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of the indulgences, and saying that he was himself the cause of the opposition to the indulgences. If therefore anything was to be done to them for this, let it be rather done to him, for he was the first cause of it. The councillors, after having conferred together answered him and the other masters who were with him, saying that nothing would be done to them (i.e., the three young men); therefore should they with their following go home and all disperse to their dwelling-places. Then Master Hus, thinking that nothing would befall the young men, went with a cheerful mind with all his followers to the Bethlehem chapel; and after they had escorted him home, they retired each one to his dwelling-place. A large crowd had assembled on the market-place, waiting to see what would happen, and what would be the end of the matter; for in the morning the town-criers had been told to call on all rich and poor to assemble on the market-place. Now, however, the order was given that all should leave the market-place and return to their dwelling-places. And when almost all the people had dispersed, the councillors ordered the judge and the executioners to lead them (the young men) aside and behead them. And with them came many soldiers in mail from the town hall—for at that moment all the councillors were Germans, the armed men also were Germans, and among others present were many German citizens --and when they had securely surrounded them, they ordered them to be beheaded, to the great displeasure of the mailed soldiers. They did not lead them to the place of execution, but to a spot in front of the house of John Celny; 1 there they beheaded them. And immediately a pious woman threw three linen cloths over the bodies to cover them. Then Master John of Jicin, with a large crowd of magisters, bachelors, students and common people assembled, but unarmed and peacefully. They took up the bodies and carried them to the Bethleheni chapel without asking permission of the magistrates nor telling them where they were taking the bodies. And the master (John of Jicin) with a loud voice
1 At the corner of the present Zelezna ulice (Iron Street) at the northern extremity of the market-place.
intoned the anthem, Isti Sunt Sancti,” which is sung of the holy martyrs, and all joining with loud voices in the singing they bravely and joyfully carried the bodies to Bethlehem, while all the mailed soldiers and councillors looked on. Many students also, common people, lords and ladies, followed the bodies with much crying and lament, but with great piety, and while accompanying them to their graves they heartily pitied the young men, saying they had not deserved to die.”
Hus acted with great moderation during these events. His innate belief in the goodness of human nature, which had led him to hope that even a man such as Pope John XXIII, would do him justice were he but informed of the noble motives by which the Bohemian reformer was inspired, had also led him to believe the word of the German councillors of the old town of Prague. He continued to maintain this attitude of moderation even after the judicial murder of the three young men.
It is difficult to describe otherwise the deed of the magistrates of Prague. During the brawls on July 10, violence had been used on both sides. The three young men were only accused of having noisily interrupted sermons; on the other hand, when in the church of St. Jacob, part of the congregation had protested against the sale of indulgences, choir-boys and young monks had rushed into the church from the adjoining monastery and had driven some of the faithful into the common-room, where they were cruelly flogged. On Sunday, July 17, Hus preached as usual at Bethlehem, but made no allusion to the events of the past week. His somewhat ignoble adversaries, the rich parish priests of Prague, declared that he had been intimidated by the immediate severe punishment that had been inflicted on the three young men. The motives of Hus were very different. He knew that a large number of soldiers had been gathered together in the town, and though he had always cherished loyal feelings toward Venceslas, he was too well acquainted with him not to know to what sudden movements of fury he was subject. An order of the king could, on
1 These words belong to the first antiphone of the second vesper in the Commune plurium martyrum of the Roman breviary (Dr. Lechler).
the slightest provocation on the part of the citizens, cause a terribly murderous struggle in the streets, the responsibility for which Hus could not, and would not assume. One word of Hus from the Bethlehem pulpit would have brought on such a desperate struggle, particularly as many Germans and Romanists were still in the city. Through Hus's silence such a catastrophe was averted. The Praguers also, following the example of their leader, behaved on this occasion with studious moderation. They indeed declared themselves ready to accept death as the three young men had done, but no attack was made on the German soldiery. We meet with this moderation on the part of the citizens of Prague generally during the earlier part of the Hussite struggle. If after the ruthless and treacherous execution of their revered leader they became revengeful and cruel, those only are entitled to blame them who practise truly the precept: “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
Thanks mainly to the energy of the notorious Michael de causis the proceedings at the papal courts had meanwhile come to an end.
