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whose sermons in the Bethlehem chapel induced Hus to seek indulgences at the Vysehrad, and whom he, referring to his eloquence, compares to a sonorous trumpet. "i We have on the whole but scanty information concerning Hus during his stay at the college in the fruit-market. Among his fellow-students were some men with whom he was again associated later in life. Such men were Jerome of Prague, a man somewhat younger than Hus, and Jacob of Stribro, commonly known as Jacobellus, because of his diminutive size, who was the real originator of utraquism. The fates were to be more gracious to Jacobellus than to his companions, for while Hus and Jerome perished in the flames, Jacobellus died peacefully at Prague in 1429 as honoured leader of the utraquist or Hussite church.
The plan of studies pursued by young Hus at the university was that usually followed by youthful students of theology at mediæval universities. Dr. Flajshans has in his valuable work on Hus given an interesting account of these studies, referring specially to the customs peculiar to the university of Prague. Great importance was attached to theological disputations, in which the subtlety of scholastic distinctions and definitions found full play. Hus appears to have shown great aptitude for the exercises, and this no doubt accounts for the skill and acuteness which he afterwards displayed at Constance, when confronted with the most learned and most subtle theologians of Europe. In 1393, at an unusually early age, Hus obtained the first of academic honours, that of bachelor of arts. Together with him, several companions, among them Jacobellus, went through the ordeal of the previous examinations, which took place in the large hall of the Carolinum, the college founded by Charles. Probably shortly afterwards the Archbishop John of Jenzenstein conferred on Hus the minor orders, though it appears that he was only ordained as a priest considerably later. He continued meanwhile to pursue successfully his academic career. In 1394 he became a bachelor of divinity, and in 1396 a master of arts. In 1402 he became, at an unusually
i Hus, Opera (Nuremberg ed., 1715), vol. ii. p. 65.
early age, for the first time rector of the university. It was probably in 1400 that Hus was ordained a priest, but as Dr. Lechler has noted, Hus, like Melanchthon, who played so great a part in the German reformation, never obtained the degree of doctor of divinity. Though Hus had from the first been noted for his piety, his religious enthusiasm, as he has told us, and contemporary writers confirm, became yet greater after he had been ordained. Though Hus, whose home was in the frontier districts where the struggle between Slav and Teuton is always fiercest, no doubt from his earliest youth was interested in this strife, it was also about this time that he began to brood more seriously over the wrongs of his country. In 1401 Bohemia was invaded by the German troops of the Margrave of Meissen, the ally of Rupert, Elector Palatine, whom the enemies of King Venceslas had elected King of the Romans. These troops ravaged Bohemia in a cruel mannerfact to which Hus alludes in one of his earliest sermons, preached probably in 1401, in which he also incidentally expatiates on the inferior position which his countrymen occupied in their own country. “The Bohemians," he said, " are more wretched than dogs or snakes; for a dog defends the couch on which he lies, and if another dog tries to drive him away, he fights with him, and a snake does the same.
But us the Germans oppress, seizing all the offices of state, while we are silent. Bohemians in the kingdom of Bohemia, according to all laws, indeed also according to the law of God and according to the natural order of things, should be foremost in all offices in the Bohemian kingdom; thus the French are so in the French kingdom, and the Germans in the German lands. Therefore should a Bohemian rule his own subordinates, and a German German (subordinates). But of what use would it be if a Bohemian, not knowing German, became a priest or a bishop in Germany? He assuredly would be as useful as a dumb dog who cannot bark is to a herd! And equally useless to us Bohemians is a German; and knowing that this (i.e. the rule of Germans over Bohemians) is against God's law and the regulations, I declare it to be illegal.”
The great talents of Hus as a preacher appear to have been from the beginning recognised by his countrymen. In 1401 we already find him preaching at the church of St. Michael by permission of Bernard, a monk of the Zderaz monastery, who was the parish priest of St. Michael's. Though the monk Bernard was a strong opponent of church-reform, Hus was on terms of friendship with him and often dined at the parsonage. Hus, as was always his custom, expressed his opinions freely, and many statements made by him here and at the house of another friend, Venceslas the cup-maker," were in a distorted form brought forward as evidence against him many years later.1 As Hus was then and continued many years afterwards to be on good terms with his ecclesiastical superiors, this circumstance appears an evil example of the tendency to eavesdropping and espionage of which the Bohemians are so often accused by their enemies.
