The History of the Bohemian Persecution/Chapter 5

The History of the Bohemian Persecution  (1650)  by Johan Amos Comenius, translated by Anonymous
Chapter 5


The first witnesses unto the truth against the Papacy in Bohemia.

1.  FOr when in these times (as Histories testifie) the Pope of Rome, having usurped domination over other Churches, would have had the rites & ceremonies of his will-worship, every where received and kept, it happened that such things as were offensive unto the minds of the Godly, were obtruded upon the Bohemians also; but most especially the use of the Latine tongue in the Ordinances, the unmarriageable estate of the Clergy, and the maiming of the Eucharist by debarring the people of the cup in that Sacrament. Of which it will not be tedious or in vain here to recite what we find expressed in our Annals; because they were the first incitements unto the Bohemians and as it were the first sparks, which afterward (in the time of Husse) burst out into open flame.

2. In the yeare 965 when Boleslaus Pius had founded Episcopacy at Prague, was chosen Bishop, and confirmed by Hatto Arch-Bishop of Maguntium, Dethmar the Saxon then Pope of Rome, instituted a form of Church-government, expressely charging that none should any whit decline from the rites ceremonies and Roman canting, by him prescribed; which the Bohemians took very ill, for that the use of their native language was taken from them. Now therefore Dethmar the the Bishop shortly after dying in the same year,and Woytich his successours having freed Rome from the whirle wind of persecution; two of the Clergy Bolehost and Mistibor with four others viz. Krzwan, Rosislaw, Waymire, aud Iarek, were sent to Rome unto the Pope in the year 977, for to act with him both for the return of the Bishop, and restoring unto them the use of their mother tongue, in the Ordinances, who (as the Annals tell us) did both obtain their desires of the Pope, and had sent them from the bishop a form of prayers writ in their natural language, which is yet extant.

3. But when their successours, by reason of certain inhibitions issuing from Rome, suffered the use of their naturall language again to fall, Wratislaus Duke of bohemia (who shortly after for his heroick acts, and deserts in the Roman Empire, was created King) sent Ambassadors to Rome, and by them requested of Gregory the 7. a confirmation of the liberty heretofore solemnly granted unto them. But what he obtained is manifest iu Hajecius (a Popish-writer) who fully sets down Pope Gregory’s answer page, 136. which translated out of the bohemian language (for the Latine version, is not extant, or not to us) is as followeth.

Gregory the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Wratislaus Duke of bohemia, health and Apostolicall benediction. Amongst other Petitions your Highnesse by letters hath requested of us, that we would permit you to exercise divine service in the free use of the Slavonian tongue. Know therefore beloved son, that we cannot by any meanes grant your Petition. Because frequently meditating upon the Scripture, we find that it hath been, and is well pleasing to the Omnipotent God, that divine worship be performed in an unknown tongue, least it be understood by every one, and promiscuously, espceially by the more ruae and ignorant, for if it should be openly and commonly talked of by all, it would easily come into contempt and disdain, or if it could not be understood by some of the middle sors of men, by their often repetition, and not understanding thereof, error (what not) may easily be hatcht, which would hardly be rooted out of the hearts of men. Nor can it bee pretended, that the simpler sort were sometimes a little indulg’d, especially after their conversion. True indeed, at the desires of sincere and ignorant people, indulgencies were grantod in the primitive church; but in regard it was found, that many evills even heresies, have had their rise from thence, Christian order being now established, it is not convenient to connive at it. And therefore it cannot be granted, what your people doth so earnestly but inconsiderately desire, and this we forbid in the power of God and most blessed Peter, exhorting thee also by the honor of the omnipotent God, to withstand by all means such like vain rashnesse yea we command thee. Dated at Rome, anno 1079.

4. Loe here a Cover worthy the Dish! for Histories do term this Gregory (alias Hildebrand) an ungodly man, a Magician, a vehement firebrand of the warres in Europe: Could therefore any thing of truth or holiness be expected from him? But time it was, to punish the worlds ingratitude, wherein the seducing power of errours should be sent into the world (as the Apostle foretold, 2 Thes. 2.) and so necessary it was, that Bohemia it self, (but lately converted to the Faith) should participate of the dimnesse which preceded the approaching darknesse, and more and more be fettered with Antichristian bands. Neverthelesse Bohemia never committed any abominations (which were visible to her through the darknesse) without reluctancy and compulsion. From whence it was, that Rome from Antiquity did often in large expressions, bestow the title of Heretiques (before all others) upon the Bohemians.

5. When in the year 1197. Peter Cardinal of Brodeway, being sent to Prague by Pope Celestine, urged the necessity of single life, and enjoyned Divorces unto those who were ordained for the Ministerie, he was even upon the point of being stoned by the Priests and and Prelates. Haiec. fol. 212.

6. About the year 1350. in the Reigne of Charles the fourth likewise (Emperour of Rome) the sacriledgious administration of the Lords Supper under one kind, was first heard and seen in Bohemia, under the first Arch-Bishop Ernestus of Eardubitz the Italian, French, and Germane Divines and Magistrates, whom Charles had chosen Professors for the newly founded University of Prague, very much perswading him to it; Forreigners also well learned in the Arts, who came thither in great troops, drawing away very many by their Example.

7. Certain of the Bohemians disstracted by these factions; apostatized, and began to assert; That the Custome in other places received, ought not to be rejected there, that the Sacrament ought not to be easily granted, much lesse dailie dissttibuted in both kinds, and that not without the peculiar indulgence of the Arch-Bishop.