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in what he considered the internal affairs of his country. Gerson was by no means deterred from further attempts to obtrude his unwelcome advice. He addressed another letter to the Archbishop of Prague, in which he laid great stress on the fact that it was rather by fire and sword than by argument that the prevalent heresies should be extirpated.2 Gerson sent with this letter a list of heretical statements which, as he said, had been made by Hus. We again find among them the wearisome falsehood that Hus had said that the sacraments were invalid when administered by an unworthy priest. These bitter letters, written some time before the meeting of the Council of Constance, render Gerson's intransigent attitude at that assembly less surprising. The voice of Gerson did not remain isolated. Thus Simon, Cardinal of Rheims, addressed a letter to Archbishop Conrad in which he also begged him to extirpate heresy in his diocese.3 The evil fame of Bohemia as a country where heretics dwelt now began to spread, and was indeed scarcely extinct among the uneducated in Austria before the beginning of the nineteenth century. We find an early proof of this animosity when we read that Bohemian students were attacked as being" heretics” at the then newly-founded University of Vienna. A letter of Magister Michael Malenic, rector of the University of Prague, in which he complains to the authorities of the Vienna University of the ill-treatment of Bohemian scholars, has been preserved.4
The movements of Hus are at this period very uncertain, but there is little doubt that he paid another short visit to Prague in April 1414. He appears not to have stayed there long. The letters of Gerson, who as chancellor of the famed University of Paris and friend of the French royal family was greatly esteemed, made Hus's position in Prague even more difficult than it had been before, and they may also have impressed for a time King Venceslas.
1 Palacky, Documenta.
?" Videtur autem parvitati meae quod contra hunc errorem exsurgere deberet omnis dominatio tam spiritualis quam temporalis ad exterminationem magis igne et gladio quam curiosa ratiocinatione." 3 Palacky, Documenta.
He was at heart always a friend of Hus, but greatly feared his treacherous younger brother Sigismund, through whose intrigues he had at the beginning of his reign twice been imprisoned by his own subjects. Utterly faithless and unscrupulous as was Sigismund, he was as ready to employ the accusation of heresy as any other for the purpose of injuring his brother. Hus, in whose character his deep gratitude for the often unstable support of his king must be noted as a somewhat touching feature, decided again to leave Prague. He did not, however, return to Kozi Hradek, but accepted the invitation of Lord Henry Lefl of Lazan to make his temporary home at Krakovec, one of Lord Henry's many castles. Krakovec, near the small town of Rakonic in Western Bohemia, was, very conveniently for Hus, situated much nearer to the capital than Kozi Hradek. The career of Henry of Lazan is very interesting as being typical of that of many Bohemian nobles of his time. He had met Hus at the court of King Venceslas and had, like so many others, been fascinated by the manner and the enthusiasm of the young Bohemian priest. Lazan was one of those who, when Hus was illegally imprisoned at Constance, demanded most energetically that King Sigismund should release him. Yet he, some time after the execution of Hus, joined the forces of Sigismund, whom, after the death of King Venceslas, he considered his legitimate sovereign. He fell fighting against his country at the battle of the Vysehrad, 1 and before dying received communion in the two kinds according to the custom of his own Bohemian Church, Perhaps among no class of men have these conflicts of contradictory duties been so frequent and so painful as among the nobles of Bohemia. At Krakovec, as at Kozi Hradek, Hus worked assiduously at the numerous and important books that belong to this period of his life. He also continued preaching to the people, who again flocked to his sermons, even from great distances. Hus was in constant touch with the court of King Venceslas, and it is probable that he was about this time informed of the plan of
See Chapter XII. • Lawrence of Brezova, p. 440 of Dr. Goll's edition. See also Dr. Flajshans, Mistr Jan Hus, p. 348.
convoking a general council of the church, and of the possibility that he might be summoned to defend his opinions there. The innate goodness of Hus always led him to disbelieve in evil, unless confronted by its dire reality. He believed that the proceedings of the council would be somewhat similar to those of the “disputations " in which he had so often taken part in Prague. He did not think that the council would proceed almost exactly on the lines of the trials instituted by the inquisition, that he would merely be summoned to recant all statements attributed to him by his enemies—whether he had ever made them or not-and that in case of his refusal he would be delivered over to the civic authorities to suffer death at the stake.
