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III. The word of God is to be freely and truthfully preached by the priests of the Lord and by worthy deacons
IV. The priests in the time of the law of grace shall claim ownership of no worldly possessions.
The compacts are obviously founded on the articles of Prague, but they hardly satisfied the demands of even the most moderate utraquists. Some of the stipulations are very unclear. The one which limited the wealth of the clergy, always very reluctantly accepted by the church, was liable to be interpreted in various manners. Indirectly this question contributed considerably to the outbreak of the thirty years’ war.1 It is doubtful whether the compacts would have generally been accepted by the Bohemians had it not been that a political reaction took place in the country about this time. The formerly powerful nobility of Bohemia had played but an insignificant part in the latter years of the Hussite wars. Many utraquist nobles therefore wished—if the freedom to retain the revered chalice was granted them—to act in union with the papal nobles and suppress the turbulent democracy of Tabor. Almost the entire nobility of Bohemia, both utraquist and Romanist, and a few of the more conservative towns formed a confederacy for this purpose, and their army decisively defeated the Taborite forces, led by Prokop the Great, at Lipany on May 30, 1434. A general pacification rapidly followed the defeat of the advanced party. At a meeting at Iglau the compacts were signed and accepted by both the Bohemians and the representatives of the council, and the Bohemians at last recognised Sigismund as their king. The estates had some time previously elected John of Rokycan as utraquist Archbishop of Prague. One of their conditions for accepting Sigismund as king was his promise to use his influence on the pope to obtain the recognition of Rokycan as archbishop. Treacherous as ever, Sigismund did not fulfil his promise, and indeed secretly opposed the recognition of the archbishop by the pope. John of Rokycan, however, continued to exercise his functions up to his death in 1471, and the fact that the papal opposition to him also continued was alone sufficient to render a true ecclesiastical pacification of Bohemia impossible.
1 See my Bohemia, a Historical Sketch, pp. 300—301.
Sigismund’s reign in Bohemia was very short. Already sixtyeight years of age, he arrived at Prague for the first time as king in August 1436, and he died in December I437. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Albert Duke of Austria, of whom the chroniclers only tell us laconically that “ he was a good man though a German.” Albert only reigned about two years, and a very turbulent period followed his death. Albert’s widow had indeed in February 1440 given birth to a son Ladislas, surnamed “ Posthumus," but the government of the country was in dispute between two rival parties among the nobility. George of Podebrad acted as leader of the utraquist—or, as Palacky at this period calls it—the national party, while Ulrich of Rosenberg was the leader of the Romanist, or Austrian party. In 1448, Podebrad obtained the guardianship of Ladislas Posthumus.
Since the defeat of Tabor the utraquist church in Bohemia had adopted a very retrograde policy. It endeavoured in every way, except by means of absolute submission, to ingratiate itself with the Roman see. These attempts were invariably resultless. The Roman pontiff never recognised Rokycan as archbishop, and Pope Nicholas V. formally repudiated the compacts. While the cringing policy of the utraquist church gained it no friends in Rome, it caused great discontent in Bohemia. Many Bohemians seriously contemplated a. union with the Eastern Church, and these negotiations were only ended in consequence of the conquest of Con~ stantinople by the Turks. Other opponents of the utraquist church favoured views not dissimilar to those formerly held by the men of Tabor. Thus arose the community of the Bohemian brethren which played so eminent a part during the last years of Bohemian independence. Its moral originator was Peter Chelcicky,1 but the community was founded by a young monk named Brother Gregory, a nephew of Archbishop Rokycan, and Michael, parish priest of Zamberk.l They first established themselves at- Kunwald, a small village near Zamberk.
1 For Chelcicky, see my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 153-171.
During the short reign of Ladislas Posthumus, George of Podebrad continued to govern Bohemia, and after his death—he died in 1457, not yet eighteen years of age—Podebrad was elected king. His reign was, particularly in its earlier part, a time of great prosperity for Bohemia. Podebrad being, however, and always remaining a firm adherent of the utraquist church, he was confronted by the constant enmity of the Roman church. It was through the influence of Rome that Podebrad became in the last years of his life involved in a long and disastrous war with King Matthias of Hungary. In consequence Of these wars, Podebrad, who had at one time thought of founding a national dynasty, was obliged to use his influence to assure the succession to the Bohemian throne to Prince Vladislav, son of Casirnir, King of Poland. Though the Bohemian estates still considered the Bohemian throne an elective one, they without much opposition accepted Vladislav as king after the death of Podebrad in 1471. Vladislav was a firm adherent of the Church of Rome, but his influence on Bohemian affairs was very slight, as after his election as King of Hungary in I490, he resided almost entirely in that country. Vladislav was succeeded by his son Louis, who had been crowned as King of Bohemia when but three years of age. He also succeeded his father as King of Hungary, and when defending that country against the Turks he was killed at the battle of Mohac, when but twenty years of age.
