by the apostolic see, neither yet by the ordinary of the place.
"Also as many, as well priests as laymen, in the city of Prague and kingdom of Bohemia, which have spoken against the doctrine of Huss, and the profanation of the process aforesaid, or at the least not allowing the same, have suffered most mortal hatred and persecutions, and yet to this day do suffer, but that at this present it is dissimuled until the end of the proccss against John Huss. Wherefore, if he be now let go again, without doubt they shall suffer great persecution both in body and goods, and throughout all the realm of Bohemia 'house shall be against house;' and this mischief will creep, yea, suddenly spring up throughout all Germany, and innumerable souls shall be infected, so that there shall he such persecution of the clergy and faithful, as hath not been since the time of the Emperor Constantine to this present day; for he ceaseth not to move and stir up the laity against the clergy and faithful Christians. And, when any of the clergy would draw him away, or call him from his heresy, and for that cause doth forbid him to preach, that he do not teach any heresies; then saith he, and teacheth, that the clergy do that of envy and malice, because he rebuketh their vices and faults; that is to say, their simony, and pride, and covetousness.
"Moreover, he stirreth up the secular princes against the prelates of churches, monasteries, and universities, and generally against the whole clergy. Going about by this means, he preacheth and teacheth that prelates and other men of the church ought not to have any temporal goods or possessions, but only to live upon alms. And by this means be hath done already very much hurt, and annoyed divers and many prelates, clerks, and churches in the kingdom of Bohemia and city of Prague, forasmuch as thereby they are already spoiled and robbed of their possessions. Yea, he teacheth also that it is lawful for the lay-people without sin, to withhold and keep back the tithes and oblations, or to give the church-goods to any other minister; all the secular princes are greatly inclined hereunto, but especially the laity, who follow every man his own will.
"He hath generally to lay for himself all those heretics which do but very smally regard the ecclesiastical censures, and hate the authority of the Roman Church, yea, do utterly detest and abhor the same; the which thing will more and more increase, except it be effectually and manfully withstood: and if he do by any means escape from the council, he and his favourers will say that his doctrine is just and true, and that it is allowed by the authority of the universal sacred council, and that all his adversaries are wicked and naughty men; so that he would do more mischief, than ever any heretic did since the time of Constantine the Great. "Wherefore, most holy fathers, provide and take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock amongst whom the Holy Ghost hath placed you, to rule the church of Christ, the which he hath purchased with his own blood; and whilst the disease is new and fresh, help and remedy it, as well touching him which doth so infect and trouble the church of God, as also concerning the occasions, through the which he hath presumed, and might do the same, because the prelates do abuse the ecclesiastical censures, and as well the prelates as those that are under them, do not keep and observe the order of the church which is appointed them by God; whereby it cometh to pass, that whilst they themselves do walk the broken and unknown paths, their flock falleth headlong into the ditch.
"Wherefore let our sovereign lord the pope, and this most sacred council, ordain and depute commissioners, the which may examine the said John Huss upon all aforewritten, and other things in the presence of them which know the matter. Let there be also certain doctors and masters appointed to read over and peruse his books which he hath written, whereof some are here present; that the church may be speedily purged and cleansed from these errors."
Upon this his accusation, they ordained and appointed three commissioners or judges; that is to say, the patriarch of Constantinople, and the bishop of Castile, and the bishop of Lybusse; the which prelates being thus deputed, heard the accusation and the witness which was brought in by certain babbling priests of Prague, confirmed by their oaths, and afterwards recited the said accusation unto the said Huss in the prison, at such time as his ague was fervent and extremely upon him.
Upon this, John Huss required to have an advocate to answer for him; the which was plainly and utterly denied him. And the reasons that the masters and commissioners brought against it was this, that the plain canon doth forbid that any man should be a defender of any cause of his, which is suspected of any kind of heresy. The vanity and folly of the witnesses was such, that if in case they had not been both the accusers and judges themselves, there should have needed no distinct confutation. I would have rehearsed the testimonies in this place, but that I knew them to be such, as the prudent and wise reader could have read without great tediousness. Howbeit, some of them shall be declared, when we come to the process of his judgment.
