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against Ladislas, King of Apulia, and his accomplices be commended to the faithful in Christ? "i The meeting was somewhat stormy, and several among the theologians, though not entirely approving of the sale of indulgences as it was carried on in Prague, yet declared that they would not oppose the papal decree. Stanislas of Znoymo and Stephen Palec spoke in favour of blind submission to all decisions of the pope. Hus spoke quietly and firmly; he relied mainly on biblical quotations, and maintained that Christ alone, not priests, could forgive sins. On the same side as Hus spoke also Master Jerome of Prague, who did not, however, follow the example of moderation given by Hus. His speech, perhaps for that reason, obtained greater applause from the young students, who accompanied him back to his dwelling amidst great enthusiasm. The moderation displayed by Hus during the discussion on indulgences—a subject on which almost every one will at the present day admit that he was right—is all the more worthy of praise because almost at the same time the papal court had definitively and irrevocably declared itself hostile to his views. The parish priests, always, as has been frequently noted, bitter enemies of church-reform and of Hus in particular, thinking that the ne archbishop was too lenient, again appealed to the pope. In the course of the year 1412 they sent to the papal court two further documents 2 containing the complaints against Hus that have already been enumerated. They added, however, to their old grievances one new one, stating that Hus had blamed the pope's action in granting indulgences and remittance of sins to those who took part in the warfare against “ Ladislas, King of Apulia, and Angelus Correr, who with sacrilegious daring calls himself Gregory XII.” Together with Hus some of his principal disciples were denounced in these letters. The parish priests were this time more successful than they had been in their former attacks on Hus.
· The words of the Latin original ran_thus: “Utrum secundum legem Jesu Christi licet et expedit pro honore Dei, et salute populi Christiani et pro commodo regni bullas papae de erectione crucis contra Ladislaum regem Apuliae et suos complices Christi fidelibus approbare,”
Palacky, Documenta, pp. 457-461,
They had secured a wily and utterly unscrupulous agent at the papal court. This was one Michael, a German of Nemecky Brod (Deutschbrod), some time parish priest at St. Adalbertus's in Prague.' Michael was afterwards by Pope John XXIII. appointed advocate in matters of faith (procurator de causis fidei), and was therefore generally known as “ Michael de causis." His reputation was of the worst. Neglecting his parish duties, he endeavoured to obtain money by good or bad means. He offered King Venceslas to improve the working of the royal mines at Jilov, but absconded with the money that had been entrusted to him. He fled to the pope and gained a living by acting as advocate at the papal lawcourts. Through the influence of the astute Michael, Cardinal Brancaccio was deprived of the direction of the Bohemian affairs that had recently been entrusted to him. His successor, Cardinal Peter of St. Angelo, acted entirely according to the wishes of the Bohemian enemies of church-reform. The representatives of Hus at the papal court were declared to be heretics; some were imprisoned, while others succeeded in escaping to Prague. The cause of Hus at the papal courts was definitively lost and a decisive condemnatory judgment against him was being prepared. Momentous events, however, occurred in Prague before the judgment became known there.
The attempt to establish at Prague the safe of indulgences in a manner that was particularly repulsive to the citizens had produced a state of feverish excitement. The Germans and Romanist partisans declared that they would burn the Bethlehem chapel and murder all heretics. Among the friends of church-reform the more frivolous and unreflecting men were led astray and organised demonstrations that must have been very painful to the truly pious mind of Hus. Jerome was still in Prague, and Hus, perhaps better acquainted with his eloquence and learning than with his many faults, did not attempt to exercise sufficient restraint over him. therefore, undoubtedly with the connivance of Jerome that one of King Venceslas's favourite courtiers, Lord Vok of Waldstein,
• Dr. Flajshans, Mistr Jan Hus, p. 285.
· See p. 132.
