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and when, during the long contest about investitures, the rulers of Bohemia sided with the German emperors, all relations between Rome and Bohemja ceased for a considerable time.
The beginning of the thirteenth century is noteworthy as being the moment when a great change took place. Henceforth the power of the Roman Church incessantly increases. In Bohemia, as elsewhere, that church endeavoured to introduce obligatory celibacy among the clergy, and this demand appeared particularly arbitrary to the Bohemians who had first received Christianity from the Eastern Church. Their priests had hitherto almost all been married men, who were attached by family ties to the other members of the community. Thus Cosmas the chronicler, the earliest of Bohemian historians, though a canon of Prague, dedicated his great historical work to the memory of his wife, Bozetecha. In Bohemia, as elsewhere, it became part of the papal policy to establish—by enforcing the celibacy of the clergy–a caste apart from the laity, and subject only to the will of Rome. These attempts met with strong opposition on the part of the Bohemian priests. Thus we read ? that in 1197 the papal legate, Peter of Capua, who demanded that those who were to be ordained should take the vow of chastity, was nearly killed by the indignant priests. In the course of the thirteenth century, however, celibacy gradually became general among the Bohemian clergy.
Henceforth it may be also stated that the Roman pontiffs interfered more frequently in the internal organisation of the Bohemian Church. "Letters of immunity," which released monasteries from the jurisdiction of the bishops, are very often met with, and they greatly strengthened the Roman influence in the country. Gradually and cautiously the popes also introduced
For Cosmas, see my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 42-46, and particularly Lectures on the Historians of Bohemia, pp. 6-14.
2" Anno Dominicae Incarnationis MCXCVII dominus Petrus diaconus cardinalis ad Sanctam Mariam a Via Lata venit in Bohemiam . et ordines clericorum per manum domini Engelberti Olomucensis episcopi fieri precepit. In quibus ipse cardinalis a sacerdotibus plebanis ob votum castitatis quod ab ordinandis exigebatur versis in seditionem fere fuerat occisus." (Chronicle of Jarloch Fontes Rerum Bohemicarum, ii. p. 512.)
into Bohemia the practice of granting “provisions " on bishoprics and abbeys, thus rendering illusory the right of the chapters to elect the bishops and abbots. These “provisions” became very frequent during the rule of the avaricious Pope John XXII., and still more so during that of Clement VI., who appointed two of his nephews, William and Nicholas Roget, to canonries at the Cathedral at Prague. As Dr. Krofta writes in his study, to which I have already referred, the Cathedral of Prague was so charged with papal “provisions” that it had become almost impossible to obtain a benefice there except by virtue of such a provision. The discontent which such an abuse naturally caused was aggravated by the fact that its profits fell almost exclusively into the hands of foreigners—friends either of the papal see or of the Bohemian court. That court at a period when the Bohemian kings were often German or Roman emperors frequently had an antinational character. Of the native priests, also, generally those who were supported by Rome or the Bohemian court succeeded in obtaining benefices,
Of the Bohemian clergy as constituted in accordance with this new system it is impossible to speak otherwise than in terms of the severest reprobation. It was a general complaint that the priests neglected the duties of their office; many, indeed, entirely absented themselves, though they continued to draw the revenues of their benefices. Almost all the priests were accused of avarice and simony-an offence that had become so general that Hus devoted to it one of his best-known treatises. The pious Ernest of Pardubice, first Archbishop of Prague, was obliged to complain in one of his provincial statutes that many priests refused to celebrate burial and marriage services, to hear confessions, to administer the sacraments of communion and extreme unction, and indeed to perform any ecclesiastical functions except on payment of money. The regulations certainly forbade such payments, and declared that the penalty was to be deprivation of the benefice should the priest himself commit the offence, or imprisonment if the culprit was the vicar, or any other person acting for the
priest. The enactments of the pious archbishop unfortunately proved ineffectual, and the abuses mentioned above continued and even increased up to the time of Hus. Ineffectual also were the repeated enactments which forbade priests to frequent taverns, to hunt, to wear laymen's clothes, and to carry arms. The gravest and most serious grievance, however, and the one to which Hus and his forerunners constantly refer, was the appalling immorality of the clergy. The Latin reports on the archdeaconal inspection held in Prague, in 1379 and 1380, present a most repulsive picture. It is stated that of the thirty-two parish priests of Prague sixteen were notorious because of their evil life, and much evidence of a most shocking character was produced by other priests and by inhabitants of the streets adjoining the parsonages. This inspection did not include the higher dignitaries of the church, but we find numerous and unfavourable reports on their conduct in contemporary records.2 A large number of these dignitaries lived in open concubinage. Thus we read that Stephen, canon of Prague, chief writer of Bohemia, had several sons whom he openly recognised. One of these, “John, son of master Stephen, chief writer of the kingdom of Bohemia," was, under this designation, entered in the register of the University of Prague. The canon
