The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Entry of the memorable History of the Bohemians, containing the History of Master John Huss, no less famous than lamentable

The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, Volume 3 by John Foxe, edited by Stephen Reed Cattley
The Entry of the memorable History of the Bohemians, containing the History of Master John Huss, no less famous than lamentable


Here followeth the History of Master John Huss,


The Bohemians receiving the gospel.I declared a little before, how, by the occasion of queen Anne, who was a Bohemian, and married to king Richard II., the Bohemians coming thereby to the knowledge of Wickliff's books here in England, Henry began first to taste and favour Christ's gospel, till at length, by the preaching of John Huss, they increased more and more in knowledge, insomuch that pope Alexander V.The pope against them. hearing thereof, began at last to stir coals, and directeth his bull to the archbishop of Swinco, requiring him to look to the matter, and to provide that no person in churches, schools, or other places, should maintain that doctrine; citing also John Huss cited by the pope.John Huss to appear before him. To whom the said John answering again, declared that mandate or bull of the pope utterly to repugn against the manifest examples and doings both of Christ and of his apostles, and to be prejudicial to the liberty of the gospel, in binding the word of God not to have free course; and, John Huss appealeth from the pope to the pope.therefore, from this mandate of the pope he appealed to the same pope better advised. But, while he was prosecuting his appeal, pope Alexander died, as is aforesaid.[2]

After Alexander succeeded pope John XXIII., who also, playing his part here in this matter like a pope, sought by all means possible how to repress and keep under the Bohemians, first beginning to work his malice upon the aforesaid John Huss,John Huss accused to pope John. their preacher, who at the same time preaching at Prague in the temple of Bethlehem, because he seemed rather willing to teach the gospel of Christ, than the traditions of bishops, was therefore accused of certain, to the beforenamed pope John XXIII., for a heretic. The bishop committed the whole matter to cardinal de Columna; who, when he had heard the accusation, appointed a day to John Huss, that he should appear in the court of Rome: which thing once done, Wenceslaus, king of the Romans, and of Bohemia, at the request specially of his wife Sophia, and of the whole nobility of Bohemia, as also at the earnest suit and desire of the town and university of Prague, sent his ambassadors to Rome, to desire the bishop to quit and clearly deliver John Huss from that sentence and judgment; and that if the bishop did suspect the kingdom of Bohemia to be infected with any heretical or false doctrine, he should send his ambassadors, who might correct and amend the same, if there be any error or fault in them; and that all this should be done at the sole cost and charges of the king of Bohemia: and to promise in his name, that he would aid and assist the bishop's legates with all his power and authority, to punish all such as should be taken or found in any erroneous doctrine. In the mean season, also, John Huss, before his day appointed, sent his lawful and meek procurators unto the court of Rome, and with most firm and strong reasons did prove his innocency; whereupon he so trusted, that he thought he should have easily obtained, that he should not have been compelled, by reason of the great danger, to appear the day appointed. But, when the cardinal de Columna, unto whose will and judgment the whole matter was committed, would not admit any defence or excuse, John Huss's procurators appealed unto the high bishop: yet, notwithstanding, this last refuge did not so much prevail with cardinal de Columna, but that he would openly excommunicate John Huss as an obstinate heretic, because he came not at his day appointed to Rome.

Notwithstanding, forasmuch as his procurators had appealed unto the high bishop, they had other judges appointed unto them, as cardinal Aquileianus and cardinal Venetus, with certain others; which judges, after they had prolonged and deferred the matter for the space of a year and a half, at last returned to the sentence and judgment of Henry cardinal dc Columna, and, confirming the same, commanded John Huss's procurators, that they should leave off to defend him any more, for they would suffer it no longer: whereupon, when his procurators would not cease their instant suit, certain of them were cast into prison, and grievously punished; the others, leaving their business undone, returned into Bohemia.

The Bohemians against the pope and his doings.The Bohemians, notwithstanding, little cared for all this; but, continuing still, as they grew more in knowledge, so the less they regarded the pope, complaining daily against him and the archbishop for stopping the word of God, and the gospel of Christ to be preached, saying, that by their indulgences, and other practices of the court of Rome, and of the bishop's consistory, they sought their own profit, and not that of Jesus Christ; that they plucked from the sheep of Christ the wool and milk, and did not feed them, either with the word of God, or with good examples. Teaching, moreover, and affirming, that the commandments of the pope and prelates are not to be obeyed, but so far as they follow the doctrine and life of Christ and of his apostles; and that lay-men ought to judge the works of prelates, as Paul judged the works of Peter in correcting him [Gal. ii.]. Furthermore, they had amongst them certain notes and observations, whereby they might discern how far, and wherein, they might obey their prelates; they derided also and scorned the pope's jurisdiction, because of the schism that was then in the church, when there were three popes together, one striving against another for the papacy.[3]

Over and besides this, at the same time John Huss did propound publicly, and by the notaries caused to be written, Three doubts of John Huss propoundedthree doubtful questions, the tenor whereof followeth here word for word, and is this; "Forasmuch," saith he, "as it is good for men being in doubt to ask counsel, whereby all dubitation removed, they may be able more firmly to adhere to the truth; three doubts arise here to be solved: The first doubt is. Whether we ought to believe in the pope? The second. Whether it be possible for any man to be saved, who confesseth not with his mouth unto a mortal priest? The third doubt is, Whether any of the doctors do hold or say, that some of Pharaoh's host being drowned in the Red Sea, and of the Sodomites being subverted, be saved?

