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soon obtained the reputation of being a very profound theologian, and the university conferred great honours on him—a fact to which Stitny alluded in a passage that I have quoted above. In 1355 Ranco became rector of the University of Paris, and he appears to have remained in France for a considerable time. He must, however, have returned to his country some time before the year 1364, as we read that he was in that year one of the canons of the cathedral of Prague, who were appointed to report on the orthodoxy of the views of Milic. Ranco, as already stated, declared that Milic had spoken under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost. From the somewhat scanty statements concerning Ranco which have reached us, it appears that he was not a man of a conciliatory nature, and he was frequently involved in the sometimes turbulent theological controversies that then raged at the university. The fact that Ranco, at a time when the university was still largely German, openly declared himself a Bohemian, and defended the interests of his countrymen, drew on him the hatred of many of the German scholars. Probably, in consequence of this ill-will, Ranco again left Bohemia and proceeded to Avignon. He appears at this time also to have lost the favour of the emperor; but Charles, always lenient to truly pious and zealous churchmen, soon allowed him to return to his country. On the death of the emperor in 1378, Ranco was awarded the honour of pronouncing a funeral oration.1 Ranco died in 1388, after having made a will which instituted a foundation for the benefit of poor students of the Bohemian nationality who might wish to study theology or the free arts at the Universities of Oxford or Paris. By this will, Ranco incurred the hostility, not only of the German writers of his time, but also of those of the present day.
Ranco’s fame as a preacher was very great in his time, and the scanty remains of his sermons that have been preserved lead us to believe that this fame was justified. Ranco’s sermon on the death of the Emperor Charles has already been mentioned. The “ synodal oration,” delivered by Ranco in 1385, is also very interesting. He here inveighs against the simony, avarice, and immorality of the clergy in a manner that recalls Waldhauser and Milic.1
1 Printed in the Fantes Rerum Bohemicamm, vol. iii. pp. 433-441.
As regards Ranco’s theological controversies, some rise little above the level of scholastic disputes, and require no notice here. Two of these controversies are, however, of interest, as they concern views that are characteristic of all Bohemian reformers. It has already been noted and will have again to be stated later, that these reformers laid great stress on the merits of the frequent communion of laymen. On this subject Ranco addressed a letter to the rector of St. Martin’s Church in the “ old town ” Albert Martin. This letter, which is distinguished by great broadness of mind and moderation, attracted great attention at the time it appeared. It has been preserved in several MSS., and Matthew of Janov quotes it in his Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamenti.” Ranco writes: “ Were I rector (farar) of a church, and laymen came to me, men or women, desiring to receive daily the sacrament of the altar, I would not permit this, except indeed it daily communion had long been established as a general custom; for a good preparation is required, which those who live among worldly people cannot obtain. If, however, someone is declared by his confessor ——_an honest and sensible man, not a fiatterer—to be sufliciently perfect, and this man has a true and ardent desire to receive the sacrament frequently, then his rector or the vicar, with the assent of the rector or his confessor, may admit him to communion at intervals of eight days, unless the statutes of the synods decree otherwise.”
Another controversy of some importance in which Ranco took part referred to the foundatiOn of a new festival in honour of the Virgin Mary. John of Jenzenstein, who succeeded his uncle, Ocko of Vlasim, as archbishop of Prague, had a particular devotion to 'the Madonna, and he founded in her honour a new festival to which he gave the name of the Visitation (Festum Visitationis S. M ariae in M ontam's). He informed the synod of his decision, which had been taken without obtaining the consent of the pope, announcing at the same time that the new festival would be kept on July 2. The archiepiscopal vicar then informed the assembled canons of the cathedral of Prague of the archbishop’s resolution, inviting them to express their views on the subject. Adalbert Ranco then rose and spoke strongly, not, indeed, against the new festival, but against the action Of the archbishop who had founded it without the permission Of the pope and the consent of the canons. As far as can be judged, these arguments were but a pretext, as the archbishop had not indeed consulted the pope, but had informed him Of the decree at the time he issued it. The attitude of Adalbert was undoubtedly a protest against what he considered an exaggerated devotion to the Virgin Mary. There is no doubt that Archbishop Jenzenstein viewed it in this light, for he became greatly incensed against Ranco. Even when the latter, having fallen ill, endeavoured to pacify Jenzenstein, the archbishop replied most ungraciously, stating that Ranco no doubt wished to amend himself because Of his fear of approaching death, and that it was for that reason also that he had begun to fast, pray, and do good works. When Ranco was dying, the archbishop sent to him the provost of Roudnice to tell him to desist from calumniating the Virgin, otherwise he would have to fear her wrath. When Ranco died on August I5, the day of the Assumption of Mary, J enzenstein regarded this as a confirmation of the truth of his warning.1
1 Thus Ranco writes: . . . Videamus et consideremus diligenter, qualibus nunc ecclesia spousa Christi commissa paranymphis et dico quod in primitiva ecclesia sanctos et perfectos suae puritatis custodes . . . nunc autem ista versa propter aliquos majores clericos in oppositam qualitatem dum videmus aliquos ad earn venire per pecuniam allatam vel post solutam et datam peius quam Simon Magus. . . . Addo quod mille annis in clero non fuerit tam scurilis habitus ut nunc est. qui multum attestatur super inordinata clericorum vita, nam mihi non est dubium quod tales clerici inordinatum habitum exterius ferentes sint in mente inordinati, corrupti et viciati. . . ." (MS. of University Library, Prague, quoted by Tadra, Voytech Rankuv.)
