The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/Continuation of the Memorable History of the Bohemians

Continuation of the Memorable History of the Bohemians;


And now from our English matters, to return again to the story of the Bohemians, from whence we have a little digressed, as touching such things as happened after the death of John Huss and Jerome of Prague.

When the news of the barbarous cruelty exercised at Constance against John Huss and Jerome of Prague, was noised in Bohemia, the nobles and gentlemen of Moravia and Bohemia, such as favoured the cause of John Huss, gathering themselves together in the zeal of Christ, first sent their letter unto the council; expostulating with them for the injury done to those godly men, as is before expressed; for which letter they were all cited up to the council. Unto this letter Sigismund the emperor maketh answer again in the name of the whole council; first, excusing himself of the death of John Huss, which, he said, was against his safe-conduct, and against his will; insomuch that he rose in anger from the council, and departed out of Constance, as is before remembered. Secondly, he requireth them to be quiet, and to conform themselves peaceably unto the order of the catholic church of Rome, &c.

Also the council, hearing or fearing some stir to rise among the Bohemians, did make laws and articles whereby to bridle them, to the number of twenty-four.

Articles decreed in the Council of Constance, against the Bohemians.

I. That the king of Bohemia shall be sworn to give obedience, and to defend the liberties of the church of Rome.

II. That all masters, doctors, and priests, shall be sworn to abjure the doctrine of Wicklitf and Huss, in that council condemned.

III. That all they who, being cited, would not appear, should also be sworn to abjure; and they who would not appear, contemning the censure of the keys, should have process against them, and be punished.

IV. That all such laymen as had defended the causes of John Wickliff and John Huss, should swear to defend them no more, and to approve the doings of that council, and the condemnation of John Huss.

V. That all such secular men who had spoiled the clergy, should be sworn to restitution.

VI. That priests being expelled from their benefices, should be restored again.

VII. That all profaners of churches should be punished after the canonical sanctions.

VIII. That such as had been promoters in the council against John Huss, should be permitted safely to return into Bohemia again, and to enjoy their benefices.

IX. That the relics and treasure taken out of the church of Prague, should be restored fully again.

X. That the university of Prague should be restored again and reformed, and that they who had been the disturbers thereof should be really punished.

The favourers of Huss in Bohemia.XI. That the principal heretics and doctors of that sect should be sent up to the see apostolic; namely, Johannes Jessenetz, Jacobellus de Misnia, Simon de Bohemia. Tysna, Simon de Rochinzano, Christianas de Brachatitz, Johannes Cardinalis, Zdenko de Loben, the provost of Alhallows, Zaislaus de Suiertitz, and Michael de Czisko.

XII. That all secular men, who communicated under both kinds, should abjure that heresy, and swear to stop the same hereafter.

XIII. That they who were ordained priests by the suffragan[1] of the archbishop of Prague, taken by the lord Zenco, should not be dispensed with, but sent up to the see apostolic.

Wickliff's books translated.XIV. That the treatises of John Wickliff, translated into the Bohemian tongue, by John Huss and Jacobellus, should be brought to the ordinary.

XV. That the treatises of John Huss, condemned in the council, should also be brought to the ordinary.

XVI. That all the tractations of Jacobellus, 'De Utraque specie de Antichristo' (wherein he calleth the pope Antichrist), and 'De Remanentia Panis post Consecrationem,' should likewise be brought and burned.

XVII. That all songs and ballads made to the prejudice of the council, and of the catholic persons of both states, should be forbid to be sung in cities, towns, and villages, under great and extreme punishment.

XVIII. That none should preach the word without the license of the ordidinary, or of the parson of that place.

XIX. That ordinaries and prelates, having jurisdiction, should not be stopped in their jurisdiction by the secular power, under pain of excommunication.

XX. That all and singular persons shall be commanded to obedience, under pain of excommunication; and that whosoever knoweth any person to favour any Wicklevists, or their doctrine, or that keepeth company with suspect persons, he shall present the same to his diocesans or his officials.

XXI. That the confederacy of the seculars made between themselves, or any of the spiritualty, to the prejudice of the foresaid council, and of the apostolic see and church of Rome, in favour of John Huss, Jerome of Prague, and others in the said council condemned, shall be dissolved.

Concilium malignantium.XXII. That the rights and ceremonies of the christian religion, touching God's service, images, and worshipping of relics, shall be observed, and transgressors of the same be punished.

XXIII. That all and singidar, either spiritual or secular, that shall preach, teach, hold, or maintain, the opinions and articles of John Wickliff, John Huss, and Jerome, in this council condemned and convicted of the same, shall be holden for heretics; and, falling in relapse, shall be burned.

XXIV. That all secular persons being monished and charged by the ordinaries, shall be bound to give their aid and furtherance unto them touching the premises.

The Bohemians, notwithstanding these cruel articles, contemning the vain devices of these prelates and fathers of the council, ceased not to proceed in their league and purpose begun, joining themselves more strongly together.