It was due to the great fame of Hus as a preacher that he obtained in 1402 the important appointment of preacher at the Bethlehem chapel. This foundation is so closely connected with Hus and the Hussite movement that it deserves notice here. The foundation was undoubtedly an offshoot of Milic's reform movement, and it is, as Dr. Tomek writes, somewhat strange that such a foundation should have been permitted by the ecclesiastical authorities at a time when the Archbishop of Prague was persecuting the followers of Milic. The founder of Bethlehem was John or Hanus of Millheim, of whom too little is known. We only read that he was one of the favourite courtiers of King Venceslas IV., and that he was, judging by his name, not a Bohemian by birth. He appears to have been owner of considerable estates—among others, of that of Pardubice in north-eastern Bohemia, as well as of considerable house property in Prague. Through his wife, Anna Zajic of Hasenburg, he was connected with the ancient nobility of Bohemia. The year of his birth is uncertain, but we have documentary evidence to prove that he died before the year 1408. Associated with him in the foundation was the tradesman
See Palacky, Documenta, passim, particularly pp. 174-185.
Kriz, a rich and patriotic citizen of Prague, who was very anxious to obtain for his fellow-citizens the privilege of hearing sermons, in their native language. It was he who gave the building ground on the present Betlemské Namesti (Bethlehem Square), and he hoped, as events proved rightly, that his association with a powerful and influential noble would enable him to overcome the resistance which, during the period of reaction that followed the death of Milic, an enterprise founded on the lines of that churchreformer would necessarily encounter. The document drawn up by Millheim which established the Bethlehem foundation (dated May 24, 1391) indeed breathes entirely the spirit of Milic. He states that, according to the teaching of the holy fathers, the word of God should not be fettered, but should be preached with the greatest freedom and in the manner most useful to the church and its members. Regret is then expressed that there was not as yet at Prague a place specially destined for preaching, and in particular none where sermons could be preached in the national language. Bohemian preachers were therefore generally obliged to seek shelter in houses or hiding-places. To obviate such evils in future Millheim decreed that the rector of the new foundation should be a secular priest whose duty it was to be to preach in Bohemian twice a day-in the morning and in the afternoon-on all Sundays and feast days, except during Advent and Lent, when he was only expected to preach in the morning. Relying on the support of his influential ally, the pious Kriz began building the Bethlehem chapel even before he had received the royal sanction of the foundation. Near the chapel Kriz built, also on the present Bethlehem Square, a modest dwelling for the priest who was to officiate in the chapel. The door of this modest house, sanctified to Bohemians by the fact that it was for a time inhabited by Hus, has been preserved, and is now indicated by an appropriate inscription. The Bethlehem chapel itself was entirely demolished by the Emperor Joseph II. of Austria in 1786.2 It appears to have been a some
1 Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, vol. iii. pp. 426-427.
• Not by the Jesuits as has been frequently stated; they had been expelled from the Austrian states several years previously.
what extensive building, deserving rather the name of a church than that of a chapel which it always retained. It is said to have been roomy enough to contain over a thousand people. Many ancient views of the famed Bethlehem chapel-Millheim had followed Milic in giving a Biblical name to his foundation--have still been preserved. The German historian Zacharias Theobaldus, who visited Prague in 1621, writes that he had at that time already found little in the Bethlehem chapel that was of historical interest." He saw, however, a bench on which Hus had frequently sat and the pulpit from which he had preached. The latter had been greatly injured by the many pious travellers who had cut off and carried away chips from it.
The Bethlehem chapel, specially instituted for the purpose of preaching in the national language from its foundation, attracted great interest; the preachers there were renowned for their eloquence. The fame of the chapel, however, became yet much greater when Hus began to preach there. As had been the case with Milic, disciples now began to gather round Hus and formed a considerable part of his congregation. His following was not limited to men. Many pious Bohemian ladies soon began to occupy rooms near the Bethlehem chapel to be in the neighbourhood of the enthusiastic preacher. One of the first to do this was Anezka of Stitny, who has already been mentioned. Somewhat later, Cunegunda of Wartenberg, who shared the apartments of Anezka, Catherine Kaplir of Sulevic, and other noble Bohemian ladies found dwelling-places near the Bethlehem chapel, where Queen Sophia, the wife of King Venceslas, was also a frequent visitor. These ladies devoted themselves wholly to religious exercises and works of charity, forming an association similar to those of the Beguines, though they were not fettered by any rules or regulations. The important part played by women in the Hussite movement has, as I have already remarked, been much overlooked by historians.
1" Doch habe ich kein Antiquitet so zu diesem meinem proposito (i.e., of studying the history of Hus and the Hussite wars) gehöret finden können.” (Zacharias Theobaldus Hussitenkrieg, p. 28.)