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By this time Hus's enemies had begun to assemble at Constance. Friends, except his few Bohemian comrades, he could not expect to find there, and although he put trust in the faithless Sigismund, the fact that he undertook the journey proves how entirely he submitted himself to the behests of his conscience and to the decrees of providence. Some days before Hus, the famed pontiff John XXIII. had arrived at Constance. He left Bologna at the beginning of October and made his way to Constance through the Tirol. At Trent he had an important interview with Duke Frederick of Austria, then ruler of the Tirol. An unwritten alliance between the house of Habsburg and the papal see has, with brief intervals, existed since the time of Rudolph of Habsburg. The duke and the pope, therefore, soon came to an agreement. John XXIII. conferred on Frederick the title of gonfalonier of the holy church with an annual salary of 6000 ducats. Frederick, on the other hand, recognised the claims of John to the papacy, promised to escort him to Constance with an armed force, and to afford him a refuge in his dominions--which marched with those of the city of Constance if he should not feel safe there. These negotiations begun at Trent were concluded at Meran. In agreeing to this alliance Frederick was guided not only by the hope of pecuniary advantage, but also by his bitter hatred of Sigismund, which sprang from a cause equally discreditable to both princes."
From the Tirol the pope crossed by the Arlberg Pass into Vorarlberg. Richenthal, that very entertaining, though very mendacious chronicler of the council, thus describes the pope's journey: 2
When the pope arrived at the summit of the Arlberg near where the monastery is, his carriage overturned and he lay in the snow under the carriage. Then his lords and courtiers came to him and
1 During the festivities that by Frederick's order took place at Innsbruck in honour of Sigismund, a young girl, the daughter of a notable citizen, was violated, and public opinion pointed to one of the two princes as having been guilty of the deed. Both Sigismund and Frederick affirmed their innocence, each maintaining that the other was the culprit. Mortal enmity arose between the two princes in consequence. The whole story is told by Eberhard Windeck, c. 32.
• Ulrich von Richenthal, Chronik des Constanzer Concils, ed. 1882, p. 25.
said: ‘Holy Father, hast thou not been injured!' He answered, • I lie here in the name of the devil!' Then when they proceeded onward from the monastery and could look down on Bluditz (probably Bludenz) and the land, he said: Sic capiuntur vulpes, which means, ‘Thus are foxes entrapped.'” The pope and his party then proceeded to Feldkirch and from there by Reinegg to Constance, where the pope was received with great solemnity.
It was not, however, Baldassare Cossa who was to prove Hus's most dangerous and bitterest enemy. These were found among his own countrymen. It is the fact that in all the most important moments the task of great Bohemians has been frustrated by the envy and malice of their own countrymen that renders the history of Bohemia one of the saddest in the annals of the world. Foremost among Hus's enemies was John the iron, Bishop of Litomysl. It is not probable that he was greatly interested in Wycliffe's profound but arid doctrines. Like most of Hus's Bohemian opponents, he had probably read none of the English reformer's works. But as a notorious simonist and a very opulent man, he saw the great danger which men of his class would necessarily incur, if the praise of poverty and the laudation of the simplicity of the primitive church were permitted. Though a very rich man—he had even attempted to outbid Albik when the latter obtained the archbishopric of Prague-John the iron did not think his own ample means sufficient to crush the detested Hus. He therefore applied to the higher ecclesiastical dignitaries of Bohemia and Moravia, to the parish priests of Prague, who had a great personal interest in the matter, and to several nobles who were opposed to churchreform, asking them for financial aid. By means of this subscription a very large sum of money was raised; the services of many informers were secured; Hus was surrounded by spies as soon as he arrived at Constance. Among the early arrivals at Constance also was Venceslas Tiem, Dean of Passau, whose trade in indulgences in Prague had caused the outbreak of the crisis. No doubt also with a desire for revenge several members of the new university of Leipzig attended the council, wishing to denounce Hus, through
whose influence, as they believed, they had been unjustly driven from Prague. Michael de causis, as mentioned, had arrived at Constance before Hus. Stephen Palec, who was to take so prominent a part in the proceedings against Hus, now also arrived there. Mladenovic writes: “Stephen Palec arrived at Constance. He had travelled from Bohemia with Magister Stanislas of Znoymo, but the latter had been struck down by apoplexy at Jindrichuv Hradec (Neuhaus) and had died. Here (at Constance) Palec immediately associated with Michael de causis, the 'instigator,'1 and an enemy of Hus. They wrote down some articles against Magister Hus which, they said, they had derived from the treatise De Ecclesia. Stephen, with the said Michael, ran hither and thither 2 among the principal cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and other prelates, and we saw him do this almost daily. He there accused Magister Hus and instigated them at least to arrest him. Then he associated with the friars, showed them the articles already mentioned and others, and he especially stirred up against Hus the older and more learned men, showing them other accusations, of which I obtained a copy from one of them.” Mladenovic then gives some personal details concerning Palec and Michael de causis. He states that the former had been a friend of Hus and that the latter-as has been already mentioned-had been obliged to fly from Bohemia because he had embezzled money confided to him for the working of gold-mines.
