The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/Jerome, after his abjuration, returned to prison

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Jerome, after his abjuration, returned to prison.After all this they caused him to be carried again unto the same prison, but not so straitly chained and bound as he was before; notwithstanding kept every day with soldiers and armed men. And when, afterwards, his enemies who were appointed against him, as Michael de Causis, and wicked Paletz, with other their companions in these affairs, understood and knew by the words and talk of Master Jerome, and by other certain tokens, Accused anew by Causis Paletz, and the Carmelites.
The cardinal of Cambray, with certain other cardinals, labour for his delivery.
that he made the same abjuration and recantation, not of a sincere and pure mind, but only to the intent thereby to escape their hands, they, together with certain rnd^the friars of Prague of the order of Carmelites, then coming in, put up new accusatious against the said Master Jerome, and drew the same into articles, being very instant and earnest that he should answer thereunto. And forasmuch as his judges, and certain cardinals, as the cardinal of Cambray, the cardinal de Ursinis, the cardinal of Aquilegia, and the cardinal of Florence, considering the malice of the enemies of Master Jerome, did see the great injury that was done unto him, they laboured before the whole council for his delivery.

It happened on a certain day, as they were labouring in the council for the delivery of the said Master Jerome, that the Germans and Bohemians, his enemies, with all force and power resisted against it, crying out that he should in no case be dismissed. Then started up one called doctor Naso, who said unto the cardinals: "We marvel much of you, most reverend fathers, that your reverences will make intercession for such a wicked heretic, for whose sake we in Bohemia, with the whole clergy, have suffered much trouble and mischief, and peradventure your fatherhoods shall suffer; and I greatly fear, lest you have received some rewards either of the king of Bohemia, or of these heretics."[1] When the cardinals were thus rebuked, they discharged themselves of Master Jerome's cause and matter.

The patriarch of Constantinople gives sentence of death both against Huss, and Jerome of Prague.Then his enemies aforesaid obtained to have other judges appointed, as the patriarch of Constantinople, and a German doctor; forasmuch as they did know that the patriarch was a grievous enemy to Master Jerome, because he being before appointed judge by the council, had condemned John Huss to death.

But Master Jerome would not answer them in prison, requiring to have open audience, because he would there finally declare unto them Huss his mind; neither would he by any means consent unto those private judges. Whereupon the presidents of the council, thinking that the said Master Jerome would renew his recantation before the said audience, and confirm the same, did grant him open audience.

Jerome brought again before the council.In the year of our Lord 1416, the twenty-fifth day of May, which Jerome was the Saturday before the ascension of our Lord, the said Master Jerome was brought unto open audience before the whole council, to the great cathedral church of Constance, where by the commissioners of the council, in behalf of his aforesaid enemies, there were laid against him anew, a hundred and seven articles, to the intent that he should not escape the snare of death, which they provided and laid for him; inasmuch as the judges had before declared that by the saying of the witnesses it was already concluded in the same audience. The day aforesaid, from morning until noon, he answered unto more than forty articles, most subtlely objected against him; denying that he held or maintained any such articles as were either hurtful or false,False witness against Jerome. and affirming that those witnesses had deposed them against him falsely and slanderously, as his most cruel and mortal enemies. In the same session they had not yet proceeded unto death, because that the noon-time drew so fast on, that he could not answer unto the articles. Wherefore, for lack of time sufficient to answer unto the residue of the articles, there was another time appointed, which was the third day after the aforesaid Saturday before the ascension of our Lord; at which time again, early in the morning, he was brought unto the said cathedral church, to answer unto all the residue of the articles.

The dexterity of Jerome in confuting his adversaries.In all which articles, as well those which he had answered unto on the Saturday before, as in the residue, he cleared himself very learnedly; refelling his adversaries (who had no cause, but only of malice and displeasure were set against him, and did him great wrong) in such sort, that they were themselves astonied at his oration, and his refutation of their testimonies brought against him, and with shame enough were put to silence. As when one of them had demanded of him what he thought by the sacrament of the altar, he answered: "Before consecration," said he, it is bread and wine; after the consecration it is the true body and blood of Christ:" adding withal more words according to their catholic faith. Then another rising up: "Jerome," said he, "there goeth a great rumour of thee, that thou shouldest hold bread to remain upon the altar." To whom he pleasantly answered, saying, "that he believed bread to be at the baker's." At which words being spoken, one of the Dominic friars fumishly took on, and said; "What! dost thou deny, that which no man doubteth of?" Whose peevish sauciness Jerome with these words did well repress: "Hold thy peace," said he, "thou monk! thou hypocrite!" And thus the monk, being nipped in the head, sat down dumb. After him started up another, who, with a loud voice, cried out: "I swear," said he "by my conscience, that to be true, that thou dost deny." To whom said Jerome again, speaking in Latin: "Heus sic jurare per conscientiam tutissima fallendi via est." That is, "Thus to swear by your conscience is the next way to deceive." Another there was, a spiteful and a bitter enemy of his, whom he called by no other name than dog or ass. After he had thus refuted them one after another, that they could find no crime against him, neither in this matter, nor in any other, they were all driven to keep silence.

