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delightful, but that he very much doubted whether any of the Bohemian priests would suffer death for the truth. He preferred, he said, a faith which would allow him to go safely anywhere. This mean letter, as Mr. Wratislaw rightly calls it, was no doubt the result of the great physical fear which Palec had felt when detained at Bologna. This does not, however, excuse the animosity and rancour with which he pursued those whose lofty thoughts raised them to a height to which his mean and cowardly nature could not attain. All personal relations between Hus and Palec ceased at this period, and Hus expressed his opinion in the oftenquoted words: “ Palec is my friend, truth is my friend; both being friends, it is saintly to give preference to truth."
Archbishop Zbynek was far too shrewd a man to think that supporters such as Protiva, Palec, and Michael, surnamed de causis, a German priest of evil repute, notorious as an enemy of Hus, would avail him in his struggle with Venceslas. He knew that he had in the king a dangerous enemy. Venceslas was deeply impressed by the dangerously great power of the clergy, in whose hands a third part of the soil of Bohemia then was. Zbynek therefore decided to make his peace with the king. Though there is hardly sufficient evidence to allow a positive affirmation, it is at least very probable that the astute diavolo cardinale advised Zbynek in this sense. Jodocus of Moravia had died very shortly after his election as king. There therefore remained as claimants to the throne only the brothers Venceslas and Sigismund. John XXIII. could not risk offending either of these princes before he had silenced the popes Gregory and Benedict-a thing he hoped shortly to do. Through the mediation of Rudolph, Duke of Saxony, and with the assent of several foreign dignitaries who were then in Prague, it was agreed that the whole dispute between Hus and the archbishop should be settled by arbitration. The king was himself to act as arbitrator, and was to have as his assistants Duke Rudolph of Saxony, Stibor Count of Transylvania, who was then at Prague, and Lacek of Kravar, formerly master of ceremonies to Venceslas, but now acting as his representative ("margrave '') in Moravia.
Both parties accepted this agreement, which practically conferred on Venceslas unlimited power to act as arbitrator. Hus thought it well that the university should be consulted on the matter, and that body gave its full assent, stipulating only that the king's decision alone should be absolute, in case the appointed councillors should have left Prague before judgment had been given. At the same time, the archbishop assembled numerous prelates in his palace in the Mala Strana 1 and informed them that he had accepted the arbitration of the king. Venceslas acted with great prudence in this matter. Besides the coadjutors who had already been appointed, he consulted also several other dignitaries, both laymen and priests. The result of their deliberations was, on July 6, 1411, formulated in an agreement which under more favourable circumstances might have restored to Bohemia the peace which that country so urgently required. It was decided that the archbishop should submit to the king as his lord and then become reconciled to him. He was also to write to the pope stating that he knew of no heresies in the Bohemian kingdom, but only of dissensions between himself and Hus, a matter regarding which the king was endeavouring to mediate. The archbishop was also to beg the pope to absolve those against whom he had pronounced the sentence of excommunication, and Zbynek was himself to absolve those on whom he had pronounced that sentence and also to revoke the interdict on the city of Prague. Both parties were to desist from the lawsuits which they had begun at the papal courts, and recall their representatives there. The king was to take counsel of the bishops, doctors, prelates, temporal princes, nobles, and squires a concerning the existence of heresies or vices among either laymen or priests, and eventually on the advice of his spiritual and temporal councillors to extirpate and punish such offences. The revenues and annuities which had been taken from the priests were to be returned to them, and those priests who had been imprisoned were to be
1 The "small quarter " of Prague, situated on the left bank of the Vltava (Moldau) river. * In Bohemian, zeman." The
may be described as a member of the lesser nobility or country gentry.
released. All the rights and privileges previously possessed by the clergy, the university, the lords and squires were guaranteed to them, and it was stipulated that the church should not attempt to encroach on the temporal power. It was finally declared by the archbishop that he had believed that the municipalities had on their own authority, and not by order of the king, seized church property. Having now been informed of the contrary, he wished to raise no further complaints against the citizens.