The estates of Bohemia, after prolonged negotiations, chose as successor to King Louis his brother-in-law Ferdinand, Archduke Of Austria. Though two princes of the House of Habsburg had previously ruled for brief periods over Bohemia, Ferdinand's election marks the accession of the House Of Habsburg to the Bohemian throne. Simultaneously with this foundation of a new dynasty, the almost extinct Romanist creed again began to gather strength. There is, of course, a close connection between the two events, for even at that time the unwritten but almost unbroken alliance between the House of Habsburg and the Roman see had long been in existence. Ferdinand, a prince of exceptional astuteness, to whose talent historians have never done suflicient justice, from the moment of his coronation endeavoured to strengthen the Roman cause in Bohemia. He endeavoured, though with little success, to gain for his side the more conservative Calixtines. Since the appearance of Lutheranism in the neighbouring German lands, these men had become somewhat isolated. The more advanced utraquists had adopted many of Luther’s views, and the community of the Bohemian brethren were yet further from the old Calixtine teaching. Yet Ferdinand found little sympathy even among the Hussites nearest to the Church of Rome, and these attempts, which began soon after Ferdinand’s accession in I526, were afterwards discontinued. A foolish and unsuccessful attempt made by the Bohemian estates in I547 to assist the German Protestants who were engaged in war with Ferdinand’s brother Charles V., gave the king the desired occasion for acting with more vigour in Bohemia. The Bohemian towns were deprived of most of their privileges. This undoubtedly proves how crafty was Ferdinand’s policy. The Bohemian nobles had sometime previously established serfdom in Bohemia, thus rendering helpless the peasants who had supplied the Hussites with their best soldiers. Ferdinand’s decrees now rendered the townsmen defenceless. As defenders of the nation and its church there remained only the knights and nobles, whom Ferdinand’s grandson was afterwards to subdue. Pursuing his policy, Ferdinand in I556 established the Jesuits in Bohemia, and in 1562 the Roman archbishopric of Prague was re-established after an interval of more than a century.
1 In German, Senftenberg.
The re-establishment of the Roman church made little progress during the reign of Maximilian, who after Ferdinand’s death in 1564 succeeded to the Bohemian throne. Maximilian’s son, Rudolph II., the second who became King of Bohemia in 1576, also at first showed little interest in religious matters, and during the prolonged struggle between him and his brother Matthias both brothers made use of the religious divergences to further their own ambitious purposes. Rudolph in 1609 very reluctantly signed the “ Letter of Majesty,” which granted the Protestants—a name that at this period included Lutherans, members of the Bohemian brotherhood, and utraquists—considerable privileges. Rudolph, as the so-called “ incursion of the men of Passau ” proves, had determined to free himself from this onerous obligation as soon as circumstances permitted it, and the same may be said of his brother Matthias, though he confirmed the letter of majesty when he succeeded his brother in 1612. Both Rudolph and Matthias being childless, Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, a grandson of Ferdinand I., became heir to the Bohemian throne, and under great pressure the majority of the Bohemian estates recognised him as such in 1617. Ferdinand, who had for some time ruled over Styria, had in that country relentlessly persecuted and driven from the land all who did not profess the Roman creed. He made no secret of his intention of pursuing the same policy in Bohemia after his succession to the throne. The Bohemians had therefore either tacitly to accept their fate, as the Styrians had done, or to rise in arms before Ferdinand should have ascended the throne. It is beyond my purpose to describe this rising and the subsequent campaigns. At the battle of the Bila Hora—November 8, I620—the religious freedom and for a time also the nationality of Bohemia perished. The Roman religion was forcibly re-established, and Hus’s influence on the development of Bohemia ends here. Yet will the memory of Hus always be sacred to Bohemians. Though the conflicts of the present day turn on questions of politics and nationality, not of religion, the memory of Hus and of the Hussite wars has often strengthened and roused to new efforts those Bohemians who felt inclined to despair of the future of their country.