The letters of John Hus/Letter 13, To Ladislaus, King of Poland

XIII. To Ladislaus, King of Poland

(June 10, 1412[1])

May the grace of Jesus Christ be granted to you for the ruling of your people and the attaining of the life of glory!

Most serene prince, it hath brought me great joy and comfort to hear that your Majesty in the providence of Almighty God hath come to an agreement with the most illustrious King Sigismund.[2] The people and myself are united in the prayer that God may direct[3] the lives of both of you in the way of righteousness, and your subjects as well. To this end, most illustrious prince, it appears to be a prior condition alike for your Majesty, for his excellence King Sigismund, and for the other princes, that the heresy of simony should be removed from your dominions. But is it possible to expect its banishment when it hath spread its poison so widely that scarcely anywhere can clergy or people be found that have not been laid low by this heresy of simony? Who is honest enough to present to a see for the honour of God, for the salvation of the people, and for one’s own salvation? Who is so disinterested as to accept a see, a parish living, or any other benefice under the constraint of these three motives? I would that there were many to refuse them as a form of bondage and human bribery! But are not the words of Jeremiah fulfilled: From the least of them even to the greatest all follow hard after covetousness, and from the prophet even to the priest all make a lie?[4] Is the disciple of Christ wide of the mark when he says: All seek the things that that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s?[5] It is the voice of the Church weeping, because the gold is become dim and the finest colour is changed.[6] Once the priesthood was like gold aflame with love and burnished with virtues; but now it hath become earthy and blackened, as Bernard saith.[7] The words of our Saviour are fulfilled: Iniquity shall abound—that is, among the clergy—and charity shall grow cold[8] among the people. Woe, therefore, to him that weeps not for such a time! Most illustrious prince, it is because they hear a message like this that a simoniac, pomp-loving, luxurious, and unrestrained clergy charge me with defamation of their order and heresy-mongerings. But shall I keep silence? God forbid! Woe is me if I keep silence! It is better for me to die than not to resist the wickedness which would make me a partner in their crimes and in their hell. May it please the King of glory to preserve your Majesty from these things for the holy government of your people!

Master John Hus,
an unprofitable priest of Christ.

  1. Marginal note in MS.
  2. On this peace of Sigismund, the Poles, and the Teutonic Knights, see Aschbach, Kaiser Sigmund (Hamburg, 1845), i. c. 16, and the letter of Sigismund (March 28, 1412) in ib. i. 437.
  3. P.: vita . . . dirigatur; H.: vitam . . . dirigat.
  4. Jer. vi. 13.
  5. Phil. ii. 21.
  6. Lam. iv. 1.
  7. P.: ut ait Bernardus; H.: ut ait Bene impletur—i.e., ut ait Jeremias. I cannot put my finger on this passage. But similar statements in St. Bernard abound.
  8. Matt. xxiv. 12.