This sensible and business-like document, which certainly contained the germ of a permanent agreement, has been little noticed by historians. It is scarcely uncharitable to suggest that this silence is due to the blind disparagement of King Venceslas which we find in all the works of Roman Catholic writers as well as in those of some German Protestants. The statement contained in this document that it was the duty of the rulers to suppress vices and heresies foreshadows the Hussite period, where we find similar enactments in the Articles of Prague, the compacts, and elsewhere. At the time when the agreement mentioned above was drawn up, it was also settled that Archbishop Zbynek should send to Pope John XXIII. a letter interceding for Hus. A draft of such a letter was actually drawn up, but the letter was never sent. This caused renewed bitterness. The archbishop appeared to act in a halfhearted manner, and Venceslas, impatient by nature, soon again became incensed against the ecclesiastical dignitaries of Bohemia. Hus meanwhile, relying on his firm conviction that he had spoken and written nothing contrary to the true Catholic faith, again wrote to Pope John. He again affirmed that he was a true Catholic and denied ever having stated that the material substance of bread remained in the sacrament after communion or having said that a priest in the state of mortal sin could not administer the sacraments validly. These accusations had been frequently raised by Palec and Michael de causis, who believed or pretended to believe that if they proved that any book of Wycliffe which Hus admitted to have read contained a statement contrary to the teaching of the church, this
1 Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, vol. iii. pp. 494-495.
was a sufficient proof that Hus himself was a heretic. Hus read this letter to the assembled members of the university, who entirely approved of it, and it was decided that as a token of this approbation the seal of the university should be affixed to the letter. It is probable that about this time Venceslas also wrote to Pope John XXIII. again praising Hus and interceding for him.
The hope for a peaceful settlement disappeared almost as rapidly as it had arisen. The archbishop soon considered that he had new causes to complain of the king and his courtiers. It cannot be denied that Venceslas was during his whole life hostile to the higher clergy of Bohemia, though his attitude towards Hus proves that he honoured and respected a pious and virtuous priest. Zybnek complained that some of the royal courtiers had interfered with his archiepiscopal rights and demanded an audience to bring his grievances before the king. On his refusal Zbynek again declared that he was no longer safe at Prague, and left the city only a few weeks after the agreement had been made. The archbishop first proceeded to Litomysl, the residence of John, surnamed the "iron," bishop of the city. The iron bishop was known as a bitter enemy of King Venceslas and a notorious simonist. He was naturally and from selfish reasons a strong opponent of church-reform. The iron bishop played a considerable part in the life of Hus. It was at his instigation that the wealthy Bohemian priests at the time of Hus's departure for Constance collected a large sum of money to procure evidence against him. Hus always believed that the Bishop of Litomysl, with the spies and informers who were in his pay, contributed largely to his condemnation at Constance. In the Hussite wars the iron bishop became notorious through his excessive cruelty and, as the Hussite leaders were but too ready to follow his example, the Bishop of Litomysl bears no slight responsibility for the cruelty and bitterness, exceptional even among religious wars, which marks the warfare between the Bohemians and the so-called crusaders. The counsels of the iron bishop were not, therefore, likely to have a conciliatory effect on Zbynek. He addressed from Litomysl a letter to King Venceslas containing many complaints,
of which some were perhaps justified, many certainly unfounded. He also stated that he was going to visit King Sigismund of Hungary, the treacherous younger brother of Venceslas, and even threatened to induce Sigismund, who always coveted his brother's kingdom, to invade Bohemia. These plots or threats were not destined to lead to any result. Archbishop Zbynek died at Presburg on September 28, 1411, while on his way to Sigismund's court. Thus Archbishop Zbynek, a man who had ascended the archiepiscopal throne of Prague with the best intentions, ended his life almost as a traitor to his country and his king. A man of little intelligence and less learning, he was in spite of his good qualities quite unfitted for the position in which he was placed at a most difficult moment. Hus, mindful of his good intentions and of the kindness once shown to him by Zbynek, expressed great sorrow when he heard of the archbishop's death.
Zbynek's death was followed by a brief moment of calm, preceding the storm, greater than all former ones, that was shortly to break out. Only one incident belonging to this period is recorded by the contemporary chroniclers, and has ever since found its way into all works dealing with Hus, though it had little influence on the main current of the events. Shortly after Zbynek had left Prague two English envoys arrived there also on their way to Hungary, where they had a diplomatic mission. These men were Sir Hartung van Clux, one of the most trusted councillors of Henry IV. and of his son, and John Stokes, licentiate of Cambridge. The object of their mission was to conclude an alliance between England and Sigismund, King of Hungary. The news of the arrival of the Englishmen soon reached the hospitable citizens of Prague and the Englishmen were invited to a banquet by the rector of the university. Sir Hartung, probably aware of the theological strife then raging at the university, politely declined the invitation, but when John Stokes, evidently a novice in matters of diplomacy,
1 The un-English name of this English agent has puzzled many writers. Sir Hartung Clux was of Flemish origin, and a trusted agent of King Henry IV. and Henry V. The latter conferred on him the Order of the Garter. (See Lenz, König Sigismund und Heinrich V. von England, pp. 31–37.)