The letters of John Hus/Letter 44, To John of Chlum

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

XLIV. To John of Chlum

(Undated: February 1415)

If my letter hath not been sent to Bohemia, please keep it and don’t send it on, because it may get into wrong hands.

Item, should the King inquire who ought to be my judge, point out that the Council neither sent me an invitation nor cited me to appear, nor have I ever been charged before the Council; and yet the Council hath put me in prison and appointed its own proctor against me.

Item, noble and gracious John, if an audience shall be granted to me, I ask that the King be present and that a place be assigned to me near him, so that he can hear and understand me properly. And you, too, must be present and Baron Henry [Lacembok] and Baron Wenzel [de Duba] and others, at any rate if possible, and hear what the Lord Jesus Christ, my proctor and defender and most gracious judge, will put into my mouth, so that whether I die or live you can be true and fitting witnesses, if liars should ever say that I departed from the truth which I preached.[1]

Item, you should know that in the presence of witnesses and notaries in the prison I asked the commissioners to appoint me a proctor and advocate. They agreed to do so, but afterwards refused my request.[2] I have handed over my case to the Lord Jesus Christ that He Himself may be proctor, advocate, and judge.

Item, you should know that they have no count, as I imagine, against me, except that I hindered the bull proclaiming the crusade.[3] Yet they have my pamphlet which was read before me, and I duly certified it.[4]

Secondly, they charge me with having been so long under sentence of excommunication and with having administered the sacrament during the time, etc.[5]

Thirdly, that I appealed from the Pope.[6] For they read my appeal in my presence; and I admitted it was mine before them all with a joyous heart and a smile.

Fourthly, that I left behind me a letter, which was read in the Bethlehem, and which my enemies utterly mistranslated and misinterpreted,[7] containing the statement that I was leaving without a safe-conduct.

In answer to this last, assert that when I left I had not a safe-conduct from the Pope;[8] and secondly, that I was not aware that you were commissioned[9] to go with me, when I wrote that letter.

Item, ask if I could enter a protest on the question which I wish to make the main issue.[10] Moreover, your secretary Peter can arrange the petition for a hearing.

Item, if a hearing shall be granted to me, ask that after it is granted the King shall not allow me to be thrust back into prison; so that I can be free to avail myself of your counsels and those of my friends, and, if it should please God, to say something to my lord the King for his own good and that of Christianity.

  1. Cf. p. 147.
  2. See remarks on p. 175.
  3. Supra, pp. 67–9.
  4. Probably his Disputation against Indulgences delivered (Jane 7, 1412) before the University (see Mon. i. 173–89 and supra, p. 69).
  5. Cf. p. 163.
  6. Doc. 464–6; end of 1412. See p. 79.
  7. See supra, p. 147.
  8. See p. 160, n. 1.
  9. By Sigismund.
  10. Determinare, a University term which must not here be taken too literally, though compare infra, p. 184. Hus had already prepared before he left Prague three sermons, which he desired to deliver before the Council (Mon. i. 44–57). The first and most important, On the Sufficiency of the Law of Christ for the Government of the Church, a familiar theme with Wyclif, really cut at the very roots of the mediæval system. To this Hus here alludes as the ‘determination’ he desired to present (cf. pp. 160 and 184). Hus made a great mistake in not recognising from the first that the Council was not a University Debating Society.