Afterward, when John Huss had recovered a little strength or health, by the commandment of the three commissioners, there were presented unto him certain articles, many in number, which, they said, they had gathered out of his book which he made of the church; of which articles some were forged and invented by Master Paletz, and other some were gathered only by halves, as shall be more plainly declared hereafter, when we come to speak of the judgment pronounced and given against the said Huss.
Thus John Huss remained in the prison of the convent of the Franciscans, until the Wednesday before Palm Sunday, and certain appointed to keep him; and in the mean season, to employ and spend his time withal, he wrote certain books, that is to say, of the ten commandments, of the love and knowledge of God, of matrimony, of penance, of the three enemies of mankind, of the prayer of our Lord, and of the supper of our Lord.
The same day Pope John the Twenty-third changed his apparel, and conveyed himself secretly out of Constance, fearing the judgment by the which afterwards he was deprived of his papal dignity, by means of most execrable and abominable forfeits and doings. This was the cause that John Huss was transported and carried unto another prison; for the pope's servants, which had the charge and keeping of John Huss, understanding that their master was fled and gone, delivered up the keys of the prison unto the Emperor Sigismund, and to the cardinals, and followed their master the pope. Then, by the whole consent of the council, the said John Huss was put into the hands of the bishop of Constance, who sent him to a castle on the other side of the river of Rhine, not very far from Constance, where he was shut up in a tower with fetters on his legs, that he could scarce walk in the day-time, and at night he was fastened up to a rack against the wall hard by his bed.
In the mean season, certain noblemen and gentlemen of Poland and Bohemia did all their endeavour to purchase his deliverance, having respect to the good renown of all the realm, the which was wonderfully defamed and slandered by certain naughty persons. The matter was grown unto this point, that all they which were in the town of Constance, that seemed to bear any favour unto John Huss, were made as mocking-stocks, and derided of all men, yea, even of the slaves and base people. 'Wherefore they took counsel and concluded together to present their request in writing unto the whole council, or at the least unto the four nations, of Almain, Italy, France, and England: this request was presented the fourteenth day of May, A. D. 1415; the tenor here ensueth:
"Most reverend fathers and lords, the nobles and lords of Bohemia and Poland here present, by these their present writings do show and declare unto your fatherly reverences, how that the most noble king and lord, the Lord Sigismund, king of Romans, always Augustus, king of Hungary, Croatia, Dalmatia, &c., hearing of the great dissension that was in the kingdom of Bohemia, as heir, king, and lord successor, willing and minding to foresee and provide for his own honour, sent these noblemen, Master Wencelate de Duba, and John de Clum here present, that they would bring and assure Master John Huss under the king's name and safe-conduct; so that he would come to the sacred general council of Constance, under the safe-conduct of the said king, and the protection of the said empire, openly given and granted unto the said Master John Huss, that he might purge himself and the kingdom of Bohemia from the slander that was raised upon them, and there to make an open declaration of his faith to every man that would lay any thing to his charge: the which the said nobles, with the forenamed Master John Huss, have performed and done, according to the king's commandment.
"Whereas the said Master John Huss was freely of his own accord come unto Constance, under the said safe-conduct, he was grievously imprisoned before he was heard, and at this present is tormented both with fetters, and also with hunger and thirst. Albeit that in times past, at the council holden at Pisa, in the year of our Lord 1410, the heretics which were condemned, were suffered to remain there at liberty, and to depart home freely; notwithstanding this, Master John Huss, neither being convicted nor condemned, no not so much as once heard, is taken and imprisoned, whereas neither king nor any prince elector, neither any ambassador of any university, was yet come or present. And albeit the lord the king, together with the nobles and lords here present, most instantly required and desired, that as touching his safe-conduct they would foresee and have respect unto his honour, and that the said Master John Huss might be openly heard, forasmuch as he would render and show a reason of his faith; and if he were found and convicted obstinately to affirm or maintain any thing against the truth of Holy Scripture, that then he ought to correct and amend the same, according to the instruction and determination of the council; yet could he never obtain this. But the said Master John Huss, notwithstanding all this, is most grievously oppressed with fetters and irons, and so weakened with thin and slender diet, that it is to be feared, lest that, his power and strength being hereby consumed and wasted, he should be put in danger of his wit or reason.
