« PredošláPokračovať »
in matters of religion which at most periods of history we find among the people of Bohemia. I have elsewhere written extensively on the works of Stitny. It will here only be necessary to refer to his writings as far as they are connected with the cause of churchreform in Bohemia.
Thomas of Stitny, who belonged to the smaller nobility of Bohemia, was born at the castle-or tower,” to use the Bohemian designation of Stitny, in Southern Bohemia. As already mentioned, he visited the University of Prague shortly after its foundation, and being of a studious nature soon fell under the influence of the preaching of Waldhauser and Milic. He viewed with great indignation the persecution on the part of the mendicant friars which these pious preachers then suffered. In the chapter of his work, Of General Christian Matters,2 which treats of monkery, Stitny writes, obviously alluding to these persecutions: “They (the monks) quarrel, hate one another, revile one another ... and, what is most terrible, every worthy preacher, every good man displeases them, for he sees their errors; gladly would they declare such a man a heretic that they might more freely practise their wiles." Stitny writes yet more clearly in one of his yet unpublished works 3 "Thus within my memory the devil incited them (the monks) against Conrad, a noble preacher of God's truth, and they said that he was an apostate, because he exposed the wiles of false priesthood and taught that which is truth; thus also they were hostile to the good Milic; and the evil spoke evilly of him, but it was false. There are some also who would be glad if that which I write were drowned, because they wish that they alone should appear wise.” Somewhat later, in the same manuscript, Stitny again refers to "the priest Conrad and the priest Milic who were in Prague, faithful and brave preachers of God's word, one to the Germans, the other to the Bohemians; because
1 See Erben's Introduction to his edition of Stitny's O obecnych vecech Krestanskych (Of general Christian matters).
* Book iv. p. 136 of Erben's edition. • Quoted by Erben in his Introduction to the book, of General Christian Matters, p. viii.
they spoke against this, that men in holy orders live in an unholy fashion, many thundered at them with insolent and untruthful speeches, and even now these speak evilly of them who say of evil that it is not evil, and of these good men that they were not good.”
It has already been frequently pointed out that we find much in common in the views of the Bohemian reformers. Common to all is an intense devotion to the Holy Bible. I have already alluded to it, and shall have to do so again when writing of Matthew of Janov. In Stitny, this feeling is very strong; he writes: 1 “This also mark carefully, beloved brethren, that the Holy Scriptures are truly like letters that are sent to us from our home; for our home is heaven, and our friends are the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, and our fellow-citizens are the angels with whom we shall be, and our king is Christ.” Similarly as regards eschatological matters and the supposed advent of Antichrist-a subject that then was in the minds of all, particularly in Bohemia—the views of Stitny recall those of Milic. Thus referring to a passage in the Revelation, Stitny writes: 3 "The movement of the earth is the movement of the people who are withdrawing from the truth. The sun signifies the papal throne and the moon the imperial one, and the falling stars signify those of both estates who fall from heavenly desires to earthly ones, and from order to disorder. Another matter in which the Bohemian reformers incurred the enmity of the more numerous and less worthy members of the Bohemian clergy, was their recommendation of the frequent communion of laymen. This was very distasteful to many priests whose pride induced them to extend as far as possible the lines that divided them from the laity. It is also probable, as Professor Tomak has shrewdly conjectured, that they thought that constant administration of the sacrament of the altar took up too much
Second preface to the work, Of General Christian Matters, p. 5 of Erben's edition.
· Chapter vi. 12-13. 3 MS. quoted in Erben's Introduction to the book, Of General Christian Matters, p. X.
• History of the Town of Prague, vol. iii.
of their time, while the remuneration was very scant. The question of frequent communion together with that of communion in the two kinds, plays a very large part in the Hussite movement. The claim of laymen to receive communion as frequently and in the same form as ecclesiastics, was an outcome of the Bohemian view, that all worthy Christians are equally members of God's Church. As has happened not infrequently, the less worthy the clergy became, the greater became its claims to a superior and exclusive position. At this period we often meet in Bohemia with the theory that even the worst priest is better than the best layman. On the subject of frequent communion Stitny expresses himself clearly. He writes: 1 "I wonder at those many wise people who have strenuously opposed the wishes of those who desire to receive frequently the body of God. How much better would it be if such men would rather diligently teach goodness to instruct those who wish frequently to receive the body of God; and with what rage do they blame without reflection all who, not being priests, frequently receive the body of God. Haply also Milic was offensive to them, he who taught the people God's will in truth and in the unity of God's faith differing nowise from the Holy Scripture."
