94. JOHN HUSS CONDEMNED BY POPE ALXANDER V.
In the time of this Alexander great stir began in the country of Bohemia, by the occasion of the books of John Wickliff, which, then coming to the hands of John Huss, and of others, both men and women, especially of the lay-sort, and artificers, began there to do much good; insomuch that divers of them, not only men, but women also, partly by the reading of their books translated into their tongue, partly by the setting forward of John Huss, a notable learned man, and a singular preacher at that time in the university of Prague, were in short time so ripe in judgment, and prompt in the Scriptures, that they began to move questions, yea, and to reason with the priests, touching matters of the Holy Scriptures.
By reason whereof complaint was brought to the said Pope Alexander the Fifth, who caused eftsoons the aforenamed John Huss to be cited up to Rome: but when he came not at the pope's citation, then the said Pope Alexander addressed his letters to the archbishop of Swinco, wherein he straitly charged him to prohibit and forbid, by the authority apostolical, all manner of preachings or sermons to be made to the people, but only in cathedral churches, or colleges, or parish churches, or in monasteries, or else in their churchyards; and that the articles of Wickliff should in no case, of any person, of what state, condition, or degree soever, be suffered to be holden, taught, or defended, either privily or apertly; commanding, moreover, and charging the said archbishop, that he, with four bachelors of divinity, and two doctors of the canon law joined unto him, would proceed upon the same, and so provide that no person in churches, schools, or any other place,should teach, defend, or approve any of the aforesaid articles, so that whosoever should attempt the contrary, should be accounted a heretic, and, unless he shall revoke solemnly and publicly the said articles, and shall for ever abjure the books wherein the aforesaid articles be contained, so that they may be utterly abolished out from the eyes of the faithful, the same should be apprehended and imprisoned, all appellation set apart, the help also of the secular arm being called thereunto, if need shall require, &c. These were the contents of this mighty and fierce bull of Pope Alexander.
Against the which bull, on the other side, John Huss, justly complaining, excepteth again, and objecteth many things: he declareth this mandate of the pope to stand directly against the doings and sayings both of Christ and of his apostles; considering how Christ himself preached to the people, both in the sea, in the desert, in fields, in houses, in synagogues, in villages; and the apostles also, in all places, did the same, the Lord mightily working with them. He declared, moreover, the said mandate or bull of the pope to redound unto the great detriment of the church, in binding the word of God, that it might not have his free passage; also, the same to be prejudicial unto chapels newly erected for the word of God to be preached in them: "Wherefore," saith he, "from this commandment or mandate of Pope Alexander, I did appeal unto the said Alexander, being better informed and advised; and, as I was prosecuting my appeal, the lord pope," saith John Huss, "immediately died."
Then the archbishop of Swinco aforesaid, to whom this present bull was directed, when he saw the process, bulls, and mandates of the bishop of Rome to be thus contemned of John Huss and his fellows, neither having any hope of redress in Winceslaus the king, which seemed to neglect the matter, went out of his country into Hungary, to complain unto Sigismund, king of Hungary, and brother to the said Winceslaus. But this quarrelling archbishop, whether before, as the Bohemians say, or after, as Silvius saith, that he had spoken with Sigismund, immediately there, by the just judgment of God, died in Hungary, as the story saith, for sorrow; whereby a little more liberty and quiet was given by the Lord unto his gospel, newly beginning to take root among the Bohemians. Albeit, this tranquillity there did not long continue without trouble and persecution, neither could it in those furious days and reign of antichrist; for after this Alexander succeeded Pope John the Twenty-third, who, likewise playing his part in this tragedy, bent all his might and main to disturb the Bohemians, as more hereafter, Christ willing, shall be declared in further process of our history, coming to the year of our Lord 1413.