The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Citation of Jerome to the Council of Constance

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The Citation of Jerome of Prague to the Council of Constance.

Jerome cited by the council when he was taken.This most sacred and holy synod and general council of Constance, faithfully congregated and gathered together in the Holy Ghost, representing the unversal militant church, unto Jerome of Prague, who writeth himself to be a master of arts of so many universities, and pretendeth those things which are only pertaining unto sobriety and modesty, and that he knoweth no more than he ought, &c. Know thou that there is a certain writing come unto our understanding and knowledge, which was set up, as it were, by thine own person upon the gates of the churches and city of Constance, upon the Sunday, when there was sung in the church of God, 'Quasi modo geniti;' wherein thou dost affirm, that thou wilt openly answer unto thy accusers and slanderers who shall object any crime, error or heresy against tliee, whereof thou art marvellously infamed and accused before us; and specially touching the doctrine of Wickliff, and other doctrines contrary to the catholic faith: so that thou mightest have granted unto thee a safe conduct to come. But, forasmuch as it is our part principally and chiefly to foresee and look unto these crafty foxes who go about to destroy the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, therefore we do cite and call forth by the tenor of these presents, thy person manifoldly defamed and suspected for the temerarious affirming and teaching of manifold errors; so that within the term of fifteen days to be accounted from the date of these presents, whereof five days are appointed for the first term, five for the second, and other five for the third, we do ordain and appoint, by canonical admonition and warning, that thou do appear in the public sessions of the sacred council, if there be any holden, in the same day, or else the first day immediately following, when any session shall be, according to the tenor of thy said writing, to answer to those things which any person or persons shall object or lay against thee in any cause of thy faith, and to receive and have, as justice shall require. Whereupon, so much as in us lieth, and as catholic faith shall require, we offer and assign to thee, by the tenor hereof, our safe conduct from all violence (justice always being saved); certifying thee, that whether thou dost appear or not, the said term or time appointed notwithstanding, process shall go forward against thee by the said sacred council, or by their commissary or commissaries, for the time aforesaid not observed and kept; thy contumacy or stubbornness in any thing notwithstanding.

Given in the sixth session of the general council, the seventeenth day of April, under the seal of the presidents of the four nations.

Grumpert Faber, Notary of the Germans.

After Sigismund king of Hungary, with the rest of the council, understood by the aforesaid duke John,[1] that Master Jerome was taken, they were earnestly in hand, requiring that Master Jerome should be brought before them unto the council; which duke John, after he had received letters of the king and the council, brought Master Jerome bound unto Constance,Jerome is brought bound unto Constance by duke John. whom his brother duke Louis led through the city, to the cloisters of the friars minor in Constance, where the chief priests and elders of the people (Scribes and Pharisees) were gathered together, attending and waiting lor his coming. He, the said Master Jerome, carried a great handbolt of iron with a long chain in his hand, and as he passed, the chain made a great rattling and noise, and for the more confusion and despite towards him, they led him by the same chain after duke Louis aforesaid, holding and stretching out the same a great way from him; with which chain they also kept him bound in the cloister. When he was brought into the cloister, they read before him the letter of duke John, which was sent with the said Master Jerome to the council, containing in effect, how that the said duke John had sent Master Jerome to the council (who by chance was fallen into his hands), because he heard an evil report of him, that he was suspected of the heresies of Wickliff; that the council might take order for him, whose part it was to correct and punish such as did err and stray from the truth: besides many other flattering tales which were written in the said letter in praise of the council. After this they read the citation which was given out by the council against Master Jerome, whereof we have spoken before. Then certain of the bishops said unto him: "Jerome! why didst thou fly and run away, and didst not appear when thou wast cited?" The council neither would give him liberty safely to come, nor freely to go.He answered: "Because I could not have any safe conduct, neither from you, neither from the king, as it appeareth by these letters patent of the barons, which you have; neither by mine open intimations could I obtain any safe conduct. Wherefore I, perceiving many of my grievous and heavy friends to be here present in the council, would not myself be the occasion of my perils and dangers; but if I had known or had any understanding of this citation, without all doubt, albeit I had been in Bohemia, I would have returned again." Then all the whole rabble rising up, alleged divers and sundry accusations and testimonies against him with a great noise and tumult. When the rest held their peace, then spake Master Gerson, the chancellor of Paris: Jerome accused by Mr. Gerson, with commendation of his eloquence."Jerome, when thou wast at Paris, thou thoughtest thyself, by means of thy eloquence, to be an angel, and didst trouble the whole university; alleging openly in the schools, many erroneous conclusions with their ‘corolaria,’ and especially in the question 'De universalibus et de idæis,' with many other very offensive questions." Unto whom Master Jerome said: "I answer to you, Master Gerson, that those matters which I did put forth there, in the schools at Paris, in which also I answered to the arguments of the masters, I did put them forth philosophically, and as a philosopher and master of the university; and if I have put forth any questions which I ought not to have put forth, teach me that they be erroneous, and I will most humbly be informed, and amend the same."

