The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Copy of the Letters which John Huss set up in the common places of the Cities which he passed through, going to the Council

The Copy of the Letters which John Huss set up in the common places of the Cities which he passed through, going to the Council.
Master John Huss goeth now unto Constance, there to declare his faith which he hath hitherto holden, and even at this present doth hold, and by God's help will defend and keep even unto death. Therefore, even as he hath manifested throughout all the kingdom of Bohemia by his letters and intimations, willing before his departure to have satisfied and given an account of his faith unto every man, who should object or lay any thing against him in the general convocation holden in the archbishop of Prague's court: so likewise he doth manifest and signify, that if there be any man in this noble and imperial city, who will impute or lay any error or heresy unto him, that he should prepare himself to come unto the council, forasmuch as the said Master John Huss is ready to satisfy every man at the said council, who shall lay any thing unto his charge as touching his faith.

How John Huss was received by the way, going up to the council.In all cities as he passed by, and principally when he was departed out of Bohemia and entered into Almain, a great number of people huss did come unto him, and he was very gently received and entertained by his hosts through all the towns of Germany, and especially by the citizens and burgesses, and oftentimes by the curates; insomuch that to the the said Huss did confess, in a certain epistle, that he found in no place so great enemies as in Bohemia. And if it happened that there were any bruit or noise before of his coming, the streets were always full of people who were desirous to see John Huss, and gratify[1] him; and, amongst all others, especially at Nuremberg, where certain merchants who went before, and certified the citizens of his coming. In the same city there were many curates who came unto him, desiring him that they might talk with him secretly apart, unto whom he answered: That he loved much rather to pronounce and show forth his mind and opinion openly before all men, than in hugger-mugger, for he would keep nothing close or hidden. So, after dinner, until it was night, he spake before the priests, senators, and divers other citizens, A charter-house monk against John Huss.insomuch that they all had him in great estimation and reverence, one only doctor excepted, who was a charter-house monk, and the curate of St. Sebauld, who did improve[2] all that he had said.

The twentieth day after that he departed out of the town of Prague, which was the third day of November, he came unto Constance, John Huss's hostess, named Faith.and lodged at an honest matron's house, being a widow named Faith, in St. Galle's-street.

The morrow after, the gentleman. Master John de Clum, and Master Henry Latzemboge, went to speak with the pope, and certified him that John Huss was come, whom they had brought to Constance to the general council, under the emperor's safe conduct; desiring him also that he, on his part, would grant the said John Huss liberty to remain in Constance, The pope consenteth to the safe-conduct of John Huss.without any trouble, vexation, or interruption. Unto whom the pope answered, That albeit John Huss had killed his brother, yet would he go about, as much as in him lay, that no outrage or hurt should be done unto him during his abode in the town of Constance.

Huss's enemy going to Constance, dieth by the way.In the meantime, the greatest adversary that John Huss had, named Master Steven Paletz, who was also a Bohemian born, was come unto Constance. But his companion, Master Stanislaus Znoyma, was not yet passed the borders of Bohemia when he was stricken with imposthume,[3] whereof he died. As soon as the said Paletz was come to Constance, he did associate unto him one Michael de Causis,Steven Paletz and Michael de Causis chief enemies to Huss. who had before falsely accused and blamed the said John Huss. And this may not be forgotten, that the said Paletz, had been familiarly conversant and acquainted with the said John Huss from his youth upward; but after that there was a bull brought unto Prague, from pope John XXIII., against the king of Apulia, named Ladislaus, the said John Huss withstood it openly, forasmuch as he saw that it was wicked and nought.

And as touching the said Paletz, albeit he had confessed at a certain banquet, in the presence of the said John Huss, that the said bull was contrary to all equity and right, yet notwithstanding, forasmuch as he was obliged and bound unto the pope by means of certain benefices received at his hand, he maintained and defended the said bull against John Huss: and this was the cause of the discord and falling out between them. As for Michael de Causis, the companion of Master Paletz, he was sometime the curate of New Prague; but he, not being content therewith, but seeking after a further prey, dreamed and imagined out a new device how to attain unto it, for he made a semblance that he had found out a new invention or mean, whereby the mines of gold in Gilory, which were perished and lost, might be renewed and set to work again. By this means he did so much with the king Winceslaus, that he did put a great sum of money into his hands, to do that withal which he had promised.

