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CATASTROPHE

to lie from the human point of view in the dogmatic and political essence of the Catholic Church. The iron determination to govern is the result of the Church's belief in the unity and inviolability of the law which it knows itself called upon to administer as the repre- sentative of the divinely established universal monarchy proclaimed in Christian revelation.

Sigismund realized the danger that lay in an aggressive Ottoman Empire, and was in addition confronted with religious and political up- heaval in Bohemia. The spirit of the Wyclifites had compelled Eng- land's parliament to legalize capital punishment as the only means of dealing with the Lollards, and it was now undermining civic order in the German eastern provinces as well. Prague, with its flourishing university, was the headquarters of these innovators. The Czech de- sire for political independence clashed with German tradition; and friends of ecclesiastical reform like Huss and Hieronymus were carried away by the fervour of their attack on a shameless traffic in indulgences and on a prelacy which had forgotten God to the point where their legitimate belief in their calling to cleanse the temple was tinged with Wyclifites ideas. They appealed from an errant Church to the Bible, from the Pope to Christ, and from the authority of existing institutions to personal conscience and conviction. In their zeal for the ideal Church they apostasized from the real Church.

The Emperor insisted upon obedience to Pope John. When he came to Italy, he then forced this Pope, who had been compelled to flee to Naples from Rome by the armies of Ladislas, to issue invitations to the Council. The choice of the German city of Constance indi- cated to John that whatever was done would be done inside the realm subject to Sigismund's authority. Therefore he sought at the same time to gain the support of Duke Frederic of Austria and John of Bur- gundy, both hostile to Sigismund. As he crossed the snow covered Arlberg and looked down upon the Bodensee, he said with a premo- nition of his destiny: "This, then, is the trap in which foxes are caught."

In Constance he was lodged in the bishop's palace. The public ses- sions were held in it and in the cathedral, and the discussions were con- cerned with the schism, with heresy and reform of the Church in all its members. They dealt also with the Bohemian question, the war


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