organised a grotesque procession of which all sober-minded citizens disapproved. It is probable that King Venceslas, who was not at Prague on the day the procession took place, was utterly unaware of the intended folly of his courtier, but when after the death of Hus and the movement of universal fury which the news of it caused in Bohemia, the Council of Constance wished to attack the King of Bohemia, he was accused of complicity. It is certain that on June 24 a very strange procession left the Mala Strana and paraded the streets. In an open carriage stood a young student in the attire of a prostitute. He had round his neck and arms silver bells which rang continuously, and in front of him was placed a large sheet of paper to which were attached leaden seals, giving it the appearance of a papal bull. Behind the carriage followed a crowd of students led by Waldstein. As is always the case on such occasions in large towns, a vast and noisy crowd joined the procession. Many carried sticks and even swords. The procession wended its way through the streets of the old town and the marketplace to the new town, where it stopped at the present Karlovo namesti (Charles's Square). Here the documents imitating papal bulls were placed under an improvised gallows and burnt amidst loud applause of the crowd. The foolish freak was obviously intended as a parody of the burning of Wycliffe's works by the archbishop. This recalling of the destruction of the writings of Wycliffe contributed to increase the public excitement. The opposition to the sale of indulgences increased, and those who had invested money in the sale naturally complained bitterly of their financial loss. Some of the theologians of the university, who may have been among the losers, accused Hus of having spread heretical statements derived from Wycliffe's works. These theologians wished to avoid all discussions on the subjects on which Hus
1 This is stated in the acts of accusation against the King and Queen of Bohemia (Palacky, Documenta, pp. 638-642). These acts contain many untruthful statements.
2 We must reduce to this amount of truth the statement of the council that Waldstein had led a large procession through the streets of Prague publicis meretricibus praeconibus.
generally spoke, such as the scandalous sale of indulgences, the immorality of the clergy, the universal prevalence of simony, and to engage him in another abstruse discussion of some obscure passages in Wycliffe's works. The always well-meaning king again endeavoured to mediate. He had for some time been residing at his castle of Zebrak, and he now summoned there Hus and the leaders of the Roman party at the university. At Zebrak Hus again maintained that his teaching was in accordance with the true Catholic faith, and declared that he was ready to die for his opinions. On the ultramontane members of the university being asked if they also were prepared to face a similar fate, they at first declined, but finally stated that one of their number was prepared to do so. What followed does not appear very clearly from the contemporary accounts. An ordeal such as that which was held in the case of Savonarola may have been suggested. The meeting broke up without any result, and when Hus and the scholars opposed to him left the castle, the royal courtiers more kindly than wisely advised them “to reconcile themselves nicely.” On Sunday, July 10, the theologians of the university were again invited to Zebrak by the king, and they for the third time presented to him articles concerning Wycliffe's doctrine. Among those present were representatives of the towns of Prague and several royal councillors and courtiers. We have no contemporary account of this assembly
-no doubt because the writers believed that the events at Prague on the same day rendered it very unimportant.
The king had with regrettable leniency condoned Lord Vok of Waldstein's participation in the procession through the streets of Prague and had continued to consider him as a favourite. He had, however, in agreement with the town authorities of Prague, published a decree which threatened with the death penalty all who should take part in riots in the streets of the capital. Compared to the almost exaggerated leniency that had hitherto been the rule, this decree was certainly very severe. On Sunday, July 10, the vendors of indulgences who had lately suffered considerable losses, encouraged by the royal decree, when preaching in several
churches, strongly advised their congregations to add to the fund which Pope John was raising for his Neapolitan campaign. They were, of course, not scrupulous in their enumeration of the advantages which the faithful would thus obtain. Public opinion was already so intensely excited and irritated by the traffic in indulgences that troubles broke out in several churches. In the cathedral of St. Vitus, the Tyn church, and that of St. Jacob part of the congregation protested against what it considered a glorification of simony. In each of these three churches a young man who was supposed to be the ringleader was arrested and brought to the town hall of the old city. Through the vicissitudes of municipal politics, into which I cannot enter here, the German, or, as we may call it, the ultramontane party, had at that moment the upper hand in the councils of the old town. The members of this party saw that the government of their city was slipping away from them, and they determined to intimidate the people by a vigorous action. Here again it may be interesting to read the words of a contemporary writer. After mentioning the imprisonment of the three youths, the chronicler writes: 1 "Here I could tell much of what happened the day before these men were beheaded. It was on a Monday (that they were beheaded) and the Sunday before they were arrested during the preaching. . . . But I must shorten my account. I was present on that Monday; it was about the third hour, and it was already rumoured that these three men had been imprisoned because of the indulgences; and the news reached Magister Hus. Then Magister Hus with many other masters and students went to the town hall begging the councillors that they would allow him (Hus) to appear before them, for that he wished to talked with them; and thus they allowed him with some other masters to appear before them. The other masters remained before the town hall with their students, of whom there might be about two thousand. Meanwhile, Master Hus spoke to the councillors, begging them to do no harm to the three because
1 Ancient Bohemian Chroniclers, vol. iii. pp. 16–18. It is often very difficult to translate into English the rugged Bohemian original.