"And although the lords of Bohemia here present are greatly slandered, because they, seeing the said Master John Hues so to be tormented and troubled, contrary to the king's safe-conduct, have not by their letters put the king in mind of his said safe-conduct, that the said lord and king should not any more suffer any such matters, forasmuch as they tend to the contempt and disregard of the kingdom of Bohemia, which from the first original and beginning, since it received the catholic faith, never departed or went away from the obedience of the holy Church of Rome; yet, notwithstanding, they have suffered and borne all these things patiently hitherto, lest by any means, occasion of trouble or vexation of this sacred council might arise or spring thereof.
"Wherefore, most reverend fathers and lords, the nobles and lords, before named, do wholly and most earnestly desire and require your reverences here present, that both for the honour of the safe-conduct of our said lord the king, and also for the preservation and increase of the worthy fame and renown, both of the aforesaid kingdom of Bohemia, and your own also, you will make a short end about the affairs of Master John Huss; forasmuch as by the means of his strait handling he is in great danger by any longer delay; even as they do most specially trust upon the most upright consciences and judgments of your fatherly reverences. But, forasmuch as, most reverend fathers and lords, it is now come to the knowledge and understanding of the nobles and lords of Bohemia here present, how that certain backbiters and slanderers of the most famous kingdom of Bohemia aforesaid, have declared and told unto your reverences, how that the sacrament of the most precious blood of our Lord is carried up and down through Bohemia in vessels not consecrated or hallowed, and that cobblers do now hear confessions, and minister the most blessed body of our Lord unto others: the nobles, therefore, of Bohemia here present, require and desire you, that you will give no credit unto false promoters and tale-tellers, for that, as most wicked and naughty slanderers and backbiters of that kingdom aforesaid, they do report and tell untruths; requiring also your reverences, that such slanderous persons of the kingdom aforesaid may be named and known. And the lord the king, together with your reverences, shall well perceive and see, that the lords of Bohemia will go about in such manner to refel and put away the false and frivolous slanders of these naughty persons, that they shall be ashamed to appear hereafter before the lord the king and your reverences."
As soon as this their supplication was read, the bishop of Luthonis, rising up, said, "Most reverend fathers, I well perceive and understand, that the last part of this writing doth touch me, my familiars, and friends, as though the kingdom of Bohemia were slandered by us. Wherefore I desire to have time and space of deliberation, that I may purge myself from this crime that is laid against me." The principal of the council appointed him the seventeenth day of May, at which day the lords of Bohemia should be present again, to hear both the answers of the council, and also the excuse of the bishop of Luthonis; the which thing indeed was afterward performed, for, the seventeenth day of May, which which was the fourth day before Whitsuntide, they met there again; where, first of all, a certain bishop, in the name of the whole council, answered by word to the nobles of Bohemia; the contents of whose answer may easily be known by the second supplication which the Bohemians put up to the council. But first, I shall here, in these few words following, show how the bishop of Luthonis defended himself against that which is before written.
"Most reverend fathers and noble lords, as Peter de Mladoneywitz, bachelor of arts, in the name of certain of the nobles of the kingdom of Bohemia, in his writings, amongst other things did propound how that certain slanderers and backbiters of the said kingdom, have brought to the ears of your reverences, that the most precious blood of Christ is carried up and down in Bohemia in bottles, and that cobblers do hear confessions, and minister the body of Christ unto others; whereupon, most reverend fathers and lords, albeit that I, together with the other prelates, doctors, masters, and other innumerable catholics of the said kingdom, the which do desire, as much as in them lieth, to defend the faith of Christ, have laboured for the extirpation and rooting out of that most wicked and detestable sect of Wickliff's, which now (alas! for sorrow) beginneth to spring and rise in the said kingdom, as it is well known: notwithstanding, here, in this my oration, not for any shame or reproof, but for the honour of the kingdom aforesaid, I have propounded and declared a certain new sect, which is now lately sprung up in the said kingdom, the followers whereof do minister and communicate the sacraments in many cities, towns, and places of the said kingdom, under both kinds, both of bread and wine, and do constantly teach the common people, both men and women, that it is so to be communicated, obstinately affirming the same, and that the clergy which do repugn or say nay unto it, are to be counted church robbers; as by the writings of their assertions, being directed and presented hither, shall openly appear.