False witnesses.This done, then were the witnesses called for, who coining in presence gave testimony unto the articles before produced; by reason whereof the innocent cause of Jerome was oppressed, and began in the council to be concluded. Then Jerome rising up began to speak: "Forasmuch," saith he, "as you have heard mine adversaries so diligently hitherto, convenient it is that you should also now hear me to speak for myself." Audience hardlz given to Jerome to speak for himself.Whereupon, with much difficulty, at last audieuce was given in the council for him to say his mind; which being granted, he, from morning to noon continuing, treated of divers and sundry matters, with great learning and eloquence. Who, first beginning with his prayer to God, besought him to give him spirit, ability, and utterance, which might most tend to the profit and salvatiou of his own soul. And so entered he into his oration. The oration of Jerome before the council.

"I know," saith he, "reverend lords! that there have been many excellent men, who have suffered much otherwise than they have deserved; being oppressed with false witnesses, and condemned with wrong judgments." And so, beginning with Socrates, he declared how he was unjustly condemned by his countrymen, neither would he escape when he might; taking from us the fear of two things, which seem most bitter to men, to wit, of imprisonment and death. Plato.

Then he inferred the captivity of Plato, the banishment of Anaxagoras, and the torments of Zeno. Moreover, he brought in the wrongful condemnation of many Gentiles, as the banishment of Rupilius; reciting also the unworthy death of Boetius and of others, of whom Boetius himself doth write.

From thence he came to the examples of the Hebrews, and first began with Moses, Moses.the deliverer of the people, and the lawgiver; how he was oftentimes slandered of his people as being a seducer and contemner of the people. "Joseph also," saith he,Joseph.

Esaias. Daniel.
"for envy was sold by his brethren, and for false suspicion of whoredom was cast into bonds." Besides these, he reciteth Esaias, Daniel, and almost all the prophets, who, as contemners of God, and seditious persons, were oppressed with wrongful condemnation. The prophets.
John Baptist.
From thence he proceeded to the judgement of Susanna, and of divers other besides, who being good and holy men, yet were they unjustly cast away with wrongful sentence. At length he came to John Baptist, and so, in long process, he descended unto our Saviour, declaring Susanna, how it was evident to all men, by what false witnesses both he and John Baptist were condemned. Moreover, how Stephen was slain by the college of the priests, The apostles.and how all the apostles were condemned to death, not as good men, but as seditious stirrers up of the people, and comtenmers of the gods, and evil doers. "It is unjust," saith he, "unjustly to be condemned one priest of another:" and yet he proved that the same hath so happened most unjustly in that council of priests. These things did he discourse at large, with marvellous eloquence, and with singular admiration of all that heard him.

The false witnesses of Jerome refuted.And forasmuch as all the whole sum of the cause did rest only in the witnesses, by many reasons he proved that no credit was to be given unto them, especially seeing they spake all things of no truth, but only of hatred, malice, and envy. And so prosecuting the matter, so lively and expressly he opened unto them the causes of their hatred, that he had almost persuaded them. So lively and likely their hatred was detected, that almost no trust was given to their testimonies, save only for the cause and quarrel wherein they stood, touching the pope's doctrine. All men^s minds here were moved and bending to mercy towards him; for he told them how that he of his own accord came up to the council, and, to purge himself, he did open unto them all his life and doings, being full of virtue and godliness. "This was," saith he, "the old manner of ancient and learned men and most holy elders, that in matters of faith they did differ many times in arguments, not to destroy the faith, but to find out the verity. So did Augustine and Jerome dissent, not only being diverse ; but also contrary one from the other, and yet without all suspicion of heresy."

All this while the pope's holy council did wait still, when he would begin to excuse himself, and to retract those things which were objected against him, and to crave pardon of the council. But he, persisting still in his constant oration, did acknowledge no error, nor gave any signification of retractation.

