The letters of John Hus/Letter 38, To his Bohemian Friends

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to his Bohemian Friends (6 November 1414).

XXXVIII. To the Same

(Constance, November 6, 1414)

Greetings from Christ Jesus! Dear friends, I am quite well through it all. I came without the Pope’s[1] safe-conduct to Constance; pray God then that He may grant me constancy, because many powerful adversaries have risen up against me, stirred up in particular by that seller of indulgences, the Dean of Passau, now the head of the chapter there,[2] and Michael de Causis, who is always posting up writs against me. But I fear none of these things, nor am I affrighted, for I hope that a great victory is to follow a great fight, and after the victory a greater reward, and the greater confusion of my persecutors. The Pope is unwilling to quash the writs. He said, “What can I do? your side are the aggressors.” But two bishops and a doctor had some talk with Baron John Kepka [Chlum] to the effect that I should come to terms under a pledge of silence. By which I apprehend that they are afraid of my public reply and sermon,[3] which I hope by the grace of God to deliver when Sigismund comes. Of the latter Baron Wenzel de Leštna[4] has sent news that he expressed pleasure when he (the noble Baron Wenzel) told him that I was riding direct[5] to Constance without safe-conduct. In all the cities we were well treated and had respect paid to us, while we posted up notices in Latin and German in the free cities where I had interviews with the magistrates. I had a herald on the journey in the Bishop of Lebus,[6] who was always one night ahead of us. He spread the news abroad that they were conducting me in a cart in chains, and that people must beware of me, as I could read men’s thoughts! So whenever we drew near a city, out came the crowds to meet us, as if to a show! But the enemy was put to confusion by his lie, while the people were glad when they heard the truth. Surely Christ Jesus is with me as a strong warrior; therefore I fear not what the enemy may do. Live holy lives, and pray earnestly that the Lord in His mercy may help me and defend His law in me to the end. Sent off on the evening of St. Leonard’s Day.

I imagine I shall be hard up for necessaries, if the Council is prolonged. So ask for an interest in me from those whom you know to be my friends, but in the first instance let the request be conditional. Greet all my friends of either sex, urging them to pray God in my behalf, for there is much need.

  1. This version differs from that which Hus gives elsewhere, and glosses over the fact that actually Hus had set off without Sigismund’s promised safe-conduct. In reality the Pope’s safe-conduct could alone have guaranteed his immunity from the Inquisition. Sigismund’s safe-conduct did not reach the spiritual sphere. See p. 144 n. and p. 146, and cf. p. 180.
  2. Jam præpositus. See Ducange.
  3. The sermons which Hus expected to give are still preserved for us in Mon. i. 44–57. They are chiefly from Wyclif, and in reality cut at the root of the mediæval system.
  4. i.e., Wenzel de Duba, who had ridden from Nuremberg to the King. See p. 155.
  5. See p. 155, n. 2.
  6. Epis. Lubucensem, usually, but wrongly translated, “Bishop of Lübeck” (Lubicensem). John de Bornsnitz, Bishop of Lebus, was a canon of Prague, a doctor of decrees, and ‘auditor Pal. Apostolici.’ (See infra, p. 162.) He was Bishop from September 24, 1397—1420, when he was translated to Gran. In January 1410 we find him despatched by Alexander V. on special business into Bohemia. He was one of the special inquisitors appointed to examine Hus. See infra, p. 174.