The last and greatest of the forerunners of Hus was Matthew of Janov. His career has up to recent times been very little known, and only one incident in his life—an incident that is not very creditable-appears to have attracted the attention of his contemporaries. Of the writers of the nineteenth century few have devoted much time and study to Janov. Foremost among these is Palacky, the Pathfinder, who first penetrated into the almost complete darkness which formerly surrounded the forerunners of Hus. Palacky's Vorldufer des Hussitenthumes is a valuable work even seventy years after its appearance. About the same time the Protestant divine, Neander, also devoted considerable attention to the study of Janov. Neander’s statement that Matthew of Janov went further in his opposition to Rome than Hus has been frequently challenged both by German and by Bohemian writers. It contains, however, a great deal of truth. That the importance of Matthew has been underrated both by the friends and foes of Rome is undoubtedly due to his formal recantation of his opinions, which became widely known. The Romanists, to whose teaching he had conformed, had no wish to perpetuate the memory of his former errors, as they considered them. The Hussites, on the other hand, always bore in mind his submission—caused by cowardice, or, as it is more charitable to suppose, by the scepticism that is sometimes the result of profound study. The Hussites rarely referred to Matthew of Janov, and some of his works were even attributed to other writers. The enthusiastic partisans of churchreform could not fail to contrast his attitude with the indomitable heroism and self-sacrifice of Hus.
1 Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, vol. iii.
It is only recently that a book has appeared dealing with Matthew of Janov which can be considered as giving a thorough account of the life and works of this great Bohemian reformer. 1 refer to the work Malej z. janova by Dr. Kybal, one of the most promising of the younger historians of Bohemia. The book is founded on sound archival research in Prague—no slight merit, as the state of most of the archives at Prague is still one of great disorder. Dr. Kybal has also begun to edit the Regulae Veteris et Novi Testarnenti,1 the life-work of Matthew.
1 Dr. Kybal’s complete edition of the Regulae Veteris at Novf Teslamenti will consist of six volumes; the first appeared in 1908.
The events of the life of Matthew of Janov do not require a detailed account. The years of his birth and his birthplace are both uncertain. We have, however, evidence to prove that he was born previously to the year I355, and we know that he belonged, like Stitny, to the smaller nobility of Bohemia. He probably went to Prague early in life, and we have his own authority for stating that he there came under the influence of Milic of Kromerice, whose memory he cherished throughout life. Whether Janov also knew Waldhauser at Prague is uncertain. The teaching of Milic naturally tended to confirm in Janov the special devotion to the Holy Scriptures which is characteristic of all Bohemian churchreforrners. He tells us: 1 “ I have loved the Bible since my youth and called it my friend and bride—verily the mother of beauteous affection, and knowledge, and fear, and holy hope."
Though dates here also continue uncertain, we know that Matthew pursued his studies at the University of Paris. He was probably there from 1373 to 1381. He became, like all Bohemians, a member of the English “ nation,” and pursued his studies with great diligence. He obtained many academic honours, and soon became known as the M agister Parisiensis, the name under which he is generally mentioned by contemporary writers. Among other academic honours Matthew obtained that of licentiate of the free arts. Because of his great poverty he was exempted from paying the fees customary on such occasions.2 In the same year—I376 —-he became master of the free arts, but henceforth devoted himself mainly to the study of theology. After having been ordained a priest in 1378, Janov endeavoured to obtain a papal provision— almost the only one in which, at that corrupt period of the church, a poor man could obtain his livelihood within the ecclesiastic state. For this purpose Matthew twice visited Rome, and it is certain that the difficulties, humiliations, and expenses, very large for a poor man, which he encountered while submitting his petitions,
1Regulae Veteris et Novi Testamenti, Proemium (p. 12 of Dr. Kybal's edition). ' Kybal, Matej z. janova.