The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/The Sentence read against Jerome

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The Sentence read against Jerome.

In the name of God, Amen. Christ our God and our Saviour, being the true vine, whose Father is the husbandman, taught his disciples, and all other faithful men, saying: 'If any man dwell not in me, let him be cast out as a bough or branch, and let him wither and dry,' &c. The doctrine and precepts of which most excellent Doctor and Master this most sacred synod of Constance executing and following in the cause of inquisition against heretics, being moved by this sacred synod, through report, public fame, and open infamation, proceeding against Jerome of Prague, master of arts, lay-man. By the acts and processes of whose cause it appeareth that the said Master Jerome hath holden, maintained, and taught divers articles heretical and erroneous, lately reproved and condemned by the holy fathers, some being very blasphemous, others offending godly ears, and many temerarious and seditious, which have been affirmed, maintained, preached and taught by the men of most damnable memory, John Wickliff and John Huss; which are also written in divers of their works and books. Which articles of doctrine and books of the said John Huss and John Wickliff, together with their memory, and the person of the said John Huss, were by the said sacred synod condemned of heresy. Which sentence of condemnation this Jerome afterwards, during the time of inquisition, acknowledged in the said sacred synod, and approved the true catholic and apostolic faith, thereunto consenting; accursing all heresy, especially that whereof he was infamed, and confessed himself to be infamed, and that which in times past John Huss and John Wickliff maintained and taught in their works, sermons, and books; for which the said Wickliff and Huss, together with their doctrine and errors, were by the said sacred synod as heretical condemned. The condemnation of all which the premises he did openly profess and allow, and did swear that he would persevere and continue in the verity of that faith; and, that if he should presume at any time to hold opinion, or preach contrary thereunto, that he would submit himself to the trial and truth of the canons, and be bound to perpetual punishment. And this his profession, written with his own hand, he delivered up unto the holy council. Many days after his said profession and abjuration, as a dog returning unto his vomit, to the intent he might openly vomit up the most pestilent poison which had long lurked and lien hid in his breast, he required and desired that he might be openly heard before the council. Which being granted unto him, he affirmed, said, and professed, before the whole synod, being publicly gathered together, that he had wickedly consented and agreed to the sentence and judgment of the condemnation of the said Wickliff and Huss, and that he had most shamefully lied in approving and allowing the said sentence; neither was he ashamed to confess that he had lied: yea, he did also revoke and recant his confession, approbation, and protestation, which he had made upon their condemnation, affirming that he never at any time had read any errors or heresy in the books and treatises of the said Wickliff and Huss; albeit he had before confessed it, and it is evidently proved, that he did diligently study, read, and preach their books, wherein it is manifest that there are contained many errors and heresies. Also the said Master Jerome did profess, as touching the sacrainent of the altar, and the transubstantiation of the bread into the body of Christ, that he doth hold and believe as the church doth hold and believe, saying also that he doth give more credit unto St. Augustine and the other doctors of the church, than unto Wickliff and Huss. It appeareth moreover by the premises, that the said Jerome is an adherent and maintainer of the said Wickliff and Huss, and of their errors, and both is and hath been a favourer of them. Wherefore the said sacred synod determineth the said Master Jerome, as a rotten and withered branch, not growing upon the vine, to be cut off and cast out. The said synod also pronounceth, declareth, and condemneth him, as a heretic and drowned in all kind of heresies, excommunicate and accursed; Jerome left to the secular power.leaving him unto the arbitrement and judgment of the secular judge, to receive just and due punishment, according to the quality of so great an offence; the sacred synod notwithstanding entreating, that the said judge would moderate his sentence of judgment without peril of death.

A paper with red devils put upon the head of Jerome by devilish papists.Which sentence so given before his face, and ended, a great and long mitre of paper was brought unto him, painted about with red devils; which when he beheld and saw, throwing away his hood upon the ground amongst the prelates, he took the mitre and put it upon his head, saying: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he should suffer death for me most wretched sinner, did wear a crown of thorns upon his head; and I, for his sake, instead of that crown, will willingly wear this mitre and cap." Afterwards he was laid hold of by the secular power.