"Moreover, by the report and fame which goeth here abroad, and by the writings which were sent over unto me, I have propounded that it came to my knowledge, that the blood of Christ is carried about in vessels not consecrated, approving the aforesaid erroneous assertion of the Wicklevists, that affirm it necessary for salvation, that the people should communicate under both kinds of bread and wine; and that it is necessary, as the body of Christ is carried in the pix or box, so the blood of Christ should be carried in bottles, or other necessary vessels, from place to place, and especially about the ministration of the sick. Also I declared not of myself, but I heard it to be declared by others, both great and credible persons, that there was a certain woman, a follower of that sect, the which, taking by violence the body of Christ out of a priest's hands, did communicate unto herself, and affirmed that all men ought to do so, if the priests should deny them the communion. And the same woman, amongst many other errors of the which she was convicted, did affirm that a good laywoman might better consecrate and give absolution, than an evil priest; affirming that an evil priest can neither consecrate nor absolve. But I know that neither I, neither any of my assistants in this matter, have brought this at any time unto your ears, that cobblers in the said kingdom do hear confession, or minister the sacrament of the body of Christ, as is alleged by the said Peter, in the behalf of the said supplicants. Notwithstanding that, we did fear, if means were not found to recounter or stop the offences before named, that this would immediately follow upon it. Wherefore, most reverend fathers, lest that the kingdom might be defamed any more by such pestiferous sects, and that the Christian faith might happen to be endangered, with all reverence and charity, I do desire you, even by the bowels of mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this most sacred council would provide some speedy remedy for this kingdom, as touching the premises.
"Moreover, whether be they backbiters and slanderers, or wicked and false enviers of the kingdom of Bohemia, the which do let the errors aforesaid, and many others more, which are sown by the Wicklevists in the said kingdom, and also elsewhere? which also both do labour, and have laboured, for the extirpation and rooting out of those errors out of the kingdom aforesaid, and as catholic men, for the zeal of their faith have manifestly put forth themselves against the maintainers of the said errors, or such as do maintain and defend the teachers of those errors? This answer I have here presented before your reverences, always wholly submitting myself and assistants unto your judgment, and to the definition of this most sacred council of Constance."
The day before Whitsuntide, the nobles of Bohemia did confute this their answer, made two days before in the council to their former writing, as here followeth:
"Most reverend fathers and lords, forasmuch as upon Thursday it was answered in the behalf of your reverences, to the requests of the nobles and lords of Bohemia, that the said lords were misinformed of divers points contained in the declaration of their said bill; therefore the aforesaid lords have now determined and decreed, to declare their former propounded requests more at large unto your reverences, not minding hereby to argue or reprove your fatherly wisdoms and circumspections; but that your reverences (their desires being partly on this behalf fulfilled) might the more effectuously and distinctly discern and judge as touching this matter.
"And first of all, whereas the lords alleged and said, how that Master John Huss was come hither unto Constance freely of his own good will, under the safe-conduct of the lord the king, and the protection of the sacred empire; it is answered on the behalf of your reverences, how that the said lords are misinformed as touching the safe-conduct, and that you have understood by such as are worthy credit, that the friends and favourers of the said Master John Huss, did first procure and get his safe-conduct, fifteen days after his imprisonment.
