The letters of John Hus/Letter 45, To John of Chlum

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to John of Chlum (3 January 1415).

XLV. To the Same

(Without date: February, 1415)

I spent nearly all last night in writing answers to the charges which Palecz had drawn up against me.[1] He is definitely working to bring about my condemnation. God have mercy on him and comfort my soul!

They are saying that the article “on the right to disendow”[2] is heretical. You may give my lord the King the hint that if that article be condemned as heresy, he too will come to be condemned as a heretic for having taken away from the bishops their temporal goods, ay, as his father did before him,[3] Emperor and King of Bohemia. Give no person letters to carry except one whom you can trust like your very self, and who can hold his tongue on his errand.

Item, tell Doctor Jesenicz and Master Jerome, and indeed all our friends, that they must not come here on any account.[4]

I am surprised that my lord the King hath forgotten me, and that he never sends a word to me. Perhaps I shall be sentenced before I have speech with him. If this is his honour, it is his own look-out.

Noble and gracious Lord John, my kind benefactor and brave defender, don’t trouble yourself on my account and about the losses you sustain. God Almighty will give the more hereafter. Please give my greetings to the Bohemian lords. I have no news about any of them, except that I fancy Lord Wenzel de Duba is here and Lord Henry Lacembok, who remarked: “My dear fellow, don’t pry into details!”[5]

Let me know if you have any one you are willing to depend on. John Barbatus,[6] pray for me, dear friend, and let the others pray as well. Try to get the King to ask for my replies, which are signed with my own hand, both as regards the [forty-five] articles against Wyclif and the [forty-two] against myself.[7] These replies may be copied out, but are not to be shown to any outsider; and let the copy be written in such a way as to distinguish the several charges easily. I do not know whether my petition will be considered, which I gave to the Patriarch[8] to present to the Council. I fancy he will not present it. Please God, the King will quash the indictment of the Prague doctors as regards one or two of my articles, that concerning the “Right to Disendow,” that concerning the “Donation of Constantine,” and that entitled “Tithes are Pure Alms”[9]—all of which I refused to disown—I mean if the King were prompted in some way. But this should be done by some one not belonging to our party. If I were only free I should say to him privately, “Your Majesty, see to it that there is no secret transference of the power you love, so that you may never see it again.”

Tell John Cardinalis to be careful; for all the men who affected to be friendly were really spies. I found this out from the lips of my examiners, who remarked: “John Cardinalis himself confounds the Pope with the cardinals, asserting that they are all guilty of simony together.”[10] Let Master Cardinalis stay in the King’s court as much as he can, or they will arrest him, as they have done me. No one doth me greater harm than Palecz. God Almighty have mercy on him! He is the ringleader, následník, (the arch-detective). He insisted that all my adherents should be summoned and should abjure their views. He said in the prison that all who attend my preaching maintain that after consecration the material substance of the bread remains.[11]

I am surprised that no Bohemian visits me in prison. Perhaps they are acting for the best. Let this letter be torn up at once.

Send another shirt by the bearer. My Lord John, insist with the Bohemians that the citation against certain parties already issued be annulled; and that the King have compassion on his inheritance and not let it be harassed gratuitously because of one disaffected person.

I should like to speak to the King at least once before I am condemned; for I came here at his own request and under his promise that I should return in safety to Bohemia.[12]

  1. See Doc. 204 ff.
  2. Gerson, in his charges against Hus, forwarded from Paris on September 24, 1414 , had put his finger on this (Doc. 187), while it had already in 1412 formed one of the charges of Michael the Pleader (Doc. 170). Hus, in fact, had embraced Wyclif’s “plan of campaign” to this extent, that the goods of priests of evil life should be taken away for the benefit of the poor. Hus’s treatise on this subject, De Ablatione (see Mon. i. 117–25), is mainly taken from the De Ecclesia of Wyclif. It was written in 1412.
  3. Charles IV. In his De Ablatione Hus simply refers in general terms (from Wyclif) to the case of the Templars. Both Charles and Wenzel had few qualms in this matter.
  4. See infra, p. 183, last paragraph, and cf. pp. 196, n. 1, 209, and 219, n. 1.
  5. This last sentence is in Czech. To what it alludes I know not.
  6. See p. 45.
  7. See Doc. 328, 204.
  8. P. 175.
  9. De Ablations, De Constanini dotatione, De Eleemosynis (see p. 70, supra). All the three are mentioned in Gerson’s articles against Hus (Doc. 186–7). The treatises are in Mon. i. 111–34. Hus had learned their doctrines from Wyclif. Hus seems to have got his way to this extent, that at the formal examination of June 8 nothing was said on these matters, at any rate Mladenowic in his Relatio reports nothing.
  10. A side-light on the already existing breach between the two (see Hardt, Constanc. Concil, iv. 41, for date), that culminated in John’s flight.
  11. One of the doctrines that Hus did not believe, in this, for once, not following the lead of Wyclif. The tenses “attend,” “maintain,” are probably due to haste, and should be pasts.
  12. Hus’s view of the meaning of the safe-conduct is clear, however mistaken (see p. 144 and especially p. 230).