The letters of John Hus/Letter 37, To his Bohemian Friends

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to his Bohemian Friends (4 November 1414).

XXXVII. To the Same

(Constance, November 4, 1414)

Greetings from Christ Jesus! We reached Constance the Saturday after All Saints’ Day, having escaped all hurt. As we passed through the various cities we posted up the notices of appeal in Latin and German. We are lodged in a street near the Pope’s quarters.[1] We came without a safe-conduct.[2] The day after our arrival Michael de Causis posted up writs against me in the Cathedral, and affixed his signature to them, with a long preamble to the effect that “the said writs are against that excommunicated and obstinate John Hus, who is also under the suspicion of heresy,” and much else besides. Nevertheless, with God’s help, I take no notice of this, knowing that God sent him against me to say evil things of me for my sins, and to test my power and willingness to endure suffering. Barons Lacembok and John Kepka[3] had an audience with the Pope, and spoke with him about me. He replied that he desired no violence to be done. ’Tis reported, though on poor authority, that Benedict, the Pope of the Spaniards, is on his way to the Council. We heard to-day that the Duke of Burgundy,[4] with the Duke of Brabant, had left the field, and that King Sigismund in three days ought to be at Aachen and be crowned, and that the Pope and the Council should be on the lookout for him. But as Aachen is seventy [German] miles from here, I imagine that the King will scarcely arrive before Christmas. I think therefore that the Council, if not dissolved, will perhaps end about Easter. The living here is dear, a bed costing half a florin a week. Horses are cheap: one bought in Bohemia for six guineas is given away here for seven florins.[5] Baron Chlum and myself sent our horses to a town called Ravensburg, four [German] miles off. I think it will not be long before I shall be hard up for common necessaries. Mention therefore my anxiety on this score among my friends, whom it would take too long to name and it would be irksome to think of separately. Baron Lacembok is riding off to-day to the King. He has urged me to attempt nothing definite before the arrival of the latter. I am hoping that I shall have a public hearing for my reply. There are many Parisians and Italians here, but few archbishops as yet, and even few bishops. The cardinals are present in great force, riding about on mules, but such sorry scrubs![6] When I rode into Constance I heard at once of their riding about—I was riding myself through a vast crowd—but I could not see them for the great throng about me. Many of our Bohemian friends spent on the journey all the money they had, and are now in sad straits. I am full of sympathy with them, but cannot afford to give to all. Baron Lacembok took over the horse of Baron Přibislaus; but my horse, Rabstyn, beats them all for hard work and spirit. He is the only one I have by me, if at any time I should have to go out of the city to the King. Greet all my friends without exception, etc. This is the fourth[7] letter written away from home. It is sent off on Sunday night after All Saints’ Day in Constance. None of the Bohemian gentry[8] are here except Baron John of Chlum, who escorted me and looks after me like a knight, and everywhere does more preaching than I, in declaring my innocence.[9] Sent off from Constance. Pray God for my constancy[10] in the truth.

  1. The Pope was lodged in the Bishop’s palace.
  2. See p. 146, supra, for explanation.
  3. i.e., Barons Henry and John of Chlum. See p. 139.
  4. Dux Burgundiæ. I imagine that this a slip, whether on Hus’s part or the copyist’s, for ‘dux Berg.’ See supra, p. 156. So far as I know, the Duke of Burgundy had nothing to do with the matter. But Adolph of Berg was up in arms because Sigismund did not support his brother’s claim to the vacant archbishopric of Cologne. See Aschbach, Kaiser Sigmund, i. 401–9.
  5. i.e., a third the price. For prices at Constance, see Hardt, v. 50–52.
  6. Hus falls back on Czech to express his feelings.
  7. That is, counting Letters XXXIV. and XXXV. as sent away after leaving Krakowec. Otherwise we must assume some are lost.
  8. Militaribus.
  9. See “Doctor Biberach,” pp. 155, 192, 195, 198.
  10. The pun is characteristic and very frequent. Cf. pp. 160, 195, 197.