The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/A further Continuation of the memorable History of the Bohemians, being a brief Epitome, showing how they were called and brought unto the Council of Basil

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The Memorable History of the Bohemians,


Briefly collected and gathered out of the Commentaries of Æneas Sylvius.

*Forasmuch[1] as the Bohemians, as is before said, being incensed for the death of John Huss and Jerome of Prague, persevered still in the maintaining of their opinions, Julian, cardinal of St. Angelo, was sent ambassador into Germany to make preparation against them; for the bishop of Rome thought that nation would have easily been vanquished by the Germans. But the matter came far otherwise to pass; for the Germans, being often put to flight, as is aforesaid, they put such a terror into the hearts of all the borderers, that Germany desired nothing more than peace.*

The Bohemians then, as is before declared, having always the upper hand, albeit they were accused by the new bishop Eugene, yet it was thought good that they should be called unto Basil, where the council was appointed. Whereupon cardinal Julian sent thither before John Pullumair, doctor of the law, and John de Raguso, a divine; who, coining unto Basil in the month of August, A.D. 1431, called by their letters unto the council, John, abbot of Mulbrun, and John Gelhusius, monk of the same cloister; which men, for dexterity of their wit, and their experience, and knowledge of countries, were very meet and necessary for embassages.

The Bohemians invited to come to the council.Within a few days after, Julian also came thither, as he had promised, and immediately sent out John Gelhusius, and Hammon Offenbourgh, a senator of Basil, first, unto the emperor Sigismund, being at Feldkirch, and, afterwards, unto Frederic, duke of Austria, for the appeasing of the wars between him and Philip, duke of Burgundy. This was done, to the intent that peace being had, not only the ecclesiastical prelates, but also the merchants, might have safe access unto Basil, and so bring in all things necessary for sustentation.

They, going on this embassage, received letters from the synod, to be delivered unto the emperor Sigismund, whereby the Bohemians and Moravians were called unto the council. These letters he, by and by, caused to be carried unto Bohemia. But, forasmuch as he himself went into Italy, to receive the imperial crown of the bishop, he left William, duke of Bavaria, as his deputy, to be protector unto the council. Furthermore, when the synod understood that our men would take a peace with the Bohemians, after their most shameful flight, they sent John Niderius, a divine, and John Gelhusius, to comfort the people who joined upon Bohemia, and earnestly to move the Moravians and Bohemians, who were before called, to come unto the council.

They, departing from Basil about the end of October, took their journey toward Monachum,[2] a town of Bavaria; where, after they had saluted William, duke of Bavaria, and his brother Ernest, and Albert, the son of Ernest, and had declared the commission of their embassage, and had showed unto duke William, how that, as soon as he should come unto Basil, the protection of the council should be committed unto him by the emperor; they exhorted Frederic, marquis of Brandenburgh, and John, duke of Bavaria, the senate of Nuremberg, and other princes and lords, partly by the letters of the council, and partly by word of mouth, that they should by no means take any trace with the Bohemians, for that it might be hurtful unto the church; and said, they should have aid out of hand. They desired them also, in the name of the council. That if the Bohemians would send their ambassadors unto Basil, they would guide them, every man through his country, in safety; which they promised to do. It is incredible how all men rejoiced that the Bohemians were sent for.

After this, when they counselled with the senate of Nuremberg, touching the sending of the council's letters into Bohemia, it seemed best first of all to inquire of the rulers of Egra, whether the Bohemians had made any answer to the former letters of the council which they had sent. The rulers of Egra, being advertised by these letters, sent him who carried the council's letters into Bohemia, unto Nuremberg. He reported how reverently the council of the greater city of Prague received the letters, and how he was rewarded; whereupon they conceived great hope of the good success of the embassage. Therefore the ambassadors, using the counsel of the senate of Nuremberg, and divers others, sent the messenger back again unto Egra, with their own private letters, and with letters of the council: there was no better mean to send the letters to Bohemia. The Bohemians are laboured to come to the council.Much travail was taken by them of Egra, Frederic, marquis of Brandenburgh, and John, duke of Bavaria, in this matter; for that they were come to very desirous that peace might be had amongst Christians. The copy of those letters, whereby the synod did call the Bohemians unto the council, and other letters exhortatory of the ambassadors, and the Bohemians' answer unto the same, for brevity's cause we have here pretermitted. The Bohemians, not in all points trusting unto the ambassadors, required by their letters that the council's ambassadors, with the other princes, would come unto Egra, where their ambassadors should be also present, to treat upon the safe-conduct, and other matters.

