The letters of John Hus/Letter 43, To Peter Mladenowic

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to Peter Mladenowic (after 19 January 1415).

XLIII. To Peter Mladenowic

(Without date: February 1415)

I have not as yet written a letter with news of my imprisonment, except the one in which I asked the Bohemians for their prayers[1]—if indeed you sent it on. Perhaps you know about the letter[2] which I wrote to Master Jakoubek, in which these words occurred, “My enemies have stated that no hearing[3] shall be granted to me, unless I first pay 2,000 ducats by way of indemnity to the ministers of Antichrist.”[4] Michael hath got hold of a copy of this as well as the lengthy and methinks outspoken reply of Master Jakoubek. Michael came with the Patriarch,[5] notaries and witnesses, when Master Nicholas of Stojčen[6] was present and stood opposite me. One of the commissioners, giving me a copy of my letter to read, asked me on oath whether it was mine. I answered, “Yes.” I fancy I was not so much upset—except indeed for the greeting of Master Palecz—as on account of the above letters, being vexed with the wickedness of Michael and his spies, and with Master Jakoubek, who is given to preaching that people should beware of hypocrites, and is the only one to be especially taken in by hypocrites and to put his trust in hypocrites! I imagine he wrote a bitter letter, which I did not read. For both letters were in one envelope, and I hastily concluded that the reply to my letter was not there, but a copy of a letter from the rector of Janowicz to me.[7]

The following letters of Hus are of great value and interest. They bring out very clearly the difficulties of Hus in prison, prostrate by sickness, and daily badgered by the inquisitors and his enemies. They also show us the optimism of Hus as to the justice of his cause, his blindness to his real position, and the somewhat crude plans by which he hoped to escape from the toils of the Inquisition.

  1. Viz., Letter XL. dated January 19.
  2. This Letter is lost.
  3. i.e., public hearing before the Council.
  4. There was no papal inquisition in Bohemia. Hence Hus was not aware of its procedure. By a decretal of Innocent III. the property of all suspects became forfeited ipto facto, a decretal expressly based on the Roman law of Majestas. (See Lea, Hist. Inquis. i. 502, and cf. infra, p. 186.)
  5. Of Constantinople, one of the inquisitors (see p. 174).
  6. He incepted as M.A. in 1410, and lectured at Prague until 1445. From the first he had joined the Wyclifists, and according to the famous English Hussite, Peter Payne, was one of Hus’s proctors at Rome in 1411–12 (supra, pp. 45 and 60, n. 2, and Doc. 87 n.)
  7. i.e., John Cardinalis.