This honest man, after he had laboured and travailed certain days about it, and perceiving that he brought nothing to pass, and that by that means he was utterly in despair of his purpose, Huss's enemies describedconveyed himself privily out of the realm of Bohemia with the rest of the money, and withdrew himself, as a worthy bird for such a nest, to the court of Rome. Such a man, of such conditions, was easily corrupted with money, and that, by the adversaries of the said Huss, and promised them to do what he could for them, which he did shortly after. These two jolly roisters, Steven Paletz, and Michael de Causis, drew out certain articles against the said Huss,The enemies of Huss practice against him. saying, that they had gathered them out of his own writings, and especially out of his treatise which he had written of the church. They trotted up and down, hither and thither, taking great pains to show the said articles unto the cardinals, bishops, and monks, and such others of that sort, doing them also to understand, that there were other matters of greater importance, which the said John Huss had committed and done against the holy constitutions, and other ordinances of the pope and the church; which, if need were, they said they would propound before the council. Through the kindling of this their fire, they did so incense the cardinals and all the priests, that all they, with one mind and consent, thought to cause the good man to be taken and laid hands on.

The twenty-sixth day after the said Huss was come to Constance, (during all which time he was occupied in reading, writing, and familiar talk with his friends), the cardinals, through the instigation and motion of Paletz, and Michael de Causis, sent two bishops, to wit, the bishop of Augusta, and of Trent, and with them the borough-master of the town of Constance, and a certain knight, to the place where John Huss lodged, about dinner-time; who should make report unto him that they were sent by the pope and his cardinals, to advertise him that he should come to render some knowledge or witness of his doctrine before them, as he had oftentimes desired, and that they were ready to hear him.

John Huss desires to plead his cause before the whole council.Unto whom John Huss answered, "I am not come for any such intent, as to defend my cause particularly before the pope and his cardinals, protesting that I never desired any such thing, but that I would willingly appear before the whole assembly of the council, and there answer for my defence openly, without any fear or doubt, unto all such things as shall be demanded or required of me. Notwithstanding, said he, forasmuch as you require me so to do, I will not refuse to go with you before the cardinals; and if it happen that they evil entreat or handle me, yet, nevertheless, I trust in my Lord Jesus, that he will so comfort and strengthen me, that I shall desire much rather to die for his glory's sake, than to deny the verity and truth which I have learned by his holy Scriptures." Wherefore it came to pass, that the bishops being instant upon him, and not showing any outward semblance that they bare any malice or hatred against him in their hearts (albeit they had privily laid garrisons both in the house where they were assembled, and also in other houses), John Huss took his horse which he had at his lodging, and went unto the court of the pope and the cardinals.

He comes before the pope and the cardinals.When he was come thither, and had saluted the cardinals, they began to speak to him in this sort: "We have heard many reports of you, which, if they be true, are in no case to be suffered; for men say that you have taught great and manifest errors, and contrary and against the doctrine of the true church; and that you have sowed your errors abroad through all the realm of Bohemia, by a long space or time; wherefore we have caused you to be called hither before us, that we might understand and know how the matter standeth."

Answer of John Huss to the pope and the cardinals.Unto whom John Huss answered in few words: "Reverend fathers! you shall understand that I am thus minded and affectioned, the I should rather choose to die, than I should be found culpable of one only error, much less of many and great errors. For this cause I am the more willingly come unto the general council which is here appointed, to show myself ready, even with all my heart, to receive correction, if any man can prove any errors in me." The cardinals answered him again, that his sayings pleased them very well; and upon that they went away, leaving the said John Huss with Master John de Clum, under the guard and keeping of the armed men.