Though we thus find in Stitny much that is common to all Bohemian reformers, he differed from them particularly in the later years of his life, by displaying more caution and greater subserviency to the Church of Rome. He frequently asserts that he does not intend to write anything contrary to the teaching of that church, and declares, “Should I have written anything unwisely, I wish to state that I do not intend to hold any views except those held by the Christian community, and the University of Prague.” This passage is interesting as foreshadowing the great authority on theological matters which the University of Prague acquired during the Hussite wars. As regards the question of the veneration of pictures, Stitny writes in a very moderate manner, declaring, perhaps in not unintentional opposition to
1 MS. printed by Erben in his Introduction to the book, Of General Christian Matters, p. ix.
Matthew of Janov, who had very strong views on this subject : “I am not one of those who think that there should be no images among Christians. I think they exaggerate; for we may have pictures instead of writings as a memorial of such (holy) things, but not that such a picture be as a likeness of God."1 With great humility, Stitny deferred to those whom he believed to possess profounder learning than he himself could claim. In a letter addressed to Adalbert Ranco,
Ranco, “that master of stupendous intellect and wondrous memory, who first of the Bohemians obtained the mastership of Holy Scripture at the University of Paris," Stitny, while sending him his book Of General Christian Matters, begs him to correct his writings should they contain anything contrary to Scripture.2
Stitny's writings were very numerous, and he constantly re-wrote them, sometimes altering their names. He did not begin writing early in life; and of his two greatest works the first, the book Of General Christian Matters (0 obecnych vecech Krestanskych) 3 was only finished in 1376. It deals mainly with theological matters, but the book, written for the instruction of Stitny's children, contains much excellent advice on matters of daily life. More pretentious is Stitny's other great work, entitled Besedni Reci, 4 which may be translated by Learned Entertainments. The book is an attempt to define, according to the scholastic system, the personality of God and His attributes. It is in strict accordance with the doctrine of Rome, as far as that doctrine had been developed at the time of Stitny. As already noted, Stitny, towards the end of his life, became much more moderate in his denunciations of the iniquities of his time, and the later manuscripts of his works are far more obsequious to the Roman Church than the earlier ones had been. While the reform movement continuously assumed a more advanced character, Stitny's caution became ever greater, and he was at the end of his life no longer in touch with the leaders
1 Erben, Introduction to his edition of the book, Of General Christian Matters. Ibid.
: Edition by Erben, 1852. · Edited by Professor Hattala, 1897.
of a movement to the development of which he had largely contributed. Stitny's merits as a Bohemian writer are very great; he was the first to employ the national language as a medium for the discussion of theological and philosophical questions. He was in this also a true forerunner of Hus, whose great merits for the development of the language of his country have only lately been recognised. In the last years of his life, Stitny returned to Prague, and lived there up to his death in 1401. At this period his constant companion was his daughter, Anna, or Anezka, as he called her. After his death she occupied part of a house near the Bethlehem chapel where Hus was shortly to begin to preach. It is known that several pious ladies lived in community in a house near Hus's chapel. If, as is probable, Anezka of Stitny was one of these ladies, the fact forms an interesting link between Stitny and his greater successor.
In connection with Stitny and the other reformers previously mentioned, the name of Adolbert Ranco (known also as Ranconis, or Rankuv) cannot be omitted. The details of his life are very obscure, though we meet with his name constantly in the writings of the Bohemian reformers, and he was famed as the most learned Bohemian of his time. It is permissible to include him among the Bohemian reformers, not only because of his constant relations with these men, which I have frequently mentioned, but also because he, as he has stated in a letter to which I have already alluded, complained of the hostility of the mendicant friars who accused him of being an “Armachanus." The year of the birth of Ranco is uncertain, but we find him a student at the University of Paris in 1348. He there belonged to the "English" nation, which, besides English, included also Scotchmen and Germans as well as the few students from Slavic countries. Ranco
1 I have mainly based this brief account of the career of Ranco on an article by Dr. Tadra, entitled “ Mistr Vojtech Rankuv," which appeared in the Casopis Musea Kralovstvi Ceskeho (Journal of the Bohemian Museum), for 1879. Previously Dr. Loserth had published an outline of the career of Ranco in his Beiträge zur Geschichte der Hussitischen Bewegung, ii. Dr. Loserth's study shows great animus against Ranco.