"The lords of Bohemia, and specially the Lord John de Clum here present, whom this matter doth chiefly touch, doth answer, that not only the fifteenth day after, but even the very same day that John Huss was apprehended and taken, when our reverend father the pope, in the presence of all his cardinals, demanded of Master John de Clum, whether Master John Huss had any safe-conduct from the king his son, he answered, Most holy father and cardinals, know ye that he hath a safe-conduct; and when he was asked the question again the second time, he answered in like manner.
"Yet, notwithstanding, none of them required to have the safe-conduct showed unto them and again, the third day following, the Lord John de Clum complained unto our lord the pope, how, notwithstanding the safe-conduct of our sovereign lord the king, he detained and kept Master John Huss as prisoner, showing the said safe-conduct unto many. And for the further truth herein, he referreth himself unto the testimonies and witnesses of divers earls, bishops, knights, gentlemen, and famous citizens of the town of Constance, the which all together at this present, did see the said safe-conduct, and heard it read; whereupon the said John de Clum is ready to bind himself under what penalty shall be required, evidently to prove and confirm that which he hath promised, whosoever say to the contrary.
"Moreover, the lords of Bohemia refer themselves unto the knowledge of certain princes electors, and other princes, bishops, and many other noblemen, which were present before the king's Majesty, where and when the said safe-conduct was granted and given out by the special commandment of our said lord the king.
"Hereby your fatherly reverences may understand and perceive that the said lords of Bohemia are not evil informed as touching the said safe-conduct; but rather they, which by such reports have falsely and untruly informed your reverences. And first of all, they have offended against the lord our king, and his chancellors. Secondly, against the lords and nobles of Bohemia, as though we had privily and by stealth purchased the said safe-conduct. Wherefore the lords aforesaid most humbly require and desire your reverences, that you will not so lightly believe such as be not worthy of credit; but rather, hearing the contrary part, to labour and discuss, that the truth may the more evidently appear.
"Secondly, Whereas the lords aforesaid, alleging how Master John Huss, coming unto Constance of his own free will, being neither condemned nor heard, was imprisoned, your reverences have made answers thereunto, that he, the said Master John Huss, in the time of Alexander the Fifth, was infamed and slandered upon certain heresies, and thereupon cited personally to appear in the court of Rome, and there was heard by his procurers.
"And forasmuch as he refused obstinately to appear, he was excommunicated; in the which excommunication he continued, as you affirm, by the space of five years: for the which he was judged, and counted not only a simple and plain heretic, but a heresiarch, that is to say, an inventor and sower of new and strange heresies; and that he, coming toward Constance, did preach by the way openly. To this the lords aforesaid do answer, that, as touching his slander and citation, they can affirm nothing but by report. But, as touching that he did not personally appear, they say they have heard both himself and divers other credible persons say, yea, even the most famous Prince Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, and almost all the whole nobility is witness, that he would willingly have appeared at Rome, or elsewhere, if he might safely have come thither, and that deadly enmity had not letted: and, moreover, his procurers which he sent unto the court of Rome, alleging reasonble causes for his non-appearance, some of them were cast into prison, and others were evil entreated.
"As for the excommunication which he hath so long sustained, they have often heard him say, that he hath not resisted against the same by contumacy, or stubbornness, but under evident appellation, and thereupon referreth himself unto the acts of his causes which were pleaded in the court of Rome, wherein all this is more largely contained; the which your reverences may easily perceive and see in this our present public transumpt, which we have offered unto you upon certain points aforesaid.
"As concerning his preaching, wherewithal his enemies do report and charge, that Master John Huss did preach openly in the city of Constance; the lords aforesaid, and especially the Lord John de Clum here present, do answer, that he hath continually lodged with the said Master John Huss, here in Constance, and that whosoever they be, that have been so bold, or dare be so bold, to say and affirm that Master John Huss had preached, as is premised, or, which is less, that since the time of his coming unto this city, even unto the very day and time of his captivity and imprisonment, that he went but one step out of the house of his lodging, that the said Lord John de Clum will and is content to bind himself with any such as shall affirm the same, under what penalty soever it be, of money or otherwise, that that which they have falsely reported unto your reverences, they shall never be able justly and truly to affirm and prove.