The ambassadors at Egra.The day appointed for the meeting was the Sunday after Easter, which was the 27th day of April. Then came the ambassadors of the council unto Egra, with the noble princes, Frederic, marquis of Brandenburgh, and John, duke of Bavaria, with other nobles, almost to the number of two hundred and fifty-two horse.[3] But none of the Bohemians were present, because the inhabitants of Pilsina, and the lord Swamberg, had not sent their safe-conduct. When they understood this by their letters, they brought it to pass, that the ambassadors of the Bohemians, Nicholas Humpolz, secretary of the greater city of Prague, and Matthew Clumpezane, president of Piesta, should be brought forth by them of Egra and the Elenbogenses; and so they came unto Egra with nineteen horse, the eighth day of May. The next day after, Henry Toegye received the Bohemian ambassadors before the marquis with an eloquent oration, taking this part of the gospel for his theme, "Pax vobis," that is, "Peace be with you." Then they propounded what great injuries they had hitherto received at their hands, which was the cause of so many great slaughters on either party, and that they were glad that now, at length, there was some hope that they should be heard.

The Bohemians require pledges.After this they conferred as touching the safe-conduct. The Bohemians required pledges, and that, not of the common sort, but princes and nobles. Which thing, forasmuch as it did not content the ambassadors, and that the matter should so be put off, the common people of Egra began to cry out. That for a long time a concord had not been made with the Bohemians by the ecclesiastical princes. Princes bound to the Bohemians.Then Frederic, marquis of Brandenburgh, and John, duke of Bavaria, bound themselves of their own good wills; the like also did William, duke of Bavaria, at the request of the council. Likewise also did the council and the emperor Sigismund. The Bohemians require the emperor to be present.Furthermore, promise was made, That all the princes and cities should do the like, through whose dominion they should come, and the city of Basil also; the copy of which safe-conduct was afterwards sent unto Prague. This also was required by the Bohemians, That if it were possible the emperor should be present at the council.

This convention at Egra, continued twenty-one days. But the Bohemians, albeit they heard the council's ambassadors make great promises, yet did they not fully give credit unto them. The Bohemians send two ambassadors.Whereupon they chose out two ambassadors, Nicholas Humgolizius, and John Zaezenses, who should go to Basil, and diligently inquire out all things. These men, Conrad, bishop of Ratisbon, and Conrad Seglaver, dean of Estein, brought unto Cattelspurg, where the marquis dwelt, being sent out by the synod a little before, to inquire whether the Bohemian ambassadors would come or not. When they were come to Biberack, one being over curious, inquired of one of the Bohemian ambassadors, of what county he was. He answered that he was a Zaczen. Good justice upon a slanderous railer. Gentleness of the Bohemian ambassadors."There," said he, "are most execrable heretics and naughty men," &c.; who, for that slanderous word, as a breaker of the truce, was straightway carried to prison, and there should have suffered more punishment, if the Bohemian ambassadors, and the abbot ot Ebera, had not entreated for him. When they came to Basil, they were honourably received with wine and fish: they tarried there five days and a half. The tenth day of October they came unto the synod, which was assembled at the friars Augustine.

The ambassadors of the Bohemians return home.These ambassadors, when they were returned home with the charter of the synod, and declared those things which they had seen, and that the matter was earnestly handled without fraud or deceit; there were ambassadors chosen to be sent unto the council, both for the kingdom of Bohemia, and the marquisdom of Moravia, who coming unto Tusca, were brought from thence with thirty-two horse, and divers noblemen, unto Chambia. The Bohemians send up other solemn ambassadors.From thence they came to Swenkendorph, and so unto Nuremberg, where, beside their entertainment of wine and fish, twenty-two horsemen accompanied them unto Ulm; from thence they of Ulm brought them unto Biberack and Sulgotia, where James Tunches, a knight, receiving them, brought them to Stockacum, and from thence the bands of the duke of Bavaria brought them unto Schaffhausen. There they, taking ship the 4th of January, came to Basil the 9th of the same month. What were the names of these ambassadors of the Bohemians, who were brought up with three hundred horse, and how they were received at Basil, mention is made before. Oration of the cardinal Julian.When they came unto the synod, cardinal Julian made an oration, That whatsoever was in any place in cloubt, the same ought to be determined by the authority of the council, forasmuch as all men are bound to submit themselves to the judgment of the holy church, which the general council doth represent.—Which oration was not allowed of all the Bohemians.

Three articles of the Bohemians.Then Rochezanus made an oration, requiring to have a day appointed when they should be heard, which was appointed the 16th day of the same month; upon which day John Rochezanus, having made his preface, began to propound the first article, touching the communion to be ministered under both kinds, and disputed upon the same by the space of three days, always before noon. Then Wenceslaus, the Taborite, disputed upon the second article, touching the correction and punishing of sin, by the space of two days. After whom Ulderic, priest of the Orphans, propounded and disputed upon the third article by the space of two days, touching the free preaching of the word of God.

