The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The letter of the fifty-four nobles of Moravia, written unto the Council of Constance in defence of Master John Huss and Master Jerome of Prague

THE LETTER OF THE FIFTY-FOUR NOBLES OF MORAVIA, WRITTEN UNTO THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE IN DEFENCE OF MASTER JOHN HUSS AND MASTER JEROME OF PRAGUE.

 
To the right reverend Fathers and Lords in Christ, the Lords Cardinals, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, Ambassadors, Doctors and Masters, and to the whole Council of Constance, we the Nobles, Lords, Knights, and Esquires, of the famous Marquisdom of Moravia, wish the desire of all goodness, and the observation of the Commandments of our Lord Jesu Christ.
 

Forasmuch as every man, both by the law of nature, and also by God's law, is commanded to do that unto another man, which he would have done unto himself, and is forbidden to do that thing unto another, which he would not have done unto himself, as our Saviour saith, "All things whatsoever you will that men should do unto you, the same do you unto them, for this is the law and the prophets" [Matt., vii.]; yea, the law is fulfilled in this one point, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" [Rom. xiii.]: we, therefore (God being our author), having respect as much as in us lieth unto the said law of God, and the love of our neighbour, before did send our letters unto Constance for our dearly beloved friend of good memory, Master John Huss, bachelor of divinity, and preacher of the gospel; whom of late, in the council of Constance (we know not with what spirit being led), you have condemned as an obstinate heretic; neither having confessed any thing, neither being lawfully convicted as were expedient; having no errors or heresies declared or laid against him, but only at the sinister, false, and importune accusations, suggestions, and instigations of his mortal enemies, and the traitors of our kingdom and marquisdom of Moravia. And being thus unmercifully condemned, you have slain him with most shameful and cruel death, to the perpetual shame and infamy of our most christian kingdom of Bohemia, and the famous marquisdom of Moravia (as we have written unto Constance, unto the most noble prince and lord, the lord Sigismund, king of Romans and of Hungary, the heir and successor of our kingdoms, which was also read and published in your congregations, which we will here also have enrolled), and have burned him, as it is reported, in reproach and contempt of us.

The cause of John Huss cleared bz the testimony of the nobles of Bohemia.Wherefore we have thought good even now to direct our letters patent to your reverences now present in the behalf of Master John Huss; openly professing and protesting, both with heart and mouth, that he, the said Master John Huss, was a just, good, and catholic man, and, a long season, worthily commended and allowed in our kingdom for his life and conversation. He also preached and taught us and our subjects the law of the gospel, and of the holy prophets, and the books of the Old and New Testament, according to the exposition of the holy doctors approved by the church, and left many monuments in writing, most constantly detesting and abhorring all errors and heresies; continually admonishing both us and all faithful Christians to do the like; diligently exhorting all men as much as in him lay, by his words, writings, and travail, unto quietness and concord: so that using all the diligence that we might, we never heard or could understand, that Master John Huss had preached, taught, or by any means affirmed any error or heresy in his sermons, or that by any manner of means he had offended us, or our subjects, either by word or deed; but that he always led a quiet and a godly life in Christ,[1] exhorting all men diligently, both by his word and works, as much as he might, to observe and keep the law of the gospel, and the institutions of the holy fathers, after the preaching of our holy mother the church, and to the edifying of men's souls. Neither did these premises which you had so perpetrated to the reproach both of us and our kingdom and marquisdom, suffice and content you, but that also, without all mercy and piety, you have apprehended, imprisoned, and condemned, and even now, peradventure, like as you did Master John Huss, you have most cruelly murdered the worshipful man. Master Jerome of Prague; Defence of Jerome of Prague.a man abounding in eloquence, master of the seven liberal arts, and a famous philosopher; not being seen, heard, examined, neither convicted, but only at the sinister and false accusations of his and our accusers and betrayers.

Furthermore, it is come to our knowledge and understanding (which we do not without great grief rehearse), as we may also evidently gather by your writings, how that certain detractors, odious both to God and men, privy enviers and betrayers, have wickedly and grievously, albeit falsely and traitorously, accused us, our kingdom and marquisdom aforesaid, before you in your council; that in the said kingdom of Bohemia, and marquisdom of Moravia, divers errors are sprung up, which have grievously and manifoldly infected both our hearts, and also the hearts of many faithful men; insomuch that without a speedy stop or stay of correction, the said kingdom and marquisdom, together with the faithful Christians therein, should incur an irreparable loss and ruin of their souls.

These cruel and pernicious injuries which are laid unto us and to our said kingdom and marquisdom, albeit most falsely and slanderously, how may we suffer? forasmuch as through tho grace of God (when in a manner all other kingdoms of the world have oftentimes wavered, making schisms and antipopes),[2] our most gracious kingdom of Bohemia, and most noble marquisdom of Moravia, since the time they did receive the catholic faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a most perfect quadrant,[3] have always, without reproof, stuck upon the church of Rome, and have sincerely done their true obedience. Also with how great costs and charges, and great travail, with what worship and due reverence, they have reverenced the holy mother the church and her pastors, by their princes and faithful subjects, it is more manifest than the day-light unto the whole world; and yourselves, if you will confess the truth, can witness the same also.

