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memory in 1414 before his departure for Constance, where he, as he knew, would have to face the same calumnies and accusations. Here only some of the accusations can be mentioned. It was stated that Hus had publicly declared that a priest being in a state of mortal sin could not administer validly the venerated sacrament of the body of Christ, nor dispense the other sacraments of the church. The note of Hus ran thus: “ All those who attended my sermons well know that I preached the exact contrary, saying that a bad priest administers the sacrament in the same fashion as a good one, for it is the divine goodness that acts by means of a good or of an evil priest." Shortly afterwards followed another accusation, also referring to the then much discussed question of the validity of the sacraments when administered by unworthy priests. Hus's teaching on this vexed matter was always in accordance with that of the Roman Church. The informer Protiva, author of most of the statements concerning Hus, declared that he had made many of the remarks that were incriminated while preaching at St. Michael's Church. Hus replied that at the time mentioned he had not yet been ordained a priest, and had not yet begun preaching. Another accusation was, that when on the occasion of the drowning of John of Pomuk-an event that occurred ten years previously—the possibility was discussed in the house of Venceslas the cupmaker, that Prague might be placed under interdict, Hus had said that there was no reason why the religious services in the whole kingdom should cease because of one man. The skill of the informer appears here. Hus had actually stated that neither because of the imprisonment or murder of himself or of any other man was it fitting that the whole kingdom of Bohemia should be deprived of the spiritual consolation of the sacraments. Hus was well aware of the terror which the word interdict inspired in the minds of mediæval citizens. He later left Prague voluntarily, to save the citizens from the consequences of the interdict.
It would be wearisome and indeed somewhat sickening to record the various other accusations, all of which, like those already men
tioned, were founded on distorted remarks of Hus. One of the last points is, however, of interest. Hus was accused of having by his preaching caused discord between the Bohemians and the Germans. In reply he declared that he denied this, unless Bohemians and Germans had sought offence from an unjust cause; then it might be true. “Christ,” he continued, “ was the stumbling-block for those who believed not. He (Christ) knows that I love a good German better than a bad Bohemian, even if he be my own brother.” Besides the principal denunciator Protiva, other priests had taken part in the drawing up of these accusations; among them was Michael, surnamed " de causis," whom Professor Tomek describes as a consummate liar. The denunciators were, however, successful. Hus was summoned to appear before the court of the archbishop. Though the proceedings were secret, we may safely conclude that his defence was in accordance with the notes, mentioned above, which he had made in answer to his accusers. When examined, he no doubt, as in the notes, appealed to his congregation with regard to what he had said on the then ever-recurring question of the validity of the sacraments when administered by a priest who was in a state of mortal sin.
However convincing and eloquent Hus's defence may have been, it remained unnoticed as well as unanswered by the archbishop. Zbynek sent to Pope Alexander V. an embassy furnished, as the chroniclers write, with many rich presents. The envoys stated that at Prague, in the whole kingdom of Bohemia, the margraviate of Moravia, and other neighbouring lands, the hearts of many had been corrupted by the heretical " articles " of John Wycliffe and particularly by his teaching with regard to the sacrament. As the shortest and safest remedy for these evils, it was suggested that in these countries preaching should be forbidden everywhere except in cathedral, collegiate, and parish churches, and in those belonging to monasteries. This proposal, aimed principally at Hus's Bethlehem chapel, was made by Dr. George Bor, a canon of the cathedral of Prague, and a strong opponent of churchreform. Matters had proceeded so rapidly that, when the embassy
appeared before Pope Alexander V., that pontiff had, in consequence of the complaint of Hus's adherents previously mentioned, summoned the archbishop before his tribunal. However, Zbynek's submission to Pope Alexander had already produced a complete change. A bull issued on December 20, 1409, annulled the former summons of the archbishop, and instructed him to seek the advice of a council which was to consist of four magisters of theology and two doctors of canon law. After hearing the opinions of these men, the archbishop was to forbid all heretical preaching in virtue of the apostolical powers which the pope conferred on him for that purpose. He was further instructed to forbid preaching in all churches not belonging to the four categories mentioned above and to order all those who might possess copies of Wycliffe's writings to deliver them up that they might be removed “from the sight of the faithful.”