Jerome committed to the secular power.
Jerome passeth on singing, unto his martyrdom.
After that, he was led out of the said church to the place of execution: when he was going out of the church, with a cheerful countenance and a loud voice, lifting his eyes up unto heaven, he began to sing; "Credo in unum Deum," as it is accustomed to be sung in the church. Afterwards, as he passed along, he did sing some canticles of the church, which being ended, in the entering out of the gate of the city, as men go unto Gottlieben, he did sing this hymn, "Felix namque." And that respond being ended, after he came to the place of execution where Master John Huss before had suffered death innocently, kneeling down before an image which was like unto the picture of Master John Huss, He prayeth.which was there prepared to burn Master Jerome, he made a certain devout prayer.

While he was thus praying, the tormentors took him up, and lifting him up from the ground, spoiled him of all his garments, and left him naked; and afterwards girded him about the loins with a linen cloth, and bound him fast with cords and chains of iron, to the said image which was made fast unto the earth. Jerome tied to an image like to John Huss. He singeth at his burning. The words of Jerome to the people. Jerome giveth testimony of John Huss.And so standing upon Jerome the ground, when they began to lay the wood about him, he sung "Salve festa dies." And when the hymn was ended, he sung again, with a loud voice, "Credo in unum Deum," unto the end. That being ended, he said unto the people, in the German tongue, in effect as followeth. "Dearly beloved children! even as I have now sung, so do I believe, and none otherwise; and this creed is my whole faith, notwithstanding now I die for this cause, because I would not consent and agree to the council, and with them affirm and hold that Master John Huss was by them holily and justly condemned; for I did know well enough that he was a true preacher of the gospel of Jesu Christ."

After that he was compassed in with the wood up to the crown of the head, they cast all his garments upon the wood also, and with a firebrand they set it on fire; which being once fired, he began to sing with a loud voice, "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum." When that was ended, and he began vehemently to burn, he said in the vulgar Bohemian tongue: The last words of Jerome."O Lord God, Father The last Almighty! have mercy upon me, and be merciful unto mine offences; for thou knowest how sincerely I have loved thy truth." Then his voice, by the vehemency of the fire, was choked and stopped, that it was no longer heard, but he moved continually his mouth and lips, as though he had still prayed or spoken within himself.

The cruelty of his death.When in a manner his whole body with his beard was burned round about, and that there appeared through the great burning upon his body certain great bladders as big as an egg, yet he continually very strongly and stoutly moved, and shaked his head and mouth, by the space almost of one quarter of an hour. So burning in the fire, he lived with great pain and martyrdom, while one might easily have gone from St. Clement's over the bridge unto our lady-church: he was of such a stout and strong nature  After he was thus dead in the fire, by and by they brought his bedding, his straw-bed, his boots, his hood, and all other things that he had in the prison, and burned them all to ashes in the same fire; His ashes cast into the river Rhine.which ashes, after the fire was out, they did diligently gather together, and carry them in a cart, and cast them into the river Rhine, which ran hard by the city.

The witness of the writer.That man who was the true reporter hereof, and who testified unto us the acts and doings about the condemnation of Master Jerome, and sent the same unto us to Prague in writing, doth thus conclude. "All these things," said he, "I did behold, see, and hear to be done in this form and manner. And if any man do tell you the contrary, do not credit him; for all those things which happened unto him when he came toward Constance, and also at his first coming unto Constance, of his own free will, and afterwards when he was brought bound unto Constance, as is aforesaid, I myself did see and perfectly behold; and, for a perpetual memory thereof to be had for ever, I have directed the same unto you, not lying or falsifying any point thereof; as He, who is the searcher of all men's hearts, can bear me witness; willing rather to sustain the note of ignorance and rudeness of style, to bear witness unto the truth, than I would by any means be compelled, by tickling or flattering the ears of the hearers with feigned and cloked speech, to swerve or go aside from the truth of this story."

Thus end the tragical histories of Master John Huss, and Master Jerome of Prague, faithfully gathered and collected by a certain Bohemian, being a present witness and beholder of the same; written and compiled first in Latin, and so sent by the said Bohemian into his country of Bohemia, and again translated out of the Latin, with like fidelity, into our English tongue.

In the meantime, while Master Jerome was in this trouble, and before the council, the nobles and lords of Bohemia and of Moravia (but not a little aggrieved thereat) directed their letters unto this barbarous council of popish murderers, in tenor and form of words as followeth.