"Thirdly, Whereas your reverences do say, that you do not understand or know, what the lords do mean, by the heretics condemned at the council holden at Pisa, whether the mocking or deriding of the pope, whose ambassadors came thither for unity or concord, the which were suffered, and gently treated, as their lords were most inclined unto unity and peace; or else that they did understand or mean the particular heretics, which were there condemned; adjoining thereunto, that the heretics also coming unto the council under the pretence of that unity, should be gently handled and. entreated, &c. Reverend fathers and lords, whether they be counted the first, or that they be thought the second or last, the lords aforesaid require none other thing, but that the said Master John Huss may use such liberty as they used, forasmuch as he came willingly unto this most sacred council, not for any other purpose, but only publicly to recognise his faith. And in what point soever he shall seem to vary from the word of God, and the union of the holy mother the church, in that point he will willingly be united and reconciled again thereunto; and not only himself, but also his favourers and adherents he would move and provoke thereunto, of whom the greater number are in the kingdom of Bohemia. Also he is come hither, that he might purge and clear the noble kingdom of Bohemia from the sinister and evil slander which was raised upon it.
"Last of all, most reverend fathers and lords, forasmuch as your reverences have most favourably answered unto the principal request made by the lords aforesaid, that the process of Master John Huss, through God's help, should be determined and ended with all expedition and gentleness; the lords aforesaid do render most hearty thanks unto your reverences, and whensoever their desire, by God's help, shall come to the end or effect long wished or looked for, they will not only here, but also before the whole kingdom of Bohemia, and in all other places wheresoever they come, render most immortal thanks unto your reverences for ever."
Whereas the noblemen of Bohemia by long time could receive no answer of those supplications which they had already put up, they determined, the last day of May following, by another supplication being put up unto the principals of the council, to entreat that John Huss might be delivered out of prison, and defend his own cause openly: they also put up the testimonial of the bishop of Nazareth as touching John Huss; the copy whereof is expressed in the beginning of this history, word by word.
Another supplication of the nobles of Bohemia.
"Most reverend fathers and lords in Christ, of late there was a supplication put up unto your reverences on the behalf of the lords and nobles of Bohemia, and the nation of the Poles, wherein they most humbly desired your reverences to consider how the informations which were put up unto your reverences, by the enemies of Master John Huss, were insufficient, and, with reverence be it spoken, in many points untrue; as in the safe-conduct granted by the king's Majesty, and also in other articles, as more plainly appeareth in the schedule, which was then offered unto you; upon the which said schedule and other things at that present, being put up, they could not as yet receive any answer. Wherefore the lords aforesaid most humbly require your fatherly reverences, that it would please you to consider the said supplication, and to give some answer to the lords aforesaid thereupon, and specially having respect unto the great injuries and griefs which are done unto the said Master John Huss, the which may be understood and known by the schedule aforesaid, that you will mercifully consider and foresee, that all those griefs and evils, so far different from all brotherly love and charity, are done unto him by his enemies even for very malice and hatred.
"To the intent, therefore, that the rancour and malice may be confounded and overthrown, and the plain and evident truth appear, it may please your fatherly reverences to understand that it is notified and known unto the barons, nobles, and citizens, the clergy and laity, of the kingdom of Bohemia, that Master John Huss in all his acts and doings, as well scholastical as ecclesiastical, and especially in all his public and open sermons, hath made, and hath accustomed to make, these manner of protestations; and which, without any thing to the contrary, he hath always endeavoured to have them strong and firm, as by this his protestation here following, (which he made about the determination of a certain question,) it may most evidently and plainly appear unto every man which would behold and look upon the same: the form and tenor whereof here followeth, and is such."
The protestation of John Huss.
