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sufficient stress. Sigismund began by stating that he deeply regretted that the nobles had acted in opposition to the authority of his dearly beloved brother Venceslas, who could not approve of a confederation among the nobles of his realm formed without his consent. He further declared that had Hus not arrived at Constance before him, but appeared in his train, matters might have turned out differently. This statement can hardly have greatly impressed the Bohemians, who knew that next to the Bishop of Litomysl and the spies in his pay, no one was more responsible for the execution of Hus than Sigismund himself. Sigismund's words overheard by Mladenovic 1 stating that even
ould Hus recant, he should not be allowed to return to his country, had already become widely known. The King of Hungary ended his letter by informing the Bohemians that as even the princes who had previously adhered to Peter de Luna (Benedict XIII.) now recognised the authority of the council, Bohemia would incur great danger, should its representatives venture to resist the entire power and authority of the Roman Church. On the same day Sigismund addressed a letter to the Romanist nobles of Bohemia, and particularly to Conrad, Archbishop of Prague, and John, Bishop of Litomysl, who were their most prominent representatives. He praised their devotion to the Roman Church and entreated them to continue faithful to it. About this time, Sigismund also addressed a letter to his sister-in-law, Queen Sophia of Bohemia. He informed her that he had heard to his great regret that many in the Bohemian realm had been infected by execrable crime and the perversity of error, and casting from them the seamless coat of Christ, which the regeneration of holy baptism had conferred on them, had succumbed like men walking in darkness and in the shadow of death to the seductions of vileness and malice. A great outcry, not without sorrow, had therefore arisen at the holy council of Constance, because of the rumour which
1 See Chapter VIII. 2 The letter is undated. It is printed by Caro, Aus der Kanzlei Kaiser Sigismunds, pp. 55-58.
ever became stronger and more frequent, that in these lands (Bohemia and Moravia) the clearness of piety had been overclouded and the worship of the divine name had been mercilessly mocked. Sigismund then expressed hopes that the queen would pluck this deadly herb (of heresy), which weakened the harvest of blessings, from her fields. He ended by referring to the proceedings against the queen and Venceslas which were being discussed at Constance. He again begged her to use her influence to extirpate heresies. Should she act otherwise he feared that punishment on the part of the council and the apostolical see, which he had hitherto prevented by interceding against the continuation of the legal proceedings, would now soon become imminent. This letter, written in the turgid style which Sigismund affected, is yet another proof of the insincerity which had become a second nature to him. Sigismund always acted entirely in union with the council, over which he indeed exercised complete control. Whether Queen Sophia, who as her letters to Pope John XXIII, and the College of Cardinals prove, was by no means deficient in penmanship, answered this letter is not known to us. The council also attempted to use its influence to strengthen the Romanists and at the same time vehemently reviled the national party. In a letter which was sent to the papal nobles a few days after Sigismund's two letters, the council stated that Satan, the ancient enemy of the human race, who wandering and roving round the world does not cease to seek out those to whom he can communicate the poison of his damnation, had so greatly inebriated Wycliffe of damned memory, then Hus and other sectators with the chalice of Babylon, that they had wretchedly spurned the doctrines of the holy fathers and turned their minds to vanities and false madness. The letter then mentioned with regret that in the kingdom of Bohemia and the marquisate of Moravia many men, eminent through their noble birth, had damnably conspired against Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith. The most important part of the letter was the last one, in which the council announced a decision that greatly envenomed the already perilous situation. The council stated that
they had appointed as legate in Bohemia and Moravia John, Bishop of Litomysl, a fervent defender of the Catholic faith, whom they had chosen among thousands. The nobles were begged to assist him in suppressing heresy in their countries. This appointment of John the “iron,” the arch-enemy of Hus and of the national party, signified throwing down the gauntlet to Bohemia. It is but fair to suppose that many moderate-minded members of the council had no such an intention. The absolute ignorance of Bohemian affairs, which was as frequent then as it is now, is no doubt their excuse.