1 Though it is by no means pleasant to deal with these accusations, founded though they are on official statements of the ecclesiastical authorities, it is necessary to allude to them, as the intense hatred and contempt of the Roman priests, which was general among the Bohemians of the time of Hus, would otherwise appear inexplicable. Professor Tomek (in vol. iii. of his Dejepis mesta Prahy–History of the Town of Prague) has quoted largely from the report mentioned above. It should be stated that the late Professor Tomek was a strong conservative and a firm adherent of the Church of Rome. No one deserves less to be suspected of exaggeration. The report states (Tomek, iii. p. 242): Item (Bartholomew, vicar of the Tyn church) dicit quod ipse interdum sed raro habet unam publicam meretricem per noctem, sed occulte et ipsam in crastino repellit.” (Ibid. p. 243), Item dicit (Prokop, vicar of St. Leonard's church) quod plebanus S. Johannis in Vado est meretricator et fornicator publicus.” (Ibid. p. 247), " Andreas presbyter vicarius Ecclesiae St. Stephen dicit quod monachi monasterii S. Mariae Carmelitae transeunt per scolas publice in civitate Pragensi volentes scire experimenta, et quod dicunt se esse medicos, et sic decipiunt mulieres, conjugatas et honestas ipsas impraegnando.” I must refer the reader to Prof. Tomek's book for further details on the report of the archdeaconal inspection.
2 Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, pp. 245-246.
of Vysehrad, John Pecnik, a teacher (scholasticus), had several daughters whom he recognised, and one of whom he married to a tailor. These cases seem to differ somewhat from those mentioned previously, and it is difficult not to believe that the celibacy of the clergy was in the pre-Hussite period less firmly established in Bohemia than most writers have stated. It is certain that after the death of Hus the marriages of priests immediately became general and met with little or no opposition. Unfortunately, cases of gross and coarse immorality were also frequent among the dignitaries of the Bohemian Church. Thus the rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist at Prague complained that in the house of John of Landstein, provost of Melnik,“ the porter and portress gave shelter to disorderly women, for the provost and his brothers, Vitek and Litold, and that monks, married men, and people of all sorts were admitted there."
The impression produced on pious men by such conduct, which appeared to them not only as a sin and scandal but also as a sacrilege, cannot be exaggerated. Though the reading of Scripture was discouraged, the Bible was in the hands of many pious men. They felt certain that so sinful a world would perish shortly. Thence sprang the constant reference to the appearance of Antichrist, with which we meet not only in the writings of Hus, but also in those of his forerunners and successors.
There were thus many reasons why the general opposition to papacy caused by the schism and the coarse and even blasphemous polemics which accompanied it was stronger in Bohemia than elsewhere, and had in that country more permanent and more weighty results.
THE FORERUNNERS OF HUS
BEFORE referring to the writers and preachers whom almost all historians, both Catholic and Protestant, have described as the forerunners of Hus, it is necessary to notice a theory concerning the origin of Hussitism that has recently found great favour, particularly in Germany. The great rancour and disparagement with which recent German authors, both Protestant and Catholic, have written of Hus, is founded on the fact that a part, and a very important part, of his career has only recently become widely known. I allude to the fact that Hus was, during his whole life, a firm defender and leader of the Bohemians in their struggle for national independence, and therefore a consistent opponent of the Germans who, at the time of Hus, had obtained almost exclusive possession of all, and particularly of the ecclesiastical, offices in Bohemia. As the racial struggle rages in Bohemia at the present day with the same fury as it did five centuries ago, and as the evil habit of using the events of the past as examples and arguments applicable to the political events of the present is very prevalent there, Hus has been hated by many recent writers, not because he was a church-reformer, but because he was an ardent Bohemian patriot.
It has constantly been affirmed by the writers of this school that Hus was an uneducated peasant-priest, a national fanatic, a mere copier of the writings of Wycliffe. These views are maintained by many writers whose ephemeral works, intended for the purpose of flattering the vanity of the Germans, require no notice. But one of the most eminent German scholars of the present day, Professor Loserth, has also expressed similar opinions, and they have not remained without an echo in recent English works. In his important work, Hus and Wiclif, Professor Loserth has strongly