"'Forasmuch as about all things I do desire the honour of God, the profit of the holy church, and that I myself may be a faithful member of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the head and husband of the holy church which he hath redeemed; therefore, as heretofore oftentimes I have done, even so now again, I make this protestation: That I never obstinately said, or hereafter will say, any thing that shall be contrary unto the truth and verity; and, moreover, that I have always holden, do hold, and firmly desire to hold, the very true and infallible truth and verity; so that before that I would defend and maintain any error contrary thereunto, I would rather choose, by the hope and help of the Lord, to suffer extreme punishment, even unto death: yea, and through the help of God, I am ready to offer this, my miserable life unto death for the law of Christ, the which I do believe, every part and parcel thereof, to be given and promulgated for the salvation of mankind, by the counsel and determination of the most holy Trinity and the saints of God,' &c.
"By the which his protestation, and also other protestations by the said Master John Huss, being well observed and noted, it may be easily gathered and known, that his whole intent and purpose was and is, that he neither would nor will have spoken or written any thing in his books, treatises, doctrines, or public sermons; or else to have affirmed any articles, the which willingly and wittingly he did understand or know to be erroneous, offensive, seditious, heretical, or offending the godly ear; albeit that these and such-like things are falsely imputed unto him by his enemies. But it hath always been his chief intent and purpose, and so is, that every point, conclusion, or article, contained in his books or articles, to have put and affirmed them to this end, according to the truth of the gospel, the holy doctors, and writers upon the Holy Scriptures; and to that end and purpose, as is before expressed in his protestations: and if in any point he should be found to vary or go astray, or that he were not well understood of others, by like information to be informed, understood, corrected, and amended: and that he will by no means sustain or defend any manner of article against the holy Church of Rome, or the catholic faith.
"Wherefore, most reverend fathers, the premises notwithstanding, his enemies, through the extreme hatred which they bear unto him, have picked and taken out by piecemeal, certain articles out of the books of Master John Huss, rejecting and not looking upon the allegations and reasons, neither having any relation unto the distinction of their equivocations, have compounded and made thereof certain false and feigned articles against him to this end, that, all charity and love being set apart, they might the better overthrow him, and bring him unto death, contrary unto the safe-conduct upon good and just occasion openly assigned and given unto the said Master John Huss, by the most noble prince the Lord Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary, for his just defence against all the frivolous accusations and assaults of the enemies, not only of the said Master John Huss, but also of the famous kingdom of Bohemia, and for the quiet appeasing of all such tumults and rumours rising and springing in the said kingdom of Bohemia, or elsewhere; the avoiding of which most perilous uproars, the said king of Romans doth greatly desire and wish, as the right heir and successor of the said kingdom.
"Whereupon, the barons and nobles aforesaid most humbly desire and require, the premises being considered, and respect had unto the great infamy and slander which may happen by the premises unto the said kingdom and inhabitants thereof, that you will put to your hands and take some order and means, that Master John Huss may be directly heard by some famous men, divines, already deputed, or otherwise to be appointed, upon all and singular such articles as shall be laid unto him; to declare his own mind and intent, and also the mind of the doctors alleged for this purpose, with the manifold distinctions and equivocations, in the which the drawers-out of the most part of his articles have also made equivocations, that so, according unto the disposition of the witnesses, of the which a great number of them are and have a long time been his mortal enemies, that at the frivolous instigation of his enemies, when he was miserably detained prisoner, that he should not be condemned unheard. Forasmuch as by the said declarations your fatherly reverences might be the better informed of the truth, he himself is ready always to submit himself under the determination of this most sacred council. For your reverences, by the crafty and feigned persuasions of his enemies, are thus informed, that Master John Huss hath been uncurably obstinate for a long time, in most perilous articles, the which your reverences may now plainly perceive to be untrue: and for the more evidence herein to be showed, there is presented unto your reverences an instrument of public recognition of the most reverend Father in Christ, the Lord Nicholas, bishop of Nazareth, an inquisitor of heresies, specially appointed by the apostolic see in the diocese of Prague, the which by your reverences is more diligently to be hearkened unto.
