The letters of John Hus/Letter 64, To all the People of Bohemia

For other English-language translations of this work, see Letter of Jan Hus to all the People of Bohemia.

LXIV. To all the People of Bohemia[1]

(June 10, 1415)

Master John Hus, a servant of God in hope, to all the faithful Bohemians who love and will love God, praying that God may grant them to live and die in His grace and dwell for ever in the heavenly joy. Amen.

Faithful and beloved of God, lords and ladies, rich and poor! I entreat you and exhort you to love God, to spread abroad His word, and to hear and observe it more willingly. I entreat you to hold fast the truth of God, which I have written and preached to you from the Holy Scriptures and the utterances of His saints. I entreat you also, if any have heard in my preaching or private conversation that which is opposed to God’s truth, or if I have ever written anything of that kind—I trust God that it is not so—not to hold to it. I entreat you, if any have noticed frivolity in my words or actions, not to imitate it, but to pray God that it may please Him to pardon me.[2] I entreat you to love and commend and cultivate priests of good life—especially those that are earnest students of Holy Writ. I entreat you to beware of deceitful men, and particularly of wicked priests, of whom the Saviour saith that they are in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.[3] I entreat you to be kind to the poor and to rule them justly. I entreat all citizens to be righteous in their business dealings. I entreat all artisans faithfully to follow their craft and take delight in it. I entreat all servants to be faithful servants of their masters and mistresses. I entreat masters to live a good life and faithfully to instruct their scholars, especially that they may love God and learn to give themselves to knowledge, in order to promote His honour, the welfare of the state, and their own salvation, but not for the sake of avarice or the praise of man. I entreat students of letters and other scholars to obey their masters in things good, to imitate them, and diligently apply themselves to letters for the sake of God’s honour and their own salvation and that of other men. I entreat all the people to give thanks to Baron Wenzel of Duba, otherwise of Leštna, Baron John of Chlum, Lord Henry of Plumlow,[4] Lord William Zajiic,[5] Lord Myssa,[6] and the other nobles in Bohemia and Moravia, and the faithful nobles of the kingdom of Poland, and ever gratefully to remember their zeal in having often resisted, as God’s brave defenders and helpers of His truth, the whole of the Council, telling them what they ought to do, and making replies with a view to my liberty, more especially Baron Wenzel of Duba and Baron John of Chlum. Give credence to them, whatever their account of the proceedings shall be; for they were present at the Council when I pleaded my cause, for several days. They know which of the Bohemians trumped up disgraceful charges against me, and how many those charges were, how the whole Council shouted against me, and how I replied to the questions which were put to me. I entreat you also to make supplication on behalf of his Majesty the King of Rome and Bohemia, of your Queen[7] and nobles, that the God of love may abide with them in grace, both now and hereafter in eternal joy.

I write this letter to you in prison, bound with chains and expecting on the morrow the sentence of death, yet fully trusting in God that I shall not swerve from His truth nor swear denial of the errors, whereof I have been charged by false witnesses. What grace God hath shown me, and how He helps me in the midst of strange temptations, you will know when by His mercy we meet in joy in His presence. Of Master Jerome, my beloved friend, I hear nothing[8] except that he too, like myself, is in a noisome prison waiting for death, and that on account of his faith which he showed so earnestly to the Bohemians. The Bohemians are our fiercest enemies,[9] and have put us under the power and custody of other adversaries: pray for them, I beseech you. Also I entreat you, especially people of Prague, to support the chapel at Bethlehem, so far as God shall permit His holy word to be preached there. It is on account of that chapel that the devil hath blazed forth with anger, and it is against it that he hath aroused parish priests and cathedral clergy; in truth he felt that his kingdom was being overthrown in that place. I trust that God will preserve that chapel as long as it is His pleasure,[10] and cause greater good to be done there by others than by me, His unprofitable servant. I entreat this too of you, that ye love one another, defend good men from violent oppression, and give every one an opportunity of hearing the truth. I am writing this with the help of a good angel[11] on Monday night before St. Vitus’s Day.[12]

  1. The whole letter is in Czech.
  2. Cf. supra, p. 150.
  3. Matt. vii. 15.
  4. P. 189.
  5. P. 200, n. 3.
  6. P. 200, n. 4.
  7. Wenzel and Sophia. Wenzel had refused to own his deposition as “King of Rome” (see p. 18).
  8. Cf. note on 'barbatus' on p. 219, n. 1.
  9. Cf. pp. 147, 165.
  10. Destroyed by the Jesuits in 1786. See also p. 79, supra.
  11. i.e., whoever at the Franciscan acted the part of gaoler Robert.
  12. The great Cathedral of Prague was dedicated to St. Vitus; hence the point. St. Veit’s Day was June 15, which that year fell on a Saturday. Vitus, with his nurse Crescentia and her husband Modestus, was one of the Sicilian martyrs under Diocletian. The cult was widespread. His arm was brought from Corbey to Prague at an early date, while Charles IV. in January 1356 secured the head from Pavia. At this town, next to Bohemia, lay the centre of his cult. (See Acta SS., June xv. 491–519; Pertz, Mon. Germ. ii. 576–85.)