While this diplomatic campaign, which I have here only been able briefly to outline, was proceeding, the Bohemians had already appealed to force, though actual warfare only began considerably later. Though the doctrine of the necessity-in distinction from the admissibility of communion in the two kinds had only been recognised by Hus at the end of his life, great importance was attached to it by the Bohemians, whose symbol the chalice became When on the news of the execution of Hus tumults broke out in Prague, many priests who refused to administer communion in the two kinds were driven from the city, and their houses plundered, while utraquist priests took their places. The estates of wealthy prelates also did not escape. The estates of the Bishop of Litomysl were seized by neighbouring lords of the national party, and the "iron " bishop was thus, as Palacky remarks with not unnatural bitterness, relieved for a time of that care of worldly goods which had hitherto so exclusively occupied his mind. The breach between Bohemia and the Western Church was necessarily widened by the appointment of the Bishop of Litomysl as legate of the council. The Bohemians became ever more inclined to
o establish a
national church in their country. The covenant concluded by the Bohemian nobles had already pointed to the university as an authority in religious matters. This principle was now generally accepted, particularly as church-reformers were already beginning to spread doctrines that had never been taught by Hus. On the suggestion
1 Abridged from Palacky, Documenta, p. 616.
of Master Jacobellus, the principal theologians of the university met in the so-called great college on August 9, 1417, and formulated the Hussite doctrine in the following four articles: 1
I. The word of God shall in the kingdom of Bohemia be freely and without impediment proclaimed and preached by Christian priests.
II. The sacrament of the body and blood of God shall in the two kinds, that is in bread and wine, be freely administered to all faithful Christians according to the order and teaching of our Saviour.
III. The priests and monks, according to secular law, possess great worldly wealth in opposition to the teaching of Christ. Of this wealth they shall be deprived.
IV. All mortal sins, particularly those that are public, as well as all disorders opposed to God's law, shall in all classes a be suppressed by those whose office it is to do so. All evil and untruthful rumours 3 shall be suppressed for the good of the commonwealth, the kingdom and the nation.
These articles contain the pith of the Hussite teaching, and on them were founded the compacts by which the Roman see for a time accepted at least a part of the demands of the Bohemians. Though according to Dr. Dvorsky's conjecture, which I have adopted, the origin of the articles dates as far back as 1417, they only became generally known when they were presented to Sigismund and her German allies during the siege of Prague.
1 These articles are the famed articles of Prague, which later became the foundation of the compacts. Dr. Dvorsky, in a study which he sent me just before his recent death, attributes them to the year 1417, though they only became known during the siege of Prague by Sigismund in 1420. Dr. Dvorsky's conjecture has much probability. It seems unlikely that this confession of faith should have been suddenly developed during the excitement of a siege. Dr. Dvorsky also quotes references to the articles which are of an earlier date than 1420.
· The Bohemian word is stav,” which could in mediæval phraseology be translated by “estate.”
3 This principally referred to the statement frequently made by the Germans that Bohemia was a heretical country.
• Brezova, in his full version of the articles, gives after each of them lengthy quotations from scripture and the fathers to support them. These may have been added when the articles were presented to the Germans in 1420.
Unfortunately for the cause of church-reform, discord soon broke out among the Hussites, as all members of the national party soon began to be called. A considerable party—soon to be known as the Taborites—in direct contradiction with the teaching of Hus, began at an early period to reject all sacraments except baptism and communion, the existence of purgatory, and many rites and regulations of the Roman Church. Though the dauntless and unrivalled bravery of the Taborites contributed largely to the brilliant victories of the Bohemians, yet in these dissensions lay the germ of the future downfall of the country. The fatal scission among the Hussites foreshadows already the fateful battle of Lipan, and dimly even the more fateful battle of the Bila Hora, where Bohemian freedom and independence perished. As all churches, even those where the utraquist rites were observed, were closed to the Taborites, they began to assemble in large numbers in the fields and on mountains. Lawrence of Brezova, the foremost among the historians of the Hussite war, writes: 2 “In the year 1419 the priests and preachers of Scripture who favoured the teaching of Hus and communion in the two kinds, who were then called Wycliffites or Hussites, and with them people of both sexes from all parts of Bohemia, both from towns and villages, began to assemble on a hill near Bechyn, to which they gave the name of Tabor. The priests carried the eucharist before them, and particularly on feast days administered the sacrament to the faithful with great reverence; for the enemies of communion in the two kinds prevented the common people from receiving the communion in that fashion in any church of that neighbourhood. On the day of St. Mary Magdalene,' a large number of people of both sexes, and many little children, more than 40,000 people from all parts of the kingdom, assembled on this hill and with great fervour received the sacrament of the body of God and of the blood of God, according to the order of Jesus Christ, which was preserved
13.e. White Mountain.