The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/Council of Basil dissolved

These be the, words of Sylvius.—Furthermore, as touching the authority and approbation of the aforesaid council, this is to be noted, that during the life of Sigismund, the emperor, no man resisted this council. The authority of the council of Basil maintained.
The practice of pope Eugene to undo the council.
Also, during the time of Charles VII., the French king, the said council of Basil was fully and wholly received through all France. But, after the death of Sigismund, when Eugene was deposed, and Felix, duke of Savoy, was elected pope, great discords arose, and much practice was wrought, but especially on Eugene's part; who, being now excommunicated by the council of Basil, to make his party more strong, made eighteen new cardinals. Then he sent his orators unto the Germans, labouring by all persuasions to dissolve the council of Basil. The Germans, at that time, were so divided, that some of them did hold with Felix and the council of Basil; others with Eugene and the council of Ferrara; and some were neuters. Stirreth up war.After this, the French king being dead, who was Charles VII., about A.D. 1444, the pope beginneth a new practice, after the old guise of Rome, to excite, as is supposed, the dauphin of France, by force of arms, to dissipate that council collected against him. Who, leading an army of fifteen thousand men into Alsace, did cruelly waste and spoil the country; and, after that, laid siege unto Basil, to expel and drive out the prelates of the council. The dauphin driven away by a few Germans.But the Helvetians, most stoutly meeting their enemies, with a small power did vanquish the Frenchmen, and put them to sword and away by flight; like as the Lacedemonians, with only three hundred, did suppress and scatter all the mighty army of Xerxes at Thermopylæ. Although Basil, by the valiantness of the Helvetians, was thus defended, yet, notwithstanding, the council, through these tumults, could not continue by reason of the princes' ambassadors, who shrunk away and would not tarry; so that at length Eugene brought to pass, Dissolution of the council of Basil.partly through the help of Frederic (being not yet emperor, but labouring for the empire), partly by his orators (in the number of whom was Æneas Sylvius, above mentioned, amongst the Germans), that they were content to give over, both the council of Basil, and Basil, their neutrality.

Frederic of Austria, great grand-father to this Ferdinand.This Frederic of Austria being not yet emperor, but looking towards the empire, brought also to pass, that Felix, who was chosen of the council of Basil to be pope, was contented to renounce and resign his papacy to Nicholas V., successor to Eugene, by which Nicholas the said Frederic was confirmed at Rome to be emperor, and there crowned, A.D. 1451.

The legates of the Greeks condescend first to the pope's law.As these things were doing at Basil, in the mean season pope Eugene brought to pass, in his convocation at Florence, that the emperor and the patriarch of Constantinople, with the rest of the Grecians there present, were persuaded to receive the sentence of the church of Rome, concerning the proceedings of the Holy Ghost; also to receive the communion in unleavened bread, to admit purgatory, and to yield themselves to the authority of the Romish bishop. Whereunto, notwithstanding, the other churches of Grecia would in no wise assent, at their coming home; insomuch that with a public execration they did condemn, afterwards, all those legates who had consented to these articles, that none of them should be buried in christian burial: which was, A.D. 1439.[1]

And thus endeth the story, both of the council of Basil, and of the council of Florence; also, of the emperor Sigismund, and of the schism between pope Eugene and pope Felix, and also of the Bohemians; which Bohemians, notwithstanding all these troubles and tumults above-said, did right well, and were strong enough against all their enemies, till at length, through discord, partly between the two churches preachers of the old and new city of Prague, partly also through the discord of the messengers and captains taking sides one against the other, they made their enemies strong, and enfeebled themselves. Albeit afterwards, in process of time, they so defended the cause of their religion, not by sword, but by argument and disputation, that the bishop of Rome could never yet to this day remove the Taborites and city of Prague from the communion of both kinds, nor could ever cause them to keep the conditions, which, in the beginning of the council, were enjoined their priests to observe; as testifieth Cochleus:[2] with him also accordeth Antoninus, who saith, that the doctrine of the Bohemians (which he termeth by the name of Zizania), did take such deep root with them, and grew so fast, that afterwards, neither by fire nor sword, it could be extinguished.[3]

Concerning which Bohemians, briefly and in a general sum to recapitulate their whole acts and doings, here is to be noted: that they, in their own defence, and in the quarrel of John Huss and Jerome of Prague, provoked by their catholic adversaries to war, fighting under Zisca their captain, had eleven battles with the pope's side, and ever went away victors.[4] Moreover, in the History of Peucer it is testified that pope Martin V., sending for the bishop of Winchester, then cardinal, had levied three main armies, intending to overrun all the Bohemians; one army of the Saxons under the prince elector; the second of the Francones, under the marquis of Brandenburg; the third of Rhenates, Bavarians, and Switzers, under Octo, archbishop of Treves.[5] With these, Sigismund also, the emperor, and cardinal Julian, the pope's legate (who at last was slain in war, and being spoiled of all his attire, was left naked in the field), joined all their force; who, joining together five times (saith the story), with five sundry battles, assailed and invaded the Bohemians; Marvellous fear fallen upon the pope's every such battle, five times the said adversaries, stricken and daunted with a sudden fear, ran away out of the field, leaving their tents with all their implements and furniture behind them, before any stroke was given;[6] Whereby it may appear that the holy angels of God do fight for them who embrace the sincere doctrine of Christ's gospel.

Thus the Bohemians, through the mighty protection of Almighty God, continued a long time invincible, during all the life of Zisca, and also of Procopius, till, at length, through discord growing between them and their captains Procopius and Mainardus, they were subdued unto their enemies.

Cruelty of Mainardus against the Bohemians.And here by the way is not to be omitted the wicked and cruel fact of Mainardus, who, after the death of Procopius, thinking to purge the realm of Bohemia of those chief and priincipal soldiers, who had been long expert and trained up in wars, found means for a proclamation to be made, as though he would war against other countries of their enemies bordering about them, craftily to train all those who were disposed to take wages, into certain bams or hovels prepared for the same purpose; and so, shutting the doors upon them, the wicked dissembler set fire upon them, and burnt of them divers thousands, and so brought the rest, by that means, under subjection to the emperor during his lifetime, which, after that continued not long;[7] Thousands of the Bohemian soldiers burnt.which soldiers if they had fought as much for the catholic liberties of the pope and his church, as they had fought against him, it is marvel if the pope had not dignified them all for holy martyrs. But they that kill with the sword (saith Christ) shall perish with the sword. Notwithstanding, the cruel deceit of Mainardus is worthy of all men to be detested.[8]

England noted for cruelty.During this business among the bishops beyond the sea, in the mean time our bishops here also in England were not unoccupied. Whether it be the nature of the country that so giveth, or whether the great livings and wealthy promotions of the clergy do draw with them a more insensible untowardness in God's religion, hard it is to say: Burning and slaying in England.this is manifest to all them who will read and mark our stories from time to time, that in England is more burning and slaying for religion and for all other matters; more bloodshed among us, than in any other land or nation in Christendom besides.

  1. Ex Casp. Peucer.
  2. Hist. Hussit. lib. viii.
  3. Anton, iii. part. hist. tit. 22, cap. 10.
  4. Ex Paral. Abb. Ursp. in Epitaphio Joan. Zisc.
  5. Ex hist. Caspari Peucer. lib v.
  6. God's holy angels pitch their tents about them that fear him, Psa. xxxiv.
  7. Ex Ænea. Sylv.
  8. Ib. lib. de hist. Bohem. cap. 15.