In consequence of the bad conditions of the roads during the wintry weather, the papal bull only reached Prague about March 9, 1410. It gave the archbishop all necessary power, and he did not hesitate to use it. In accordance with the papal bull he appointed six councillors. They were all men strongly opposed to Wycliffe's doctrinal teaching and to church-reform-totally different matters, which it was the archbishop's policy to consider identical. In direct contradiction to the wording of the papal bull, Hus immediately appealed to the pope, stating that he (the pope) had been wrongly informed, as it had not yet been proved that any one in Bohemia had obstinately (i.e., in opposition to the ecclesiastical authorities) defended the teaching of Wycliffe and, as Archbishop Zbynek had himself declared in 1408, that Bohemia was free from heresy. The councillors, undoubtedly formally in the right, ignored this appeal. It soon became known in Prague that their decision would be in accordance with the papal bull, that they would express themselves in favour of the destruction of Wycliffe's writings and of the suppression of preaching in the Bethlehem chapel. The university was, however, still on the side of Hus. At a general meeting on June 15, under the presidency of John Sindler, who had
succeeded Hus as rector, the members of the university protested against the intention of burning Wycliffe's writings and appealed to the king, begging him to forbid this destruction, which would give great offence both to the kingdom and to the university.
Zbynek, now entirely in accordance with the papal see, was not to be deterred by protests of scholars whom as a true mediæval warrior he probably held in great contempt. He took immediate action. On June 16, the day after the meeting of the university, the customary summer convocation of the clergy took place at St. Vitus's cathedral. The papal bull, as well as the result of the deliberations of the theologians consulted by Zbynek, were read to the assembly. The decree of the councillors stated that eighteen of Wycliffe's works, among them the Dialogus and Trialogus, were heretical, and that all who possessed copies of these works were to bring them to the archbishop's palace within six days. Under penalty of the loss of ecclesiastical benefices and of other punishment it was forbidden to maintain or teach the heresies of Wycliffe, particularly those referring to the sacrament of the altar. The archbishop, in agreement with his councillors, further declared that he would in case of need appeal to the secular authority of King Venceslas, and finally reiterated the injunction not to preach in churches other than those belonging to the categories that have already been mentioned.
This step was a fateful one-one of which Zbynek assuredly did not see the importance. All hope of a pacific reformation of the Bohemian Church on the lines indicated by Waldhauser and Milic ended here. The views expressed by Milic and Matthew of Janov differed but little from those of Hus, but the latter, inflamed with holy enthusiasm for the welfare of mankind and imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, was not a man prepared to meekly retract words which he believed to have uttered in accordance with a divine command. He rejected blind obedience when it appeared to him that the authority of the church was used in an unlawful manner, prejudicial to the true interest of the church
itself. It was not indeed the defence of Wycliffe's doctrines that appeared to Hus to have the greatest importance. What in Wycliffe's works could be authoritatively declared heretical he was ready to reject, though there was much in the teaching of the English divine that attracted him. But the prohibition of preaching in chapels involved a cessation of all attempts to reform the terribly demoralised clergy of Prague. In chapels only and in the Bethlehem chapel in particular free speech could be said to exist. The prohibition also put a term to all attempts on the part of Hus and his disciples to reach the lowly population of the city by preaching to them in a popular manner and in a language understood by all. Hus considered the prohibition as an indefensible attack on the freedom of God's word and as a deed opposed to Christ's own law. This appeared to him a matter in which it was his duty to obey God rather than man.1
It was in accordance with these views that Hus preached at the Bethlehem chapel on June 22. Popular excitement was at its height and the crowd was immense. He declared that the recently deceased pope (the news of the death of Alexander V. had just reached Prague) had stated that there were in Bohemia many heretics, that is to say, men who obstinately opposed the teaching of Christ as contained in Scripture. This untruthful statement had been believed by the pope on the authority of Bohemian priests. Hus then referred to the intention of burning Wycliffe's works. These works, he contended, did not contain heretical statements only, but also much that was good. He further declared that he would appeal to the new pope against the archbishop's decree, and asked his congregation whether they would stand by him. All present cried: “We will stand by you." Hus concluded by declaring that he would not cease to preach even should he be driven from the land or perish in prison. He entreated the faithful to be steadfast, for the time might come when it would be necessary, according to the words of Moses, to gird on the sword and defend the word of God.
i Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, vol. iii. p. 481.