As soon has Hus had arrived at Constance two of his protectors and companions, Lord Henry of Chlum and Lord John of Duba, had visited Pope John XXIII., who lived in the palace of the bishop not far from the dwelling-place of Hus. They announced Hus's arrival to the pope, who assured them that he would allow no one to molest him and that he would be perfectly safe at Constance, even should he have killed his own brother. To the diavolo cardinale Hus probably appeared as a harmless enthusiast, and he
· Palacky adds as an explanation the Bohemian word nabadac. The French word agent-provocateur perhaps best conveys the meaning intended.
may have considered it politic to befriend the Bohemian noblemen in view of his possibly being involved in a conflict with Sigismund. During the short period of freedom which was granted to Hus at Constance he led the life of a recluse, hardly ever leaving his dwelling. As had been his custom during his journey and also when living as an exile in Bohemia, he said mass daily in strictest privacy. It was only from his little window that he watched the gay life of the city of Constance, which for a time had become the intellectual and political, and, to a certain extent, even the social capital of the world. He watched the cardinals on richly-caparisoned horses, followed by numerous attendants as they rode through the neighbouring Schnetz gate. He cannot have been entirely unaware of the terrible immorality which the presence of numerous rich and unscrupulous men caused in the city-so great, as the citizens said, that it would require a century to purge Constance from sin, A man of ascetic and, if we may call it so, puritanic mind, Hus looked on all this with displeasure, and he must have felt strangely isolated in the city. The house in which he lived was constantly watched by numerous spies, who were in the pay of the Bishop of Litomysl. Bishop John was incessantly demanding that Hus should be immediately arrested. Like most of King Venceslas's enemies in Bohemia, he was no doubt on good terms with Sigismund, and knew how difficult it would be for him to sanction the arrest of Hus at Constance if he were himself in the city. The spies and informers, therefore, redoubled their activity. When a hay cart was seen before the house of Hus, the spies immediately reported that Hus intended to escape hidden in it. The tale, which, as we know from Mladenovic, was immediately circulated by Michael and Palec, is found also in the chronicle of Richenthal, that somewhat frivolous writer, who was more interested in enumerating the gains of butchers, fishmongers, and others practising less respectable professions than in studying the serious events connected with the council. It has also been conjectured that Richenthal here confused Hus with Jerome of Prague, who actually made a successful attempt to escape secretly from Constance. It should be
mentioned that few serious historians have alluded to Richenthal's tale. A firm adherent of the Roman Church, Baron Helfert, in his interesting work, Hus und Hieronymus, rejects the story as decidedly as do all the other writers who have considered it worth mention. Like niany other falsehoods, however, this one also served its purpose. We cannot, of course, fathom the true motives of the members of the council, but Bishop John's men could not have found a better pretext for obtaining that which they desired the immediate imprisonment of Hus. That event can best be told in the words of Mladenovic. He writes: “Then shortly after St. Catherine's day, the cardinals who were then at Constance, on November 28, instigated by his (Hus's) enemies, Palec and Michael, sent two bishops, those of Augsburg and Trent, the burgomaster of the city of Constance, and one Hans von Poden, a soldier, to his dwelling-place. They arrived at the hour of dinner and told Lord John of Chlum that they had come on the part of the cardinals and by order of the pope to visit John Hus, and, as he had formerly wished to speak to them, they were now prepared to hear him. Then John of Chlum rose, greatly incensed, and said: ‘Know you not, reverend brethren, how and in what fashion Magister John Hus came here? If you know it not, I will tell you that when I and Lord Venceslas of Lestna 3 were in Friulia with our lord the emperor and intended to return to our own country, he ordered us to assure Magister John of his safe-conduct that he might come to this council. Know, therefore, that you must do nothing against the honour of our master.'. And to the burgomaster he said in German: 'Thou shouldst know that if the devil came to have his case tried, he should be given a fair hearing.' Then addressing the bishops he continued: Our lord the king (Sigismund) also said: “If Magister Hus consents to go to Constance, tell him that on this matter (the question of heresy) he must say nothing except in my presence, when, by the help of
1 It has been necessary to abridge considerably the narrative of Mladenovic contained in his Relatio de M. J. Hus causa.
* Poden was the captain of the town guard. 3 Another title of Lord Venceslas of Duba.