"Wherefore it may please your fatherly reverences to command the said Master John Huss, neither convicted nor condemned, to be taken and brought out of his bonds and chains, in the which he is now most grievously detained and kept, and to put him into the hands of some reverend lords, bishops, or commissioners, appointed, or to be appointed, by this present council; that the said Master John Huss may somewhat be relieved, and recover again his health, and be the more diligently and commodiously examined by the commissioners. And for the more assurance, the barons and nobles aforesaid, of the kingdom of Bohemia, will provide most sure and good sureties, the which will not break their fidelity and faith for any thing in the world; which also shall promise in this behalf, that he shall not flee or depart out of their hands, until such time as the matter be fully determined by the said commissioners. In the execution of the which premises, we have determined to provide and foresee, unto the fame and honour of the said kingdom of Bohemia, and also to the safe-conduct of the most worthy prince, the king of Romans; lest that the enemies and detractors of the honour and fame of the kingdom aforesaid, might not a little slander and reprove the said lords, pretending and showing forth hereafter, that they had made unreasonable or unlawful requests: for the withstanding of which mischief, we require your fatherly reverences, that you will decree, and most graciously consent, that this our petition and supplication may be drawn out again by your notary, and reduced into public form and order."
After this supplication was read before the deputies of the four nations, the patriarch of Antioch answered in the name of them all, unto every article the said supplication; but it was done in few words.
"First, as touching the protestation of John Huss, whether it be true or false, it shall be made evident in the process of his cause. Moreover, whereas they say that the adversaries of John Huss have perversely drawn certain things out of his books: that, also, the matter itself shall declare in the end; whereas, if it shall be found and decreed that John Huss is unjustly and untruly accused, that then it shall come to pass that his adversaries shall incur perpetual ignominy and slander. But as touching sureties, albeit there might be a thousand put in or bound, yet can it not by any means be, that the deputies of the council, with a safe conscience, may receive or take them in this man's cause, unto whom there is no faith or credit to be given. Howbeit thus much they will do, upon the fifth day of June next, John Huss shall be brought again unto Constance, and there have free liberty to speak his mind before the council:" and he promised that they would lovingly and gently hear him: but the matter in the end fell out far contrary to this promise.
The same day the said barons and lords presented a supplication of this tenor unto the emperor:
"Unto the most high and mighty prince, the Lord Sigismund, king of the Romans, always Augustus, king of Hungary, Croatia, and Dalmatia, our most gracious lord, faithful and true service in all things, and at all times. Most noble prince and gracious lord, we signify unto your worthiness, that we all, together with one mind, consent, and accord, have delivered up unto the reverend fathers and lords, the deputies of the four nations, and to the whole sacred council of Constance, this our supplication hereunder written, as reasonable, just, and worthy of consideration; the tenor whereof here followeth word by word, and is this."
The copy of the supplication, which was presented unto the deputies of the council, is before written, whereunto this which followeth was annexed:
"Wherefore we most humbly require and desire your princely Majesty, that both for the love of justice, and also of the fame and renown of that most famous kingdom of Bohemia, whereof we acknowledge you undoubtedly the true lord, heir, and successor; and also foreseeing unto the liberty of your safe-conduct, that you will, with your favourable countenance, beholding these most reasonable and just supplications, which we have put up to the lords aforesaid, put to your helping hand toward the said most reverend fathers and lords, that they will effectually hear us in this our most just petition, which we have offered up to them, as is aforesaid; lest that the enemies of the renown and honour of the famous kingdom of Bohemia, and such be our slanderers also, hereafter may detract and slander us, that we should make unreasonable and unlawful requests unto the said reverend fathers and lords; and therefore we required and desired of them, that it would please them to decree by setting to their public hand and seal, to authorize our said publication. Likewise, we do most heartily require your Highness, that you would vouchsafe in like manner to give us your testimony of the premises."
But what answer the emperor made hereunto, we could never understand or know; but by the process of the matter a man may easily judge, that this good emperor was brought and led even unto this point, through the obstinate mischief of the cardinals and bishops, to break and falsify his promise and faith which he had made and promised; and this was their reason whereby he was driven thereunto, that no defence could or might be given either by safe-conduct, or by any other means, unto him which was suspected or judged to be a heretic. But by the epistles and letters of John Huss a man may easily judge what the king's mind was. Now we will proceed in the history.