The fourth article.Last of all, Peter Paine, an Englishman, disputed three days upon the fourth article, touching the civil dominion of the clergy, and afterwards gave copies of their disputations in writing unto the—council, with hearty thanks that they were heard. The three last fourth did somewhat inveigh against the council, condemning John Huss and John Wickliff for their doctrine. Whereupon John de Raguso, a divine, rising up, desired that he might have leave to answer in his own name, to the first article of the Bohemians. The council consented thereunto; so that by the space of eight days in the forenoon, he disputed thereupon. Oration of the abbot of Sistercia.But, before he began to answer, John, the abbot of Sistertia, made an oration unto the Bohemians, that they should submit themselves to the determination of the holy church, which this council (said he) doth represent. This matter did not a little offend the Bohemians. John Ragusinus, a divine, after scholars' fashion, in his answer spake often of heresies and heretics. Procopius could not suffer it, but, rising up with an angry stomach, complained openly to the council of this injury. "This our countryman," saith he, "doth us great injury, calling us oftentimes heretics." John Tagusinus replieth against the first article.Whereunto Ragusinus answered, "forasmuch as I am your countryman both by tongue and nation, I do the more desire to reduce you again unto the church." He was a Dalmatian born, and it appeareth that the Dalmatians, going into Bohemia, took their name from the country which they possessed. It came almost to this point, that through this offence the Bohemians would depart from Basil, and could scarcely be appeased. Certain of the Bohemians would not hear Ragusinus finish his disputation.

Egidius Carlerius to the second.
Henry Coldiron to the third.
J. Polomarius to the fourth.
After him a famous divine, one Egidius Carlerius, dean of the church of Cambray, answered unto the second article, by the space of four days. To the third article answered one Henricus, surnamed Frigidum Ferrum, three days together. Last of all one Johannes Polomarius, master of the requests of the palace, answered unto the fourth article likewise by the space of three days, so that the long time which they used in disputations seemed tedious unto the Bohemians. Notwithstanding this answer, the Bohemians still defended their articles, and especially the first, insomuch that John Rochezanus did strongly impugn Ragusinus' answer by the space of six days. But, forasmuch as one disputation bred another, and it was not perceived how that by this means any concord could be made, the prince William, duke of Bavaria, protector of the council, attempted another remedy, that all disputations being set apart, the matter should be friendly debated.

Certain chosen on both sides to determine the matter.There were certain appointed on either part to treat upon the certain concord; who coming together the 11th day of March, those who were appointed for the council, were demanded to say their minds. "It seemeth good," said they, "if these men would be united unto us, and be made one body with us, that this body might then accord, declare, and determine, all manner of diversities of opinions and sects, what is to be believed or done in them."

The Bohemians, when they had awhile paused, said, "This way seemed not apt enough, except, first of all, the four articles were exactly discussed, so that either we should agree with them, or they with us; for, otherwise, it would be but a frivolous matter, if they being now united, again disagree in the deciding of the articles." Here answer was made to the Bohemians, That if they were rightly united, and the aid of the Holy Ghost called for, they should not err in the deciding of the matter, forasmuch as every Christian ought to believe that determination; which if they would do, it would breed a most firm and strong concord and amity on either part.—But this answer satisfied them not, insomuch that the other three rose up, and disputed against the answers which were given. At that time cardinal Julian, president of the council, made this oration unto the Bohemian ambassadors.

Oration of cardinal Julian."This sacred synod," saith he, " hath now, by the space of ten days, patiently heard the propositions of your four articles;" and afterwards he annexed, "You have propounded," saith he, "four articles; but we understand that, beside these four, you have many other strange doctrines, wherein ye dissent from us. Wherefore it is necessary, if a perfect unity and fraternity shall follow between us, that all these things be declared in the council, to the end that by the grace of the Holy Ghost, who is the author of peace and truth, due provision may be made therein. For we have not gathered these things of light conjectures, but have heard them of credible persons, and partly here are some present who have seen them with their own eyes in Bohemia, and partly we do gather it by your own report: Master Nicholas charged by the cardinal, for commending of John Wickliff.for Master Nicholas, who was the second that did propound, amongst other things alleged, that John Wickliff was an evangelical doctor. If ye believe him to be a true doctor, it followeth that you must repute his works as authentic; if ye do not so think, it is reason that it should be opened unto us. Wherefore we desire you, that you will certify us upon these and certain other points, what you do believe, or what credit you do give unto them. But we do not require, that you should now declare your reasons; but it shall satisfy us, if you will answer unto every article by this word, 'credimus' or, 'non credimus;' that is, 'we believe,' or, 'we believe not.' Which if you will do (as we trust you will), then we shall manifestly perceive that you desire, that we should conceive a good estimation of you. If there be any thing whereof you would be certified by us, ask it boldly, and we will give you an answer out of hand; for we are ready, according to the doctrine of St. Peter, to render account unto every man who shall require it, touching the faith which we hold."