Jerome commendeth the life, and bewaileth the death of John Huss.At last, entering into the praise and commendation of Master John Huss, he affirmed that he was a good, just, and holy man, and much unworthy that death which he did suffer; whom he did know from his youth upward, to be neither fornicator, drunkard, neither any evil or vicious person, but a chaste and sober man, and a just and true preacher of the holy gospel; and whatsoever things Master John Huss and Wickliff had holden or written, especially against the abuse and pomp of the clergy, he would affirm even unto the death, that they were holy and blessed men; and that in all points of the catholic faith he doth believe as the holy catholic church doth hold or believe. And finally he did conclude, that all such articles as John Wickliff and John Huss had written and put forth against the enormities, pomp, and disorder, of the prelates, he would firmly and steadfastly, without recantation, hold and defend even unto the death. And, last of all, he added, that all the sins that ever he had committed, did not so much gnaw and trouble his conscience, as did that only sin, which he had committed in that most pestiferous fact, when, in his recantation, he had unjustly spoken against that good and holy man and his doctrine; and especially in consenting unto Jerome his wicked condemnation: Jerome repenteth his speaking agains John Huss.concluding, that he did utterly revoke and deny that wicked recantation which he made in that most cursed place, and that he did it through weakness of heart and fear of death; and, moreover, that whatsoever thing he hath spoken against that blessed man, he hath altogether lied upon him, and that he doth repent him with his whole heart that ever he did it.

And at the hearing hereof the hearts of the hearers were not a little sorry, for they wished and desired greatly that such a singular man should be saved, if otherwise their blind superstition would have suffered it. But he continued still in his prefixed sentence, seeming to desire death, rather than life. Huss never maintained any doctrine against the church of Rome, but only spake against their naughty life.And persisting in the praise of John Huss, he added moreover, that he never maintained any doctrine against the state of the church, but only spake against the abuses of the clergy, against the pride, pomp, and excess of the prelates; forasmuch as the patrimonies of the churches were first given for the poor, then for hospitality, and thirdly to the reparations of the churches: "It was a grief to that good man," said he," to see the same mispent and cast away upon harlots, great feastings, and keeping of horses and dogs, upon gorgeous apparel, and such other things unbeseeming christian religion." And herein he showed himself marvellous eloquent; yea never more.

Jerome puts them to silence.And when his oration was interrupted many times by divers of them carping at his sentences as he was speaking, yet was there none of all those that interrupted him who escaped unblancked; but he brought them all to confusion, and put them to silence. When any noise began, he ceased to speak, and, after, began again, proceeding in his oration, and desiring them to give him leave awhile to speak, whom they hereafter should hear no more; neither yet was his mind ever dashed at all these noises and tumults.

How long Jerome was in prison.
His excellent memory.
And this was marvellous in him to behold; notwithstanding he continued in strait prison three hundred and forty days, having neither book, nor almost light to read by, yet how admirably his memory served him, declaring how all those pains of his strait handling did so much grieve him, as he did wonder rather to see their unkind humanity towards him.

When he had spoken these and many things as touching the praise of John Wickliff, and John Huss, they who sat in the council whispered together, saying: "By these his words it appeareth that he is at a point with himself." Then was he again carried into prison, and grievously fettered by the hands, arms, and feet, with great chains and fetters of iron.

Jerome brought again before the council.The Saturday next before the Ascension-day, early in the morning, he was brought with a great number of armed men unto the cathedral church before the open congregation, to have his judgment given him. There they exhorted him that those things which he had before spoken in the open audience, as is aforesaid, touching the praise and commendation of Master John Wickliff, and Master John Huss, confirming and establishing their doctrine, he would yet recant the same. But he, marvellous stoutly, without all fear spake against them, and, amongst other tilings, said unto them: Jerome holdeth all the articles of the catholic church."I take God to my witness, and I protest here before you all, that I do believe and hold the articles of the faith, as the holy catholic church doth hold and believe the same; but for this cause shall I now be condemned, for that I will not consent with you unto the condemnation of those most holy and blessed men aforesaid, whom you have most wickedly condemned for certain articles, detesting and abhorring your wicked and abominable life." His eloquence.Then he confessed there before them all his belief, and uttered many things very profoundly and eloquently, insomuch that all men there present could not sufficiently commend and praise his great eloquence and excellent learning: and by no means could they induce or persuade him to recant.

Then a certain bishop, named the bishop of Londe, made a certain sermon exhortative against Master Jerome, persuading to his condemnation.

His prophesy.After the bishop had ended the said sermon. Master Jerome said again unto them; "You will condemn me wickedly and unjustly. But I, after my death, will leave a remorse in your conscience, and a nail in your hearts: 'Et cito vos omnes, ut respondeatis mihi coram altissimo et justissimo Judice post centum annos." That is; "And here I cite you to answer unto me before the most high and just Judge, within a hundred years."

No pen can sufficiently write, or note those things which he most eloquently, profoundly, and philosophically, had spoken in the said audience, neither can any tongue sufficiently declare the same; wherefore I have but only touched here the superficial matter of his talk, partly, and not wholly, noting the same. Finally, when by no means he might be persuaded to recant the premises, immediately, even in his presence, the sentence and judgment of his condemnation was given against him, and read before him.

  1. "Si dimittis hunc non es amicus Cæsaris.