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The effect of this sermon was very great, as may be imagined. The popular excitement did not escape the observation of King Venceslas, whose natural shrewdness made him a good judge of the feelings of the people of Prague, which he knew so well. The king strongly urged the archbishop to delay all further steps, and at last obtained his promise to do so, at least up to the time when the king's cousin, Margrave Jodocus of Moravia, should arrive in Prague. Jodocus had the reputation of being a man of moderate and enlightened views, and it was known that Hus had sent him a copy of his translation of Wycliffe's Trialogus. It was hoped that he would act as mediator. Hus employed this brief delay for the purpose of preparing the appeal which he now sent to Pope John XXIII. He protested against the bull of Alexander based on untrue statements made from personal motives by Bohemian ecclesiastics. He also protested against the intended burning of Wycliffe's works, many of which were treatises on philosophy, logic, and other matters not connected with theology. He also claimed for the university the right of reading Wycliffe's other works, as they had, according to the regulations, to read also the works of Aristotle, Averroes, and other “heathens whose works teemed with heresies.” Almost at the same moment the archbishop addressed to the " diavolo cardinale," now Pope John XXIII., a letter in which he denounced Hus as the originator of all troubles in Bohemia and as a defender of Wycliffe's. Zbynek then alluded to the sermon of Hus at the Bethlehem chapel on June 22, and begged the pope to order him to appear for judgment before the papal court.
Meanwhile the archbishop, as Margrave Jodocus did not arrive, determined to act without further delay. On July 16 he assembled the prelates and principal ecclesiastical dignitaries in the court of his palace, which was barricaded and guarded by a considerable armed force. A stake was erected in the middle of the court, and Wycliffe's books were placed on it. The archbishop then himself lighted the pile, and all present sang the Te Deum while the books were burning
King Venceslas was on that day absent from Prague; he would otherwise undoubtedly have opposed by force the work of the archbishop. Zbynek himself appears to have felt that he had taken on himself a grave responsibility. Not feeling safe in Prague, he left the city immediately after the burning of the books, and retired to his castle of Roudnice. He there pronounced the sentence of excommunication against Hus. The fears of Zbynek were not altogether unfounded. There had sprung up among the people of Prague an intense hatred of the archbishop and the clergyparticularly the parish priests, whose evil life caused much unhappiness among the citizens. The situation at Prague at this moment is quaintly and strikingly described by a contemporary chronicler. After stating that in the year 1410 the books of Master John Wycliffe the Englishman were burnt in the courtyard of the archbishop's palace, the author writes: “Then a great storm arose and much strife between the king's courtiers and the canons and priests. Songs against the archbishop were sung everywhere in Prague. There was at that time much discord between the canons and Master John of Husinec. Some said that many other books besides those of Wycliffe had been burnt, and thus the people became enraged. Some took the part of the canons and some that of Hus. Henceforth there was great discord among the people. The choir boys who lived on the castle (the Hradcany) waylaid all passers-by who adhered to Hus, and when they saw one they seized him, dragged him into the common room, stripped him, and whipped him unmercifully with birch-rods." This passage is curious also as showing that it was not only by the partisans of Hus that excesses were committed-as has been frequently stated.
The latter were, however, generally stronger, and they prevented in most churches the publication of the sentence excommunicating Hus. As the chronicle quoted above relates, songs on the events of the day, mostly abusive of the archbishop, whose great ignorance was greatly exaggerated, were sung everywhere. One of these songs
Stari Letopisove cesti (Ancient Bohemian Chroniclers), edited by Palacky, iii. pp. 12-13.
seems to have been very popular and obtained great popularity. It alluded to Zbynek's want of learning and ran thus:
Zbynek, bishop A. B. C.
Venceslas did his best to maintain order in his capital. He severely prohibited rioting in the streets and the singing of abusive songs. He also, with great fairness, requested the archbishop to indemnify those whose books had been seized and burnt. As a protest against the destruction of the writings of Wycliffe, Hus and his adherents, according to the academic customs of the time, held a great disputation in the large hall of the Carolinum college. The disputation, in which various speakers were to defend works of Wycliffe, began on July 27. Hus himself on that day spoke in defence of Wycliffe's book, De Trinitate. Hus's treatise, De Libris Haereticorum Legendis, written about this time, covers almost exactly the same ground, and we find in it the contents of Hus's speech. Hus in it strongly blamed the burning of Wycliffe's writings. These works at any rate contained much that was good, and their destruction had brought discord and trouble into the country. Even should these books have contained heretical opinions, they should not have been burnt. Otherwise might they have burnt also the work of Peter Lombard-to whom, as we know, Hus owed so much-or those of Aristotle. If, he continued, the doctors said that none should inquire but all should submit-a theory that has
1 I quote this good though not literal translation from the late Rev. A. H. Wratislaw's John Hus, p. 141. The words are in the Bohemian original, “Zbynek, biskup Abeceda spalil knihy a neveda co jest v nich napsano. Professor Höfler, who had a very slight acquaintance with the Bohemian language, quoted the song from Cochlaeus's Latin history of the Hussite wars, where some distorted and meaningless words are supposed to render the Bohemian wording. These words Höfler thus translated into German: “ Der Saumagen hat das Schöne verbrannt”-i.e., " The pig burnt beautiful things.” These words have not even the remotest resemblance to the meaning of the song, and Höfler merely intended to impute coarse language to the Bohemians. The matter is fully noticed by Dr. Nedoma in the Journal of the Bohemian Learned Society (Vestnik spolecnosti nauk), February 23, 1891. I allude to the matter here, as even recent English writers do not appear to have known how untrustworthy Höfler often was.