Dolus malus cardinalium.In the mean season, they did suborn and furnish out a certain divine, a friar Franciscan, a subtle and crafty man, and a malicious hypocrite, to question with the said John Huss, who was compassed round about with armed men. This man drawing near in his monkish gesture, said, A friar minor putteth two questions to John Huss."Reverend master! I, a simple and rude idiot, am come unto you to learn; for I have heard many strange and contrary things against the catholic faith to be ascribed unto you, which do diversely move my mind, being wholly inclined to the truth. Wherefore I do desire you, even for the love which you bear unto the truth, and to all good and godly men, that you would teach me, most simple and miserable man, some certainty and truth. And first, men say, that you hold opinion that, after the consecration and pronunciation of the words in the sacrament of the altar, there remaineth only material bread." John Huss answered, that it was falsely attributed and imputed unto him. Then said he, "I pray you, is not this your opinion?" "No verily," said John Huss, "I do not so think of it." When the monk asked this question the third time, Master John de Clum speaketh for John Huss.Master Master John de Clum being moved somewhat with him, said, "Why art thou so importunate upon him? Verily, if any man had affirmed or denied any thing unto me but once, I would have believed him. And though, albeit he hath showed thee his mind so often, yet ceasest not to trouble him." Then said the monk, "Gentle master! I pray you pardon me a poor idiot and simple friar; surely I did it of a good mind and intent, being willing and desirous to learn."A friarly Judas. This friar put forth another question unto him, protesting his simplicity and ignorance: "What manner of unity of the godhead and manhood was in the person of Christ?" When John Huss had heard this question, he, turning himself unto Master John de Clum, in the Bohemian language said: A wolf in a lamb's skin."Truly this friar is not simple, as he doth pretend, for he hath propounded unto me a very hard question." And afterwards, turning himself to the friar, he said unto him, "Brother! you say that you are simple, but as I have heard of you, I perceive very well that you are double and crafty, and not simple." "It is not so, verily," said the friar. "Well," said John Huss, " I will cause you well to understand that it is so. For as touching the simplicity of a man, it is required in things that concern civility and manners, that the spirit, the understanding, the heart, the words, and the mouth, should agree together: and I do not perceive that this is in you. There is in your mouth a certain semblance of simplicity, which would very well declare you to be an idiot and simple, but your deeds show plainly and evidently a great subtlety and craft in you, with a great quickness and liveliness of wit, in that you have proponed unto me so hard and difficult a question. Notwithstanding, I will not fear to show you my mind in this question." And when he had made an end, the monk gave him great thanks for his gentleness, and so departed. After that, the pope's garrison which was about the said John Huss, told him, Didace, a crafty friar. Many a man beguiled under a cloak of simplicity.that this friar was called Master Didace, who was esteemed and counted the greatest and most subtle divine in all Lombardy. "Oh!" said John Huss, "that I had known that before; I would have handled him after another sort and fashion: but I would to God they were all such; then, through the help and aid of the holy Scriptures, I would fear none of them."

In this manner the said Huss and Master John de Clum were left under the keeping of these men of arms, until four of the clock in the afternoon. After that time the cardinals assembled again in the popes court, to devise and take counsel what they should do with John Huss. Then Stephen Paletz and Michael de Causis, with divers others of their adherents, made earnest suit that he should not be let go at liberty again, The accusers of John Huss triumph over him when he is taken.and having the favour of the judges on their part, they bragged up and down in a manner as they had been mad men, and mocked the said John Huss, saying, "Now we will hold thee well enough; thou art under our power and jurisdiction, and shalt not depart until such time as thou has paid the uttermost farthing."

A little before night, they sent the provost of the Roman court unto Master John de Clum, to show him that he might return to his lodging; but as for John Huss, they had otherwise provided for him. When Master John de Clum heard this news, he was wonderfully displeased, forasmuch as through their crafts, subtleties, and glosing words, they had so trained this good man into their snares; whereupon he went unto the pope, declaring unto him all that was done; most humbly beseeching him, that he would call to remembrance the promise which he had made unto him and Master Henry Latzemboge, and that he would not so lightly falsify and break his faith and promise. The pope breaketh promise.The pope answered, that all these things were done without his consent or commandment; and said further to Master Clum apart, "What reason is it that you should impute this deed unto me, seeing that you know well enough that I myself am in the hands of these cardinals and bishops?"

The pope, to please the council, is against John Huss.In mine opinion, forasmuch as pope John feared that which indeed did after follow, that he should be deprived of his dignity, he thought to win the favour of these Herodian cardinals and bishops, by betraying this good man unto them. So the said Master Clum returned very pensiveful and sorry; he complained very sore, both privily and openly, of the injury and outrage that the pope had done; but all profited nothing. After this, the said John Huss was led by the officers to the chapter-house of the great church of Constance, where he was kept prisoner for the space of eight days; from thence he was carried unto the Jacobines, hard by the river Rhine, and was shut up in the prison of the abbey, which was hard by the Bogardes.

Imprisonment and sickness of John Huss.After he had been enclosed there a certain time, he fell sore sick of an ague, by means of the stench of the place, and became so weak, that they despaired of his life. And for fear lest this good man should die in prison, as others are wont to do, the pope sent unto him certain of his physicians to cure and help him. In the midst of his sickness liis accusers made importunate suit to the principals of the council, that the said John Huss might be condemned, and presented unto the pope these articles here under-written:

  1. "Gratify him," do him a good turn. Bailey's Etym. Dict.—Ed.
  2. "Improve," speak against,—Ed.
  3. "Imposthume, " a gathering of humours and swellings upon the body.—Ed.