Obrázky na stránke

activity also consisted in his endeavour to introduce into the - churches the singing by laymen of hymns in the national language.

The fact that the movement in favour of church-reform, which had in England found expression in the writings of Wycliffe, found in Bohemia a particularly fruitful soil, was a consequence of the condition and past history of the country. Bohemia had first received the Christian teaching from Greek monks of Salonika, and even after it began to form part of the Western Church, Roman institutions penetrated into the country gradually and slowly. Thus the celibacy of the clergy was introduced into Bohemia later than into most countries, and it seems probable—though this is a most controversial matter—that communion in the two kinds continued to be customary there up to a late period, perhaps up to the beginning of the fifteenth century. It also requires mention that, in consequence of its geographical position, Bohemia for long time suffered less from the extortions of the Roman pontiffs than many other countries. Only when, in consequence of the schism, the rival popes found that the number of countries from which they could derive funds was diminishing, the claims of Rome on Bohemia became more urgent and more frequent. The discontent caused by the rapacity of the rival pontiffs, whose violent controversies did not raise the Western Church in the esteem of the Bohemian people, found a centre in the University of Prague. Under the influence of this university, a school of theologians sprung up who are known as the forerunners of Hus. These writers long remained almost unknown, and it is only since the revival of Bohemian literature in the nineteenth century that their works have again begun to attract attention. Even now much work has to be done and many MSS. remain unprinted; still it can already be stated that recent research has thrown much new light on Hus and the Hussite movement. I have in this work endeavoured to give a resumé of the studies of modern Bohemian writers on this movement. These works, mostly written in the national language, have by no means received hitherto the attention which they well deserve.

It may be here stated that these writings prove clearly the existence in Bohemia of a strong national movement in favour of church-reform, which depended by no means entirely on foreign influences. As Dr. Kybal recently wrote in his valuable work on Matthew of Janov, the greatest of the forerunners of Hus: “The view that Hussitism is merely artificially fostered Wycliffism appears to me logically and historically as nonsense.". It would be invidious to attribute to racial antagonism the recent attempts of German writers to depreciate the importance of Hus. Yet it is certain that the German writers, who recently have extolled Wycliffe at the expense of Hus, have attributed to the English divine greater originality and greater depth of thought than is generally attributed to him by his countrymen.

I have under the heading “ Bibliography "given a large though by no means complete list of the authorities which I have consulted, and specially drawn attention to the writings of the modern Bohemian historians, on whose labours this work is mainly based. I wish to express my particular thanks to Dean Müller of Herrnhut, who has kindly forwarded me a photograph of the portrait of Hus --reproduced here—which has been preserved by the community of Herrnhut.

1 Dr. Kybal uses the English word nonsense.”






HOSTILITY to the Church of Rome is almost as ancient as the prosperity of that church. The fabled " donation of Constantine," the subject of the lamentations of Dante and so many other mediæval writers, certainly denotes a landmark in the history of the church. The suffering early church has, in the Christian martyrs, given to humanity some of its noblest types, and the comparison of Hus to these sufferers frequently recurs in the writings of the Bohemians. When Constantine granted to the church, not indeed sovereign power, but great authority and riches, a very sudden change took place. The contrast between the martyrs of the year 313 and the wealthy and worldly prelates who, under imperial presidency, discussed matters of dogma at Nicæa in 325 is very great. Henceforth the power and influence of the church constantly increase and the conception of the priest as an individual who, by virtue of his office, is superior to the layman, becomes more and more widely spread. As in many cases the life of the layman was simpler, more moral, more virtuous than that of the priest, this assumption caused great animosity against the clergy. Claims such as that of receiving communion more frequently, and of partaking of the sacrament in the two kinds—a favour not granted to laymen—were constantly brought forward by the priests, particularly in Bohemia. These pretensions, indeed, played a very great part in the Bohemian movement

« PredošláPokračovať »