As concerning the first, he did hold negatively, alleging the saying of Bede upon this place of the apostle, Credere in Deum. Credere Deo. Credere Deum."To him that believeth upon him which justifieth the wicked, his faith is imputed to righteousness" [Rom. iv.]. Upon this place saith Bede, "Aliud est credere in Deum, aliud credere Deo, aliud credere Deum," &c. "The second doubt" saith he, "the master of the sentences[4] doth answer, lib. iv. dist. 17. cap. 11, in these words, 'What is then to be holden or said herein? Certes, that without the confessionAgainst avarice confession of the mouth, and assoiling of the outward pain, sins be forgiven through contrition and humility of the heart,'" &c. For the third doubt he brought in the words of St. Jerome upon the prophet Nahum, speaking of the Egyptians destroyed in the sea, and of the Sodomites destroyed with fire, and of the Israelites destroyed in the desert. "Know you," saith Jerome, "that God, therefore, punished them for their sins here temporally, because they should not be punished hereafter perpetually; and therefore, because they were here punished, they shall not be punished hereafter, for else the Scripture should lie, which is not to be granted." These three questions belike John Huss did bring in, to declare how the doctors do not agree in all things, neither with the church of Rome, nor are to be followed in all points by all men.

It followeth, moreover, after the death of the archbishop Swinco above mentioned, that one named Conrad was placed by the pope there to be chief general, which Conrad, conferring with the divines and doctors of the university of Prague, required their advices and counsels, what way they might best take to assuage the dissensions and discords between the clergy and the people: whereupon a certain council was devised to be holden after this sort and manner, as followeth:

Council of the Prelates of Prague against the Gospellers.

I. That all doctors and masters of the university of Prague should be assembled in the court of the archbishop, and that, in his presence, every doctor

and master should swear, not to hold or maintain any of the forty-five articles of John Wicliff before condemned.

II. Item, Concerning the seven sacraments of the church, the keys and censures of the church, the manners, rites, ceremonies, customs, and liberties of the church, concerning also the worshipping of relics and indulgences, the orders and religions of the church, that every one shall swear that he doth hold, believe, and maintain, and will maintain, as doth the church of Rome, and no otherwise, of which church of Rome the pope is the head, and the college of cardinals is the body, who are the true and manifest successors of blessed St. Peter, prince of the apostles, and of the college of the other apostles of Christ.

III. Item, That every one shall swear, that in every catholic matter belonging to the church, he will stand to the determination of the apostolical see, and that he will obey the prelates in all manner of things, Purum bonum: purum malum medium.wheresoever the thing, which is pure good, is not forbidden, or that which is mere ill, is not commanded; but is mean and indifferent between both: which mean or indifferent thing, yet, notwithstanding, by circumstances of time, place or person, may be either good or evil.

IV. Item, That every one shall swear and confess by his oath, that the opinions of Wickliff and others, touching the seven sacraments of the church, and other things above notified, being contrary to the said church of Rome, be false.

V. Item, That an oath be required of them all, that none of them shall hold, defend or maintain any of the forty-five articles of John Wickliff aforesaid, or in any other matter catholic, and especially of the seven sacraments and other articles above specified, but only as doth the churcli of Rome, and no otherwise.

VI. Item, That every ordinary in his diocese shall cause the said premises, contained in the first, second, third, and fourth articles aforesaid, to be published in his synods, and by his preachers to be declared to the people in the kingdom of Bohemia.

VII. Item, If any clerk, student, or lay-man shall withstand any of the premises, that the ordinary have authority, if he be convicted thereof, to correct him according to the old laws and canons, and that no man shall defend such an one by any means; for none but the ordinary hath power to correct such a man, because the archbishop is chancellor both of the kingdom and university of Prague.

VIII. Item, That the songs lately forbidden, being odious, slanderous, and offensive to others' fame, be not sung either in streets, taverns, or any other place.

IX. Item, That Master John Huss shall not preach so long as he shall have no absolution of the court, neither shall hinder the preaching in Prague by his presence; that by this, his obedience to the apostolical see may be known.

X. Item, That this council doth appear to be good and reasonable for the putting away of ill report and dissension that is in the kingdom of Bohemia.

XI. Item, If Master John IIuss with his accomplices will perform this, which is contained in the four former articles, then we will be ready to say as they would wish us and have us, whensoever need shall require, that we do agree with them in matter of faith: otherwise, if they will not so do, we, in giving this testimony, should lie greatly unto our lord the king and the whole world. And moreover, we will be content to write for them to the court of Rome, and do the best we can for them, our honours saved.

This counsel and device being considered amongst the heads of the university of Prague, the aforesaid administrator, named Conrad, presented it to the king and to the barons of the realm, and also to the senate of Prague; whereof, as soon as word came to John Huss and his adherents, they likewise drew out other articles in manner and form of a council, as followeth:

  1. The Title is from the First Edition.
  2. Ex Cochlaeo in Hist. Hussit.
  3. Ex Cochlæo in Hist. Hussit. iib. I.
  4. Pet. Lumb.