In the mean time it happened, that during this council of Constance, after the deposing of pope John, and spoiling of his goods, which came to seventy-five thousand pounds of gold and silver, as is reported in the Story of St. Alban's, pope Martin, on the day of St. Martin, was elected;[2] concerning whose election great preparation was made before by the council, so that besides the cardinals, five other bishops of every nation should enter into the conclave, who there together should be kept with thin diet, till they had founded a pope. At last, when they were together, they agreed upon this man, of pope and, not tarrying for opening the door, like madmen, for haste they burst open a hole in the wall, crying out, "Habemus papam Martinum," "We have a Martin pope." The emperor hearing thereof, with like haste, came apace, and, falling down, kissed the new pope's feet. Then went they all to the church together, and sang Te Deum.

The next day following, this Martin was made priest, who was before but a cardinal deacon, and the next after was consecrated bishop, and sang his first mass; whereat were present one hundred and forty mitred bishops. After this, the next morrow, the new holy pope ordained a general procession, where a certain clerk was appointed to stand with flax and fire; who, setting the flax on fire, thus said, "Ecce, Pater sancte! sic transit gloria mundi." i. e. "Behold, holy Father! thus vadeth the transitory glory of this world." This done, the same day the holy father was brought up unto a high scaffold, saith the story (I will not say to a high mountain, where was offered to him all the glory of the world), there to be crowned for a triple king. This done, the same day after dinner the new crowned pope was brought with great triumph through the midst of the city of Constance, where all the bishops and abbots followed with their mitres. The pope's horse[3] was all trapped with red scarlet down to the ground. The cardinals' horses were all in white silk; the emperor on the right side, and a prince elector on the left (both playing the pope's footmen), went on foot, leading the pope's horse by the bridle.

As this pageant thus with the great giant proceeded, and came to the market-place, there the Jews, according to the manner, offered to him their law and ceremonies; which the pope receiving, cast behind him, saying, "Recedant Vetera, nova sunt omnia." i. e. "Let old things pass, all things be made new," &c.[4] This was A. D. 1417.

Thus the pope, being now confirmed in his kingdom, first beginneth to write his letters to the Bohemians, wherein partly he moveth them to catholic obedience, partly he dissembleth with them, feigning that if it were not for the emperor's request, he would enter process against them. Thirdly, and finally, he threateneth to attempt the uttermost against them, and with all force to invade them, as well with the apostolic, as also with the secular arm; if they did still persist, as they began.

Albeit, these new threats of the new bishop did nothing move the constant hearts of the Bohemians, whom the inward zeal of Christ's word had before inflamed. And although it had been to be wished, such bloodshed and wars not to have followed; yet to say the truth, how could these Rabbins greatly blame them herein, whom their—bloody tyranny had before provoked so unjustly, if now, with their glozing letters, they could not so easily appease them again?

Wherefore these aforesaid Bohemians, partly for the love of John Huss and Jerome their countrymen, partly for the hatred of their malignant papistry, assembling together, first agreed to celebrate a yearly solcmu memorial of the death of John Huss and Jerome, A yearly memorial of Huss and Jerome kept among the Bohemians.decreeing the same to be holden and celebrated yearly; and afterwards, by and by means of their friends they obtained certain churches of the king, wherein they might freely preach and minister the sacraments unto the Congregation. This done, they suppressed divers monasteries, Pharisaical temples, and idolatrous fanes; beginning, first, with the great monastery of the Black Friars, eight miles from Prague; driving away the wicked and vicious priests and monks out of them, or compelling them unto a better order. And thus their number more and more increasing, under the safe conduct of a certain noble man named Nicholas, they went again unto the king, requiring to have more and ampler churches granted unto them. The king seemed at first willingly and gently to give ear to the said Nicholas entreating for the people, and commanded them to come again the next day.

Wenceslaus threateneth Nicholas.When the people were departed, the king turning himself to the noble man Nicholas, who tarried still behind, said: "Thou hast begun a web to put me out of my kingdom, but I will make a rope of it, wherewithal I will hang thee." Whereupon he immediately departed out of the king's presence, and the king himself went into the castle of Vissegrade, and within awhile after, into a new castle, which he himself had builded five stones' casts from thence; sending ambassadors to his brother to require aid.

These protestants being assembled in the town of Prague, holding their conventions, the king sent forth his chamberlain with three hundred horsemen to run upon them; but he, having respect unto his life, fled. When news thereof was brought unto the king, all that were about him, being amazed, utterly detested the fact; but the king's cupbearer standing by, said, "I knew before, that these things would thus come to pass." Whom the king in a rage taking hold of, threw him down before his feet, and with his dagger would have slain him; but, being letted by those who were about him, with much ado he pardoned him his life. Death of king Wenceslaus.Immediately the king, being taken with a palsy, fell sick, and within eighteen days after, when he had marked the names of such whom he had appointed to be put to death,[5] incessantly calling for aid of his brother and his other friends, he departed this life before the princes, whom he had sent unto, were come with aid, when he had reigned five and fifty years, and was about the age of seven and fifty years. A. D. 1419.

  1. This suffragan was a good man, and held with Huss.
  2. Ex hist. S. Alb. ex paralip. Ursperg.
  3. 'Meretrix equitans super bestiam.' Vid. Apocalyp.
  4. Why then doth the pope keep still the old Jews' ceremonies, if all things be made new?
  5. See the marvellous work of God's judgment, in defending his people.