The letters of John Hus/Letter 25, To the Synod of Prague in the year 1413

XXV. To the Synod of Prague in the year 1413

(Without date: after February 6, 1413[1])

Against the Judgment of the Doctors.[2]

The persons who have falsely defamed Bohemia, both before the Pope and in other quarters, or are doing so even now, declaring that in Bohemia there are many heretics or wanderers from the faith of Christ, ought by right to point out these wanderers from the faith and prove their guilt. If they fail to prove their guilt and do not withdraw their defamation of the kingdom, they ought to be punished as betrayers of the fair fame of the Bohemian people. For whereas the doctors in their judgment record that the Bohemians who utter the calumnies, are certain clergymen in Bohemia that hold views concerning the sacraments differing from the Holy Catholic Church; secondly, whereas they assert that some persons in Bohemia refuse to abide by the faith and law of the Holy Catholic Church; thirdly, whereas they assert that certain persons do not obey their prelates and persuade the people not to hold in honour the authority of the Pope, bishops, and priests (though they ought to judge as in error or a heretic a man who holds a different opinion concerning the sacraments, and refuses to think or believe as the Holy Church doth); whereas, then, the doctors assert that there are certain heretics or persons in error in Bohemia, therefore they ought to point them out clearly and prove their guilt, and, failing this, to undergo punishment as guilty of defamation and betrayers of the fair fame of the kingdom of Bohemia.

The doctors also state that each person is bound to obey his prelate, provided that he command not what is really bad, or forbid what is really good. This very thing they themselves failed to do, when the Pope commanded them to elect Master Maurice into their order.[3] They would not obey the Pope in this matter. Moreover, they themselves and the other priests will not obey the King of Bohemia, their chief prelate,[4] or give a tenth, although he neither commands what is bad in itself nor forbids what is really good. His Majesty also can, by rights, give orders that the sacred offices are not to be interrupted on account of the preaching of Master Hus; and the priests ought to obey in this matter, for it is not an action bad in itself to serve God.

Furthermore, they censure the forty-five articles against the ecclesiastical order, though no one is allowed to censure an error, except the Holy Church alone. Master Stanislaus and Master Palecz formerly held and defended many of these articles, until they became afraid of the secular arm.

They state also that because they excommunicate Master Hus by the Pope’s authority, he is justly excommunicated, although they know that the priests drew up the excommunication acting on false counsels. Furthermore, they state that though the rector excommunicates some of the doctors, they themselves are not involved in the excommunication, thereby defaming others and exalting themselves.[5]

Their judgment, therefore, inasmuch as it is disgraceful, should be rejected.

  1. See supra, p. 83. It is characteristic that this letter is written in Czech.
  2. This Consilium doctorum will be found in Doc. 475–85. It was put in, both in Latin and Czech, on February 6.
  3. Mařik Rwačka (Maurice) obtained a grace from Innocent VII. giving him the degree at Prague of S.T.P . The faculty at first was unwilling to grant the demand. Mauritius was one of the deputation sent in October 1408 to the cardinals at Bologna (supra, p. 73). On his return he became episcopal inquisitor at Prague.
  4. This phrase marks the influence of Wyclif’s De Officio Regis. Cf. op. cit. pp. 9–14.
  5. John of Jesenicz had already (December 18, 1412) dwelt on this See Mon. i. 329a.