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therefore summoned to Kutna Hora some of the most prominent members of the university. Among them were the rector Henning of Baltenhagen and several other Germans, as well as four Bohemian masters, the most prominent of whom were Hus, and Jerome who had just returned to Bohemia from prolonged travels. The king first discussed matters with the rector, who adroitly avoided entirely the question of the schism, but complained bitterly of the “Wycliffite" agitation, which, he said, endangered the peace of the city of Prague, as well as the fame of Bohemia as a country exempt from all heresies. He thus referred to a matter which deeply touched the king, as indeed all Bohemians. It is difficult at the present day to realise what a sense of opprobrium the word "heretic " conveyed even to men who openly by deed and word opposed the Church of Rome. Bohemia had always boasted that it was untainted by heresy. Hus in the moment of death declared that he had never expressed heretical views. As late as at the council of Basel the Hussite envoys protested more energetically against the statement that they were heretics than against any other accusation. The anger of Venceslas, who was undoubtedly misled by the cunning German, is therefore natural. The king also may have feared that the popular excitement might cause riots in Prague. Venceslas graciously dismissed Henning of Baltenhagen and then addressed Hus and Jerome in very violent language. He accused them of fomenting disorders in the land and threatened them with death at the stake.
Other councils, however, soon prevailed with King Venceslas. His courtiers were almost all favourable to the party of churchreform, and they frequently assisted at Hus's sermons in the Bethlehem chapel. They were far too true courtiers to interfere at a moment when the king was carried away by fury, but they gradually guided his thoughts back to the bias they had formerly had. They obtained powerful aid from the members of the French embassy, which arrived at Kutna Hora in January, 1409. The embassy was very numerous, and as was then customary, particularly when ecclesiastical matters were to be discussed, it included
theologians--members of the famed University of Paris. These men employed all their eloquence in endeavouring to persuade Venceslas to renounce the allegiance of Pope Gregory, and it is very probable that, when the opposition of the German members of the University of Prague was mentioned, the French envoys may have pointed out that the Paris University granted no such great privileges to aliens. The queen also spoke strongly in favour of the party of Hus. Finally, Nicholas of Lobkowitz, a favourite courtier of the king and one who, as manager of the royal mines at Kutna Hora, had daily access to his sovereign, prevailed on him to sign the famous decree of Kutna Hora (January 18, 1409). In this decree, addressed to the rector of the University of Prague, the king, after the usual formal introductory remarks, proceeds to state that whereas the Teutonic nation, possessing no rights of citizenship in Bohemia, claims, as is truthfully reported, three votes in all matters concerning the University of Prague, while the Bohemian nation, the lawful heirs of this kingdom, possesses and enjoys but one, (therefore) the king, considering it most unjust and unbeseeming that foreigners and aliens should largely enjoy the advantages that belong rightly to the residents, who consider themselves oppressed by this loss and disadvantage, decrees that the university shall henceforth, without all resistance, allow the Bohemian nation to have in all assemblies, judgments, examinations, elections, and other transactions three votes in the same manner as the French nation has them in Paris, and in accordance with the regulations of Lombardy and Italy. The decree ends by stating that the rector, should he not act according to these instructions, would incur the king's gravest displeasure.?
This famous decree, which entirely altered the constitution of the university, was naturally received with great enthusiasm by the national party. The principal leader of that party was at this
· Venceslas's decree changing the constitution of the university-which will be mentioned presently-alludes to the regulations of the University of Paris.
: Abridged from the Latin original, printed by Palacky (Documenta, Pp. 347–348).
moment seriously ill. Hus, whose nature, in spite of his indomitable physical courage, was a very sensitive one, felt deeply the insulting speech of the king, for whom he, as a loyal Bohemian, felt affection and respect. On his return to Prague he was seized by one of those violent attacks of illness that were not infrequent during his troubled and comparatively short life. It is stated that the good news reached Master John on his sick-bed late on the night of January 19. His friend Nicholas of Lobkowitz had sent a messenger to him with a copy of the decree of Kutna Hora. Hus, Dr. Flajshans writes, eagerly seized with his hands that still trembled from fever this magna charta of the liberty of the Bohemian nation in the university. Almost immediately afterwards Hus was visited by two friends, who found him still in a state of joyful excitement. “ Would it be just,” he asked them, “if we had three votes ? Standing near the bed of Hus they both answered as with one voice, “Would that God did but grant it! We shall never attain to such a power.” Hus answered: “Here is a copy of the king's letter to the university. Read!” Hus's visitors, ancient masters of the Bohemian nation who had struggled for many years for the rights of their country, were overwhelmed with surprise and joy. Hus, pointing to his emaciated body, exhorted his comrades to fortitude. "I am," he said, “nearly dying; if then I die, defend, I beg you, the rights and the freedom of our nation.'
