The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/Answer of the Nobles of Bohemia

Answer of the Nobles of Bohemia.

Most reverend fathers and lords! forasmuch as upon Thursday it was answered in the behalf of your reverences, to the requests of the nobles and lords of Bohemia, that the said lords were misinfomed of divers points contained in the declaration of their said bill; therefore the aforesaid lords have now determined and decreed to declare their former propounded requests more at large unto your reverences, not minding hereby to argue or reprove your fatherly wisdoms and circumspections; but that your reverences (their desires being partly on this behalf fulfilled) might the more effectuously and distinctly discern and judge as touching this matter.

The bishops do quarrel about the safe conduct of John Huss.And first of all, whereas the lords alleged and said, how that Master John Huss was come hither unto Constance freely of his own good will, under the safe-conduct of the lord the king, and the protection of the sacred empire; it is answered on the behalf of your reverences, how that the said lords are misinformed as touching the safe-conduct, and that you have understood by such as are worthy credit, that the friends and favourers of the said John Huss, did first procure and get his safe conduct, fifteen days after his imprisonment.

The lords of Bohemia, and especially the lord John de Clum here present, whom this matter doth chiefly touch, doth answer, that not only the fifteenth day after, the safe conduct of John Huss obtained and showed before his imprisonment.but even the very same day that John Huss was apprehended and taken, when our reverend father the pope, in the presence of all his cardinals, demanded of Master John de Clum, whether Master John Huss had any safe conduct from the king his son, he answered, 'Most holy father and cardinals! know ye that he hath a safe-conduct; and when he was asked the question again the second time, he answered in like manner.

Yet, notwithstanding, none of them required to have the safe-conduct showed unto them: and again, the third day following, the lord John de Clum complained unto our lord the pope, how, notwithstanding the safe-conduct of our sovereign lord the king, he detained and kept Master John Huss as prisoner, showing the safe-conduct unto many. And for the further truth herein, he referreth himself unto the testimonies and witnesses of divers earls, bishops, knights, gentlemen, and famous citizens of the city of Constance, who, all together at this present, did see the said safe-conduct, and heard it read; whereupon the said John de Clum is ready to bind himself under what penalty shall be required, evidently to prove and confirm that which he hath promised, whosoever say to the contrary.

Moreover, the lords of Bohemia refer themselves unto the knowledge of certain princes electors, and other princes, bishops, and many other noblemen, who were present before the king's majesty, where and when the said safe-conduct was granted and given out by the special commandment of our said lord the king.

The bishops of the council falsely informed touching the safe conduct of John Huss.Hereby your fatherly reverences may understand and perceive that the said lords of Bohemia are not evil-informed as touching the said safe-conduct; but bishops rather they, who by such reports have falsely and untruly informed your reverences. And first of all, they have offended against the lord our king and his falsely chancellors. Secondly, against the lords and nobles of Bohemia, as though we had privily and by stealth, purchased the said safe-conduct. Wherefore the lords aforesaid most humbly require and desire your reverences, that you will not so lightly believe such as be not worthy of credit; but rather, hearing the contrary part, to labour and discuss, that the truth may the more evidently appear.

John Huss imprisoned before he was either condemned of heard.Secondly, Whereas the lords aforesaid, alleging how Master John Huss, coming unto Constance of his own free will, being neither condemned nor heard, was imprisoned, your reverences have made answers thereunto, that he, the said Master John Huss, in the time of Alexander V., was infamed and slandered upon certain heresies, and thereupon cited personally to appear in the court of Rome, and there was heard by his procurers.

And forasmuch as he refused obstinately to appear, he was excommunicated; in which excommunication he continued, as you affirm, by the space of five years: for which he was judged, and counted not only a simple and plain heretic, but a heresiarch, that is to say, an inventor and sower of new and strange heresies; and that he, coming towards Constance, did preach by the way openly. The answer touching the citation of John Huss to the court of Rome.To this the lords aforesaid do answer, that, as touching his slander and citation, they can affirm nothing but by report. But, as touching that he did not personally appear, they say they have heard both himself and divers other credible persons say, yea even the most famous prince Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, and almost all the whole nobility are witness, that he would willingly have appeared at Rome, or elsewhere, if he might safely have come thither, and deadly enmity had not letted: and, morover, his procurers His procurers evil entreated at Rome.which he sent unto the court of Rome, alleging reasonable causes for his non-appearance, some of them were cast into prison, and others were evil entreated.

As for the excommunication which he hath so long sustained, they have heard him often say, that he hath not resisted against the same by contumacy, or stubbornness, but under evident appellation, and thereupon referreth himself unto the acts of his causes which were pleaded in the court of Rome, wherein all this is more largely contained; which your reverences may evidently perceive and see in this our present public transumpt, which we have offered unto you upon certain points aforesaid.

As concerning his preaching, wherewithal his enemies do report and charge, that Master John Huss did preach openly in the city of Constance; the lords aforesaid, and especially the lord John de Clum here present, do answer, that he hath continually lodged with the said Master John Huss, here in Constance, and that whosoever they be, that have been so bold, or dare be so bold, to say and affirm that Master John Huss had preached, as is premised, or, which is less, John Huss falsely reported to preach openly at Constance.
John Huss falsely charged to preach coming to the council.
that since the time of his coming unto this city, even unto the very day and time of his captivity and imprisonment, he went but one step out of the house of his lodging, that the said lord John de Clum will and is content to bind himself with any such as shall affirm the same, under what penalty soever it be, of money or otherwise, that that which they have falsely reported unto your reverences, they shall never be able justly and truly to affirm and prove.

Thirdly, Whereas your reverences do say, that you do not understand or know, what the lords do mean, by the heretics condemned at the council holden at Pisa, whether the mocking or deriding of the pope, whose ambassadors came thither for unity or concord, who were suffered, and gently treated, as their lords were most inclined unto unity and peace; or else that they did understand or mean the particular heretics, who were there condemned; adjoining thereunto, that the heretics also coming unto the council under the pretence of that unity, should be gently handled and entreated, &c. Reverend fathers and lords! whether they be counted the first, or that they be thought the second or last, the lords aforesaid require none other thing, but that the said Master John Huss may use such liberty as they used, forasmuch as he came willingly unto this most sacred council, not for any other purpose, but only publicly to recognise his faith. And that in what point soever he shall seem to vary from the word of God, and the union of the holy mother the church, in that point he will willingly be united and reconciled again thereunto; and not only himself, but also his favourers and adherents he would move and provoke thereunto, of whom the greater number are in the kingdom of Bohemia.Has many wellwishers in Bohemia. Also he is come hither, that he might purge and clear the noble kingdom of Bohemia from the sinister and evil slander which was raised upon it.

Last of all, most reverend fathers and lords! forasmuch as your reverences have most favourably answered unto the principal request made by the lords aforesaid, that the process of Master John Huss, through God's help, should be determined and ended with all expedition and gentleness; the lords aforesaid do render most hearty thanks unto your reverences, and whensoever their desire, by God’s help, shall come to the end or effect long wished or looked for, they will not only here, but also before the whole kingdom of Bohemia, and in all other places wheresoever they come, render most immortal thanks unto your reverences for ever.

This declaration of the nobles of Bohemia above prefixed, may serve not only to the confutation of the bishop Luthonis, that Bohemian, but also against the cavillations of Alanus Copus Anglus,[1] touching the safe-conduct of John Huss, whereof sufficiently before hath been said.

  1. Dial 6, p. 929.