Meanwhile the negotiations between Venceslas's treacherous brother Sigismund and Pope John XXIII., which were to lead to the meeting of the council at Constance, had already begun. The diavolo cardinale was strongly opposed to a general council of the church, and particularly to one held outside the frontiers of Italy. He still had in that country a large military force by means of which he could, should a council meet in Italy, exercise over it the same dictatorial power which he had previously exercised at Pisa and Rome. On the other hand, the pope was obliged to consider the wishes of King Sigismund, for the two rival popes still had many adherents. Another difficulty that confronted the pope was that, even at that unscrupulous and unspeakably corrupt period, his evil life caused much scandal. At the recent" private council," if we may call it so, Baldassare Cossa was said to have stopped on their way to Rome and ordered back all prelates whom he believed to be hostile to his cause. Sigismund, whose help against his old enemy, the King of Naples, Cossa then desired, was intent on furthering the meeting of a general council of the church, which was to assemble under his control in an imperial free city. He rightly thought that nothing would contribute more to the restoration of the somewhat faded prestige of the empire. The fact that war was then about to break out between England and France also made the moment appear a favourable one for reviving the glories
of the Holy Roman Empire. It is probable that to the humble priest John of Husinec Sigismund also assigned a part in his farreaching plans. Sigismund, always well informed on matters concerning Bohemia, knew that Venceslas had to a great extent regained his popularity in that country. His vices, in consequence of the influence of the pious Queen Sophia, were less prominent. He was decidedly popular with the townsmen and on good terms with a large part of the nobility. Sigismund knew that he could not now, acting as a bandit, seize and imprison his brother, as had been possible formerly. Sigismund had, as he mentioned at Constance, followed the career of Hus from its beginning. He did not doubt that the pious, simple-minded priest, whose actions were entirely governed by his conscience, would consider it his duty to appear at the council. Still less did he doubt that it would be possible to prevent Hus's return to his native country. This, at least, he was from the first determined to prevent. Sigismund believed—wrongly, as events proved,--that Hussitism, Hus once removed, would have a brief and precarious existence. The king knew that both Venceslas and Queen Sophia were already suspected of heresy. Should they be convicted of it, Sigismund could, as defender of the Roman faith, conquer Bohemia and free himself of his detested brother. The English students of the life of Hus have generally first met with Sigismund when he entered the cathedral of Constance on Christmas Day, 1414. His earlier record, his actions in Poland and Hungary, tainted as they are with perfidy and treachery of every description, are less known.1
The two men, who, not to the honour of humanity, were then the rulers of the Christian world, had some difficulty in agreeing as to the locality and the date of the council. When the papal envoys, Cardinals Antony of Challant and Francis Zabarella, who were accompanied by the Greek scholar Chrysolaras, visited Sigismund at Como in October 1413, they used all their eloquence
1 Those who do not feel inclined to wade through the contemporary Polish and Hungarian chronicles, written in mediæval Latin, will find a good account of the early life of Sigismund in Aschbach's Geschichte Kaiser Sigmunds.
to persuade him to consent to the meeting of the council on Italian soil. Sigismund had, however, already decided that the council should meet at Constance, and not to lose time, he published a decree 1 dated October 31, 1413, in which he stated that the papal envoys had in the name of the Pope John XXIII, and with the approval of King Sigismund convoked a general council of the church that was to meet at Constance on November 1, 1414. Cossa was still reluctant, but at a meeting with Sigismund at Cremona at Christmas, 1413, he gave his definitive consent, and even promised to be present at the council. The meeting at Cremona has retained some celebrity because of the alleged intention of Gabrino Fondolo, tyrant of Cremona, to throw the spiritual and secular rulers of the world from the summit of a high tower to which he had conducted them.
Sigismund employed his great energy in endeavouring to induce all countries to send their representatives to the council. France was secretly ill disposed to the meeting of the council, and indeed to Sigismund who, abandoning the traditional policy of the House of Luxemberg, which was favourable to France, was then engaged in negotiations with England. The popular feeling was, however, at that time so strongly in favour of a council that, largely in consequence of the intercession of the University of Paris, the rulers of France decided to send representatives to Constance. England was favourable to the council. It was no doubt in consequence of the reaction against Wycliffe's teaching that the English representatives assumed what would now be called an ultramontane attitude at Constance. In every part of Europe the coming council was awaited with great anxiety. In view of the hopeless condition of the church ruled by men such as Cossa, it was hoped and believed that a council inspired by the Holy Ghost would re-establish union in the church and also—what appeared almost more importantcheck the unspeakable corruption of the priesthood. From the sources we possess it does not appear very clearly when the negotiations to induce Hus to attend the council began. As one who was
1 Palacky, Documenta, pp. 515-518.