The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Jerome of Prague

JEROME OF PRAGUE, a Bohemian religious reformer, born in Prague about 1375, burned at Constance, May 30, 1416. After graduating at Prague he visited the universities of Cologne, Heidelberg, Paris, and Oxford. Returning to Paris, he preached boldly in favor of reforms in the church, defending his views in a disputation held with Gerson, chancellor of the university. He was employed by Ladislas II. of Poland to organize the university of Cracow. About 1402 he began to disseminate secretly the doctrines of Wycliffe in Bohemia, and in 1408 openly identified his views with those of Huss. He was imprisoned for a time at Vienna, and only released through the earnest entreaty of his Bohemian friends. When Huss was imprisoned at Constance in 1414, Jerome went thither in accordance with a promise to defend him; but because of the rumor that Huss would only be tried to be executed, he fled to Ueberlingen, whence he intimated his willingness to appear before the council under a safe-conduct. An equivocal answer being given, he prepared to return to Prague, but was arrested by order of the count palatine of Neuburg-Sulzbach, and delivered over to the council, May 23, 1415. He was several times brought to trial, but his learning and power of debate enabled him to answer all arguments urged against him. On his third examination, Sept. 23, he made a qualified recantation of his views as to the sacrament. After being imprisoned for several months, he was again brought before the council, May 26, 1416, and solemnly retracted his late admission of error. This hastened his condemnation, and he was burned at the stake, meeting his fate with courage. His life has been written by Heller (Tübingen, 1835), and by Becker (Nördlingen, 1858).