Prudent answer to cardinal Julian.Hereunto the Bohemian ambassadors answered in few words, that they came only to propound those four articles, not in their own name, but in the name of the whole kingdom of Bohemia;—and spake no more. Whereupon William, the noble protector of the council, calling unto him four men on either part, treated touching the pacifying the matter; by whose advice the council decreed to send a famous embassage with the Bohemian ambassadors, unto Prague, where the people should assemble upon Sunday. The ambassadors return without agreement.But they would not receive these conditions of peace which were offered, but made haste to depart. Whereupon, on the 14th day of April, there were ten chosen out of the council, to go with the Bohemian ambassadors unto Prague.

It were too long here to declare what honour was done unto these ambassadors all the way in their journey, and especially when they came into Bohemia, by the citizens of Prague, when a great number of Bohemians were assembled at Prague at the day appointed, both of the clergy, nobility, and common people.

The coming of the legates to Prague.After the coming of those ambassadors, much contention began to rise between the parties. First began John Rochezanus, who speaking in the public person of the commonalty, laboured to commend and prefer the four verities of the Bohemians before propounded; charging also the prelates and priests, for their slanderous obtrectations and undeserved contumelies, wherewith they did infame the noble kingdom of Bohemia; complaining also that they would not receive those christian verities, left and allowed by their king Wenceslaus now departed. Wherefore he required them in the behalf of the whole nation, that they would leave off hereafter to oppress them in such sort, that they would restore to them again their Joseph's vesture; that is, the ornament of their good fame and name, whereof their brethren, their enemies, had spoiled them, &c.

To this Polomar maketh answer again, with a long and curious oration, exhorting them to peace and unity of the church, which if they would embrace, all other obstacles and impediments (said he) should be soon removed: promising also, that this their vesture of honour and flime should be amply restored again; and that afterwards, if there were any doubtful matters, they might and should be the better discussed.

But all this pleased not the Bohemians, unless they might first have a declaration of their four articles, which if they might obtain, they promised then to embrace peace and concord; which peace (said they) began first to be broken by themselves, in that the council of Constance, by their unjust condemnation, burned John Huss and Jerome of Prague, and also, by their cruel bulls and censures, raised up first excommunication, then war, against the whole kingdom of Bohemia.

Hereunto Polomar, reclaiming again, began to advance and magnify the honour and dignity of general councils. To conclude, as much as the said Polomar did extol the authority of the councils, so much did the answer of the Bohemians extenuate the same; saying, General councils may err, and have erred.That the later councils, which are not expressed in the law of God, have erred, and might err, not only in faith, but also in manners. For that which hath chanced to the green wood, may also chance unto the dry. But of others, the most strong pillars of the militant church, the apostles I mean, seem all to have erred, and the catholic faith to have remained three days sound and uncorrupt only in the Virgin Mary. No christian man, therefore, ought to be compelled to stand to the determination of the pope or the council, except it be in that which is plainly expressed in the law of God. For it is evident, that all the general councils which have been of long time, have reformed very few things as touching the faith, peace and manners of the church, but have always, both in their life and decrees, notoriously swerved, ami have not established themselves upon the foundation, which is Christ. Wherefore the said Bohemians protested, that they would not simply and plainly (God being their good Lord) yield themselves to their doctrine, nor to such rash and hasty decrees; lest, through that their hasty and uncircumspect submission, they should bind their faith and life contrary to the wholesome and sound doctrine of our Lord Christ Jesus. In short, in no case would they enter into any agreement of peace, except their four articles, which they counted for evangelical verities, were first accepted and approved. Which being obtained (said they), if they would condescend with them in the verity of the gospel, so would they join together, and be made one with them in the Lord, &c.[4]

The ambassdors and Bohemians cannot agree.When the ambassadors saw the matter would not otherwise be brought to pass, they required to have those articles delivered unto them in a certain form, which they sent unto the council by three Bohemian ambassadors.

Afterwards the council sent a declaration into Bohemia, to be published unto the people in the common assemblies of the kingdom by the ambassadors, who were commanded to report unto the Bohemians, in the name of the council, that if they would receive the declaration of those three articles, and the unity of the church, there should be a mean found whereby the matter touching the first article, of the communion under both kinds, should be passed with peace and quietness.

They propounded in Prague, in an open assembly of the nobles and commons, the declarations of the three articles in form following:

  1. Sec. Edition 1563, p. 335. Ed.
  2. "Monachum," Munich.—Ed.
  3. Fifty-two horse, Edition 1563, p. 336.—Ed.
  4. Ex Chochleo, hist. lib. vii.