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long standing. Denying this, the letter declares that Charles IV., according to his charter of foundation, had wished it mainly to benefit his Bohemian subjects. If the Bohemians were at first inferior to the Germans in learning, and were indeed as slaves, they now have, with God's help, become stronger and superior to the Germans in all arts and sciences. Let, therefore, those who had formerly been advantaged at the expense of the true owners of the land give way to them, and let these true owners rule the university for all centuries.
The authorship of this very important document has often been attributed to Hus, but it is more probable that it was the work of his disciple, Master John of Jesenice. The question is of little importance, as the document clearly and circumstantially expresses the views of the whole national party. Important as this statepaper was in any case, it became yet more so in consequence of the events that followed almost immediately.
After the publication of the decree of Kutna Hora all work at the university stopped. It became impossible to elect a rector, and constant conflicts between Bohemians and Germans occurred. The stern command of the king to elect a rector remained unheeded by the Germans, and when the royal decree referred to above was brought to their knowledge, they immediately determined to carry out their threats. Some of the most important German masters had already entered into negotiations with German princes, such as the Landgrave of Thuringia and the Margrave of Meissen, with regard to their eventual emigration to Germany. These negotiations, however, took up some time, and it was only on May 16 that a large number of German magisters and students left Prague for Leipzig. Including servants and menials, they are stated to have numbered about 2000 men. They arrived at Leipzig about the end of May, and there founded a new university, of which, according to some records, the former rector of the University of Prague, Henning of Baltenhagen, according to others, John of Münsterberg, became the first rector. The former German students of Prague never forgave the injury which they had, according to their views,
suffered. They became bitter enemies of Bohemia and of churchreform, and firm adherents of the Roman cause. The Polish students did not take part in the exodus, but remained in Prague with their comrades of the kindred Bohemian nationality.
The departure of the German students from Prague has given rise to a very bitter and prolonged controversy that even now can scarcely be considered as terminated. Writers such as Höfler and Helfert, whose works appeared at a time when the Austrian government was under the influence of extreme ultramontane and Teutonic tendencies, naturally sympathised with the German masters and students who held similar views four centuries previously. Baron Helfert, a distinguished conservative statesman, wrote with dignity and moderation. As much cannot be said of Professor Höfler, who everywhere, and here in particular, overwhelms Hus and the Hussites with an incoherent torrent of vituperation. Höfler repeats the ancient accusation against Hus of having endeavoured to expel the Germans from the university. Even before Hus's views had been shown more clearly by the remarks contained in one of his recently re-discovered works, it was obvious to all impartial minds that this was untrue.? Of the modern Bohemian writers Palacky was by the Austrian authorities only allowed towards the close of his life to express his real views 3 with regard to Hus and the Hussites and the exodus of the German students in particular. Very important, in connection with the departure of the German students from Prague, is the account of that event given by Professor Tomek in his monumental history of the town of Prague (Dejepis mesta Prahy), a work that has unfortunately never been translated.
To judge the question impartially it is necessary to consider the circumstances under which Charles IV. founded the University of Prague. I have given a brief account of them in Chapter III.
1 The Supra IV. Sententiarum. See above.
* The matter is stated very clearly by Mr. Krummel in his Geschichte der Böhmischen Reformation, p. 207. Mr. Krummel, though a German, writes of Hus entirely without animus.
3 See my Lectures on the Historians of Bohemia, pp. 95-96.
of this work. There is no doubt that Charles founded the university mainly for the benefit of his Bohemian subjects, that they might, as he expressly stated, find at home the instruction which they had formerly been obliged to seek abroad. It is not probable that the question of race and nationality immediately became prominent. In a community, all whose members habitually used the Latin language, there is indeed no reason why this should have been the case. There is also no doubt, and the state-paper of Venceslas admits this, that the Bohemians were at the time of the foundation of the university somewhat backward and inferior in learning to the Germans. This inferiority has, however, been exaggerated by many writers. Thus, as mentioned previously, a large number of the earliest teachers at the university were Bohemians who had received their education at foreign universities. Other facts, also such as the contemporary writings of Thomas of Stitny, tend to prove that the ignorance of the Bohemians at this period has been exaggerated. In any case, enough is known of the character of Charles, a believer in the solidarity of the Slavic countries, "panslavism,” as it has often been foolishly called,1 to state with full asurance that he had no intention of founding a Teutonic university. Charles no doubt believed that many students from the neighbouring kingdom of Poland would visit the new university. These visits, however, almost ceased after the foundation of the University of Cracow. Other changes also occurred. Universities were founded in Germany, at Vienna, Heidelberg, and Erfurt. The number of German students at Prague decreased largely in consequence, but their influence continued as great as ever. This was due to the system of voting by "nations," which was not indeed a fundamental law of the university, but had been gradually and tacitly accepted. While the Germans became fewer in number, the Bohemian students became more numerous every year. The university had many benefices in its gift, a matter of the highest
1 I am quite aware of the fact that many German writers have denied that Charles had such a tendency. These writers have not, I think, disproved the assertions of Palacky.
importance to the many penniless students of theology who frequented it. These benefices were of course bestowed in accordance with the system of vote by nations that prevailed in all matters concerning the university. The Bohemians were, therefore, generally excluded from livings situated in their own country and often endowed by their countrymen. It has often been stated that the analogy between the University of Prague and that of Paris established by the decree of Venceslas is false, as in Paris the four nations were the French, Normans, Picards, and English. On further reflection it, however, appears that the analogy is strikingly true. Though under different names the French, Norman, and Picard nations together represented the national indigenous element which possessed three votes, the foreigners, that is to say the members of the English nation, which included Germans, Bohemians, and others, had one.
German writers have also enlarged on the material loss which the town of Prague suffered from the departure of German students. Such reflections prove an entire misconception of the feelings of the citizens of Prague at this stormy period. The native population of the city was inflamed by the most ardent religious and national enthusiasm, and was prepared to suffer and venture everything for a cause which it believed to be sacred. The citizens indeed proved this a few years later by their splendid defence of the capital when it was attacked by an army of so-called crusaders, gathered together from all parts of Europe. It must also be stated that the continued residence of German students in Prague would at this period, in any case, have proved an impossibility. Over-bearing as German students have shown themselves in that city, not only in the fifteenth century, their presence would have led to constant conflicts. Even the German citizens were somewhat later obliged to leave Prague, as the Praguers not unnaturally feared the presence of enemies in their camp. There was at that period of excitement no room within the walls of Prague for upholders of German supremacy and of the extreme claims of the Roman hierarchy.
As regards the university, it cannot be truthfully said that it lost its importance by becoming a national one. Indeed it became, as will be mentioned later, after the death of Hus, for a time the supreme authority in Bohemia on matters of religion, as most of the higher members of the Bohemian clergy were opposed to the cause of church-reform. The downfall of the University of Prague belongs to a far later period, that which followed the battle of the Bila Hora (White Mountain).