In August, 1412, a papal bull, published under the authority of Hus's new judge, Cardinal Peter of St. Angelo, reached Prague. It proclaimed the aggravation (aggravatio) of the sentence of excommunication which Cardinal Colonna had previously pronounced against Hus. The ban was to be proclaimed publicly, and all the faithful were forbidden to give him food or drink or to speak to him; then followed all the habitual clauses of a mediæval bull of excommunication. Hus's reply was a step for which he has been frequently blamed, particularly perhaps by those who did not bear sufficiently in mind the spirit of the times in which Hus lived. He appealed from the sentence of the Roman pontiff to Jesus Christ, the supreme judge. In an age when positive and undisputed belief in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity was universal, the direct intervention of Divinity in the affairs of mankind met with no disbelief. It will be remembered—to quote but one example—that the citizens of Florence at one time placed
1 Appelatio M. Joannis Hus a sententiis pontificis Romani ad Jesum Christum supremum judicem (printed by Palacky, Documenta, pp. 464-466).
their city under the direct temporal government of Jesus Christ. The arguments employed by Hus in his appeal were simple. He stated that it was not from obstinacy that he had refused to go to the papal court, that his first representatives there had been imprisoned, and that the other ones had been refused audience and accused of heresy without being allowed to defend themselves. The enemies of Hus do not appear to have considered their victory over Hus at the papal courts as sufficiently complete. Again, through the influence of Michael de causis, a second bull appeared which commanded all the faithful to seize Hus by force and deliver him over to the Archbishop of Prague or the Bishop of Litomysl, who were to condemn him and have him burnt. The bull also decreed that the Bethlehem chapel, “ a nest of heretics," should be destroyed and levelled to the ground. The indefatigable Michael also suggested that King Venceslas and his most prominent councillors and courtiers should be excommunicated. Pope John XXIII., however, declined to accede to this proposal. The diavolo cardinale was ready to proceed to any lengths against a pious and powerless priest, but he could not afford to quarrel with King Venceslas. The partisans of Gregory XII. were at that moment gaining ground, and the support of the King of Bohemia might become of great importance to the pope. These measures directed against Hus were followed by measures against the city of Prague. The interdict was again proclaimed, and it was now carried out thoroughly with all the accompanying horrors that terrified the mediæval mind. All masses and sermons, all religious functions, even burial with the Christian rites were prohibited. The sacrament of extreme unction was not administered to the dying; none could confess, or receive communion. A troop of German fanatics attacked the Bethlehem chapel, while Hus was preaching there, but the determined though pacific attitude of the congregation intimidated them and they retired. Somewhat later—on October 1,Romanist citizens, led by the parish priest, Bernard Chotek, again attacked the chapel, but were repulsed by the friends and adherents of Hus, who were keeping watch.
The merciless execution of the interdict at Prague greatly
troubled the mind of Hus, whose conduct was always guided by his conscience. He was in doubt whether he should leave the city or remain there. He has himself described his hesitation in a very striking manner in several of his books. “To me also,” he writes,
it happened that some advised me to preach when there was an outcry against the brethren (of the Bethlehem chapel), when they were outlawed and their religious services were stopped; others again advised me not to preach. But I understood that both advised me with a good intention, and I was not certain as to which counsel would agree with God's will.” Closely connected with the question whether his duty permitted Hus to continue preaching was the question whether he should stay in Prague or leave that city-as he eventually did. This decision is next to his resolution to proceed to the Council of Constance, the most momentous one in his life. It is interesting to study the motives of his decision rather in his own writings than in the comments of others. We find in the works of Hus an important passage 1 that deals with this question. Hus here, as so frequently, refers to the writings of St. Augustine, one of the fathers of the church to whom he had devoted much study. Hus writes: “Note that St. Augustine asks this question: As the apostles were good shepherds and not hirelings, why did they fly when it was attempted to kill them? But they acted according to the word of Christ, who said: When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.3 And Bishop Honoratus put the same question, when writing to St. Augustine and asking him what he should do when men were attempting his destruction. ‘Behold,' he said, 'the gospel of Christ: when they persecute you in this city flee ye into another. And Christ also said: “He that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and fleeth.” How then shall I act that I may fulfil this word of Christ, and yet not fly like a hireling?' And in answer to this question St. Augustine wrote for him a whole book in which he examines the
Postilla, xxv. p. 165 of Dr. Flajshans's edition. I have somewhat abridged Hus's statements. · St. John X. II-12.
St. Matthew x. 23.