Wherefore, that we, according to the mind of the apostle, may procure honest and good things, not only before God, but before men also; and lest, by neglecting the famous renown of the kingdom and marquisdom, we be found cruel toward our neighbours; having a steadfast hope, a pure and sincere conscience and intent, and a certain true faith in Christ Jesu our Lord, by the tenor of these we signify and declare unto your fatherhoods, and to all faithful Christians; openly professing both with heart and mouth, that whatsoever man, of what estate, pre-eminence, dignity, condition, degree, or religion soever he be, who hath said, or affirmed, either doth say or affirm, that in the said kingdom of Bohemia, and marquisdom of Moravia, heresies have sprung up which have infected us and other faithful Christians, as is aforesaid (the only person of our most noble prince and lord, Sigismund, king of Romans, and of Hungary, &c., our lord and heir successor, being set apart, whom we trust and believe, not to be guilty in the premises), all and every such man, as is aforesaid, doth lie falsely upon his head, as a wicked and naughty traitor and betrayer of the said kingdom and marquisdom, and most traitorous unto us, and most pernicious heretic, the son of all malice and wickedness, yea, and of the devil himself, who is a liar, and the father of all lies. [John viii.]

These noblemen offered their obedience to the pope, no further than was lawful, honest, and agreeable to reason and the law of God. Mark this and learn, you noblemen.Notwithstanding we, for this present, committing the aforesaid injuries to God, unto whom vengeance pertaineth, who will also abundantly reward the workers of iniquity [Deut. xxxviii.; Psal. XXX.], will prosecute them more amply before him, whom God shall appoint in the apostolic see, to govern his holy church, as the only and undoubted pastor. Unto whom, God willing, we exhibiting our due reverence and obedience as faithful children, in those thing's which are lawful, honest, and agreeable to reason and the law of God, will make our request and petition, that speedy remedy may be provided for us, our said kingdom and marquisdom, upon the premises, according to the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the institutions of the holy fathers. The premises notwithstanding, we, setting apart all fear and men's ordinances provided to the contrary, will maintain and defend the law of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the devout, humble and constant preachers thereof, even to the shedding of our blood.

Dated at Sternberg, in the year of our Lord 1415, upon the day of St. Wenceslaus, martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 
Round about the said letters there were fifty-four seals hanging, and their names subscribed, whose seals they were. The names of which noblemen I thought it good here to annex withal, partly for the more credit of that which hath been said, partly also for example's sake, to the intent that our noblemen and gentlemen in this our realm of England, now living in this clear light of the gospel, may, by their example, understand, that if they join themselves with the gospel of Jesus, zealously, and as they should do, yet are they neither the first nor the most that so have done before them: if not, yet the truth may here remain in the story to their shame, or else to their instruction, seeing so many noble and worthy gentlemen, within the small kingdom of Bohemia, to be so forward in those so dark days, and among so many enemies, tAvo hundred years ago, to take part with Christ; and yet our gentlemen here in such long continuance of time, being so diligently taught, are neither in number nor in zeal to them to be compared, but will still take part, contrary both to Christ, and to the example of these nobles, whose names they may see and read here following:
 

1. Alssokabat de Wiscowitz.
2. Ulricus de Lhota.
3. Joan. de Ksimicz.
4. Jossko de Sczitowcz.
5. Pærdus Zwiranowicz.
6. Joan. de Ziwla.
7. Joan. de Reychenberg.
8. Wildo Skitzyny.
9. Diliko de Biela.
10. Kos de Doloylatz.
11. Joan, de Simusin.
12. Dobessinius de Tissa.
13. Drazko de Aradeck.
14. Steph. de Hmodorkat.
15. Joan. Dern de Gabonecx.
16. Barso dictus Hloder de Zeinicz.
17. Joan. Hmrsdorfar.
18. Psateska de Wilklek.
19. Petrus Mog. de Sczitowicy.
20. N. Studenica.
21. N. Brischell.
22. N. de Cromassona.
23. Arannisic Donant de Polonia.
24. Joan. Donant de Polonia.
25. Joan. de Cziczow.
26. Wenceslaus de N.
27. N. de N.
28. N. N.
29. Josseck de N.
30. Henricus de N.
31. Waczlas de kuck.
32. Henr. de Zrenowicz.
33. Baczko de Convald.
34. Petr. dictus Nienick de Zaltoroldeck.
35. Czenko de Mossnow.
36. N.
37. Zibilutz de Clezam.
38. Joannes de Paterswald.
39. Parsifal de Namyescz.
40. Zodoni de Zwietzick.
41. Raczeck Zawskalp.
42. Jon de Tossawicz.
43. Diwa de Spissnia.
44. Steffko de Draczdw.
45. Issko de Draczdw.
46. Odich de Hlud.
47. Wosfart de Paulowicz.
48. Pirebbor de Tyrezenicz.
49. Rynard de Tyrczewicz.
50. Bohunko de Wratisdow.
51. Ulricus de Racdraw.
52. Deslaw de Nali.
53. Bonesb de Frabrenicz.
54. Eybl de Roissowan.

 
  1. "All that will live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution." 2 Tim. iii.
  2. He meaneth the long schism spoken of before, where three popes were striving one against another.
  3. A quadrant, being four square, proverbially signifieth a man that is constant and immutable.