a strangely modern aspect—then they were worse than Jews and Pharisees. Christ conversed with the heretical Sadducees. Hus ended by declaring that he would not submit to the prohibition of preaching and that he would undauntedly face all dangers which might result from such a course. On the following days, up to the 31st, the disputations continued, and several of Hus's principal adherents spoke in defence of various writings of Wycliffe.
Preaching at the Bethlehem chapel continued meanwhile. As the king had been informed that Hus had appealed to the pope, he ignored the excommunication pronounced by the archbishop and continued to extend his protection to Hus. When shortly afterwards Antony de Monte Catino arrived at Prague to announce officially the accession to the papal throne of Pope John XXIII., King Venceslas and Queen Sophia availed themselves of this occasion to enter into communication with the pope concerning the state of affairs in Bohemia. King Venceslas addressed one and Queen Sophia two letters to the pope, and each of the royal consorts wrote also to the college of the cardinals. Queen Sophia undoubtedly had the question of the freedom of preaching very much at heart. In her first letter to the pope she strongly protested against the decree " which, contrary to the precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ, forbids the preaching of the word of God, except in monasteries and parish churches," and begged that
the Bethlehem chapel, which we consider most useful to us and the inhabitants of our kingdom for hearing the word of God, may not be deprived of its privilege.” In her letter to the cardinals the queen again returns to the same subject, and declares that the decree limiting preaching to monasteries and parish churches, published under the influence of those who were opposed to evangelical teaching, was contrary to Scripture, as it was well known that the word of God must not be fettered, but should be preached in hamlets, streets, houses, and indeed everywhere where the necessity arises." The influence of Hus is very evident
1 The five letters, all dated September 12 or 16, 1410, are printed by Palacky, Documenta, pp. 409-413.
in the letter mentioned last, and it gives a clue to the fact that shortly after the death of Hus the council of Constance decided to accuse Queen Sophia of heresy.1 Venceslas on this occasion certainly acted in accordance with the feelings of the Bohemian people, if we except the baser part of the clergy, who believed that free preaching was favourable to church-reform--the thing which from selfish motives they detested more than all others. Thus Lord Lacek of Kravar, a high court official, and Nicholas of Potstyn, Lord of Zampach, wrote to Pope John protesting strongly against all attempts to limit the liberty of preaching. The town councils of the cities of Prague also added their protest. The prohibition of preaching in the Bethlehem chapel, they wrote, and the burning of Wycliffe's writings had caused hatred, quarrels, incen rism, and murder among the citizens, who had with constant faith professed entirely the Catholic creed. The citizens of the old town did not omit to mention that they had vested interests in the matter, as the appointment of one of the two preachers in the Bethlehem chapel was in the gift of their town council.”
It is difficult to imagine the impression which these letters may have produced on Baldassare Cossa. He probably thought that the men of the north took matters of slight importance very seriously. Though no one who knows the absolute recklessness with which the theologians of the period of the schism levelled even the most monstrous accusations against their opponents will believe all that was said against the diavolo cardinale at Constance, yet it is not unfair to believe that he held no very firm opinions on matters of religion. The letters from Bohemia would, however, in any case have remained resultless. Before receiving them the pope, who was then residing at Bologna, had already entrusted all
1 Referring to these letters of Queen Sophia and others that will be men. tioned later, Baron Helfert, a firm adherent of the Roman Church in his
Hus und Hieronymus,” violently attacks Queen Sophia and the interference of women in politics generally. I have given a short account of this diatribe in my Bohemia, a Historical Sketch, p. 129, n. Baron Helfert is undoubtedly right in stating that Hussitism owed much to women.
2 The letters of the nobles and citizens are printed by Palacky, Documenta, pp. 413-415.