After the decisive step, the publication of the decree of Kutna Hora, had been taken, events moved with great rapidity. Only four days later a new decree of King Venceslas 2 stated that the cardinals (i.e., those who had renounced the obediences of Gregory and Benedict), his dearest friends, men who were zealous for the unity of the church, had earnestly begged him to refuse obedience to the two contending pontiffs, pointing out that thus only could peace among the Christian people and the amity of the church be secured. Venceslas then threatened with severe penalties all who
should obey any orders of Pope Gregory-Pope Benedict had never been recognised by any one in Bohemia--or his party, or favour them in any way.
On January 26, the royal decree was read to the assembled members of the university. The Germans openly expressed their displeasure, and at a meeting which took place a few days later all the German members of the university pledged themselves, "under the fourfold penalty of perjury, excommunication, deprivation of honours, and a fine of threescore hundred groschen,” to leave the university and never again pursue their studies there, rather than admit that the Bohemians should have three votes at the deliberations of the university and the other nations only one. Hus, though he has often been falsely accused of wishing to expel the German students from Prague, strongly blamed the decision and advised them to "annul their foolish and illicit vow, which the devil had inspired."i Before leaving Prague, however, the German magisters determined to address a remonstrance to Venceslas. This short letter, which cannot be said to have been couched in a very respectful tone, was delivered to the king on February 6. It stated that under an influence or influences known to God alone 2 the king had sent to the university, his daughter, a letter which seriously decreed that the Bohemian nation should in future have three votes at the university and the other nations only one. The German magisters then proceeded to point out the evil results which they said this decree would certainly have.
The king, a few days later, sent a lengthy reply, which very clearly states his case and deserves a somewhat detailed notice. Venceslas began by stating that his royal prerogative permitted
1" Si quis vestrum juravit ut exiret de Bohemia nunquam reversurus hic illicite juravit; rescindat juramentum stultum illicitum, a dyabolo et a suis satellitibus inductum.' (Super IV. Sententiarum, vol. vi. d. i. p. 503 of Dr. Flajshans's edition). In his introduction to the work Super IV. Sententiarum, Dr. Flajshans has very skilfully proved that this lecture on Peter Lombard was delivered at the time when the German students were preparing to leave Prague.
: * Ex cujus vel quorum inductione Deus novit.” Palacky, Documenta, p. 351.
* Ibid. pp. 355-363.
him to make whatever changes he thought fit at the university, and then pointed out that he had the right to consider the three nations which had joined into one German nation as a single unity. The letter then, with the abundance of biblical quotations customary at that period, blamed the disobedience of those who refused to obey the king, the ruler of Bohemia. It was further stated that the inhabitants of the kingdom of Bohemia, the true Bohemians (regnicolae regni Bohemiae, veri Bohemi), were entitled to receive such privileges as the king thought fit to bestow on them, and that he had rightly given them such privileges with regard to judgments, offices, elections, and other concerns of the university. The foreign nations—the letter continued to say or rather the Teutonic nation, should humbly obey the decree of the king, which conferred three votes on the Bohemian nation, mindful of the words: Friend, I do thee no wrong ... take that thine is and go thy way.
. . Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good ? The letter then affirms, again bringing forward scriptural quotations to support the affirmation, that the Bohemian nation must be the ruler (rectrix) of the other nations at the university, and that the Teutonic nation therefore, by claiming three votes, claims supremacy over the Bohemian onema claim that is contrary to the king's wishes and undutiful to God. The Teutonic nationthe letter continues--would never admit that at Vienna or Heidelberg the Bohemians should hold superior rank and rule over the inhabitants. It is written: As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. If, therefore, the Teutons wish that the Bohemians in Germany should not oppose their supremacy, let them in Bohemia act similarly towards the Bohemians. Both canon and civil law teach that the inhabitants of a kingdom should hold supremacy over the foreigners who visit their country. The letter then contains a detailed refutation of the German statement that the regulations favourable to them at the university were of
1 Matthew xx. 13-15; only the passages given above are quoted in the letter.
2 Luke vi. 31.