The master of the university o Cologne would accuse, but he lacked matter.While he was yet speaking, another (as I suppose, the master of the university of Cologne, upon the river Rhine), rising up, said: "When thou wast also at Cologne, in thy position which thou didst there determine, thou didst propound many erroneous matters." Then said Master Jerome unto him: "Show me first one error which I propounded." Wherewithal he, being in a manner astonished, said: "I do not remember them now at the first, but hereafter they shall be objected against you." And by and by the third man, rising up, said: The master of the university of the Heidelberg."When you were also at Heidelberg, you propounded many erroneous matters as touching the Trinity, and there painted out a certain shield or escutcheon, comparing the Trinity of Persons in Divinity to water, snow, and ice, and such like." Unto whom Master Jerome answered; "Those things that I wrote or painted there, the same will I also speak, write, and paint here; and teach me that they be erroneous, and I will most humbly revoke and recant the same."

Then certain cried out: "Let him be burned, let him be burned."[2] Unto whom he answered: "If my death do delight or please you, in the name of God let it be so." Then said the archbishop of Saltzburg; "Not so, Master Jerome, 'forasmuch as it is written, I will not the death of a sinner, but rather he be converted and live.'" When these and many other tumults and cries were passed, whereby they did then most disorderly and outrageously witness against him, they delivered the said Master Jerome, being bound, unto the officers of the city of Coiistance, to be carried to prison for that night; and so every one of them returned to his lodgings.

In the mean time, one of the friends of Master John Huss, looking out at a window of the cloister, said unto him: "Master Jerome." Then said he, "You are welcome, my dear brother." Jerome is comforted by the notary.Then said Peter unto him; "Be constant, and fear not to suffer death for the truth's sake, of which, when you were in times past at liberty, you did preach so much goodness." Unto whom Jerome answered: "Truly, brother, I do not fear death; and forasmuch as we know that we have spoken much thereof in times past, let us now see what may be known or done in effect." By and by his keepers, coming to the window, threatening him with strokes, did put away the said Peter from the window of the cloister.

Vitus, the companion of John de Clum.Then came there one Vitus unto Master Jerome, and saith, "Master, how do you do?" Unto whom he answered, "Truly, brother, I do very well." Then his keepers coming about him, laid hold of the said Vitus, saying, "This is also one of the number,"[3] and kept him. When it drew towards evening, the archbishop of Reigen sent certain of his servants who led away Master Jerome, Jerome straitly bound hand and foot.being strougly bound with chains, both by the hands and by the neck, and kept him so for certain hours. When night drew on, they carried him unto a certain tower of the city, in St. Paul's churchyard, where, tying him fast unto a great block, and his feet in the stocks, his hands also being made fast upon them, they left him; where the block was so high, that he could by no means sit thereupon, but that his head must hang downward. Vitus had to the archbishop of Reigen.

Vitus bound by oath.
They carried also the said Vitus to the archbishop of Reigen, who demanded of him. Why he durst be so bold to talk with such a man, being a reprobate of all men, and a heretic? and when he could find no cause of imprisonment in him, and that he said he was Master John de Clum's friend (taking an oath and promise of him, that he should not go about to endamage the council by reason of that imprisonment and captivity), he dismissed him and sent him away.

Jerome hanging in the stocks, is fed with bread and water. Peter bringeth meat to Jerome.Master Jerome, unknown unto us whither he was carried, lay in the said tower two days and two nights, relieved only with bread and water. Then one of his keepers, coming unto Master Peter, declared unto him how that Master Jerome lay hard by, in bonds and chains, and how he was fed. Then Master Peter desired that he might have leave given him to give him meat, because he would procure the same unto him. The keeper of the prison, granting his request, carried meat unto him. Within eleven days after, so hanging by the heels, he used so small repast, that he fell sore sick even unto death. Jerome, in great sickness, calleth for a confessor.
Kept in prison the space of a year.
When he, living then in that captivity and prison, desired to have a confessor, they of the council denied that he should have any, until such time as by great importunity he obtained to have one; his friends being then there present in the same prison and tower, wherein he then lay by the space of one year, lacking but seven days.

After they had put John Huss to death, then, about the feast of the nativity of Mary the Virgin, they brought forth Master Jerome whom they had kept so long in chains, unto the church of St. Paul; and, threatening him with death, being instant upon him, they forced him to abjure and recant, and consent unto the death of Master John Huss, that he was justly and truly condemned and put to death by them. He, what for fear of death, and hoping thereby to escape out of their hands, according to their will and pleasure, and according to the tenor which was exhibited unto him, did make abjuration, and that in the cathedral church and open session; the draft whereof, penned for him by the papists, here ensueth.

  1. This duke John in histories is commonly called the son of Clement.
  2. "Crucifige, crucifige eum."
  3. " Et tu de illis es." Luc. xxii.