The History of the Bohemian Persecution/Chapter 92

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The History of the Bohemian Persecution  (1650)  by Johan Amos Comenius, translated by Anonymous
Chapter 92

Chap. XCII.

SHortly after the taking of Prague, the Catholique Citizens were cited by the Kings Judges, and examined upon oath, to declare if any of them knew that the Evangelists had stubbornely spoke or done any thing; which, as every one answered, for truth or affection-sake, were received as Oracles, and afterwards became the cause of death to many, even alltogether innocent.

2. An Act or Decree was published unto the rest of the Citizens (who thought themselves received into favour) in the year 1624. Febr. 23. That they had forfeited their Estates by their Rebellion; neverthelesse sar desired not that they should be altogether sequestred, but that every one should contribute part of his fortunes to support the warres. And here an exact estimate of their possessions was required of every one of them upon oath: And according to this confession (or also by a suspition or guess which they had, from their ready money) a ransome of favour was imposed upon each of them, (for the obtaining of Pardon, as they called it;but indeed, that they might undoe him:) a hundred, two hundred, a thousand, two, three, four, six, &c. thousand florences, were straightwayes or at certain dayes to be paid.

3. Afterwards all Non-Catholiques were (April 15.) forbid to be enrolled in the City-Catalogue: As for those which were inscribed since the yeare 1618. all trading and negotiation was prohibited them. By which Thunderbolt some were brought to faint heartednesse, and others to poverty.'

4. Shortly after (to wit, May 29.) Letters were hung upon the doores of the CommonHalls in all Cities, the tenour whereof was thus:

The most illustrious Prince, Lord Charles of Lichtenstein, &c. hath understood by credible persons, that certain of the late exiled Preachers, do not onely lurk privily in the Cities belonging to the people of Prague, but also exercise divine service about the Houses, Gardens and Vineyards, and thereby do draw away the People from their lawful obedience unto the Magistrate. which thing, since it can be no way agreeable to his illustrious Highnesse for the dangerous example of Rebellion lately raised; he therefore strictly chargeth the Judges of his sacred Majesty, that they be most diligently watchfull, and whensoever they find any Conventicles, straightwaies taking with them publicke officers to breake into those houses (without respect of persons,) and having apprehended the persons to arrest them; whether Predicants, Readers or Singers. Hee hath also understood that Piccardy Songs and Rimes, composed under the name of Psalmes are sung up and down; not onely privadly, but even publickly in Villages and streets. They are therefore diligendy to observe that it be amended, and that nothing but what is allowed by the Catholicke church, bee said or sung by any man. And as great circumspection is to be used, that all Schoole-masters not Catholick, be expelled out of the houses in all Cities and if they shall be caught for the future, that they be hailed to prison and punishment, &c.

5. Another Edict succeeded, Sept. 13. yet somwhat more moderare, whereby the Kings benevolence and all their priviledges were declared to be performed unto the people of Prague after payment of the Tax: with both of which notwithstanding they rejoiced not long, for (that I speake not of continuall vexations for Religion sake) there issued forth in the year following, from the Officers of the Kingdom, unto the Counſells at Prague this same Decree. [The supreame Officers and Judges of the Kingdome, in the name and place of his Sacred Majesty, doe command by their Commissioners chosen for this purpose, the Consul and Senate of Prague the lesse, and also of old and new &c. that they perfectly instruct all Non-catholick Citizens, called into the Court, of the finall will and pleasure of the Kings Majesty, which is no other, than that all men renouncing their heresie, doe betake themselves into the Church. But if any shalbe found refractorily obstinate, they shall signifie unto them that they are to be not onely cashiered the City, but also deprived of all means of getting their livelihood. Decreed in the Chancellors Court in Bohemia, in the yeare 1626. Feb. 13.

6. In the yeare beginning 1627. There were supream Commissaries for Religion chosen by the Emperour: whose names, wee have before recited. These therefore entring upon their Commission from those at Prague, do send a decree to the Chieftaines of the Cities of Prague: wherein after a large commendation of the Kings fatherly care for the good of his subjects, as also of the Learning, Godlinesse, zeale, and watchfulnesse, of the Spirituall Pastors (whereof there was such abundance at Prague, and throughout the whole Kingdome: and lastly of his wonderfull clemency, and forbearance heretofore used toward hereticks and on the contrary lamenting the hereticks great obstinacy: do now seriously protest to act for the Kings sacred Majesty and for him onely. They do therefore command, that each of them do cause the citizens in the Cities committed to them, to be catalogued and carefully sent unto them, and distributed into four rancks. In the first order the native Catholicks are to be inscribed, in the second, those that were lately converted: in the third those that have given good hopes of their conversion, and in the last the obstinate, &c. Given as above said.

7. These chief Officers give the commands unto the Kings Judges: they to the Tribuns of the people and Senators, and these walking from doore to doore; examin the father and mother of the family, the man and maide-servants, and all other the Inhabitants in every house, and aske them in what order they would be placed, and so did accordingly. These Catalogues thus made, are brought to the Commissaries: who when they find but few of the first, second, or third Order, they consult with great anxiety what is necessary to be done to such a troupe of Heretickes, that all tumults may be prevented. Ar length they conclude that the heads should bee removed, viz. That those men which were of any rule and authority with the people should be expelled.

8. The beginning was effected upon four venerable, grave Citizens of Old Prague, the thundering Edict against them (ommitting Court complements) runs thus

VVHereas with grief of heart we have observed certaine persons of Prague, to be of such incorrigible obstinacy as that the Kings Majesties most indulgent care, and all his fatherly admonitions for their good being nothing set by, they proudly refuse good and wholsom instruction, and as men incurable, admit of no counsell, thereby giving a dangerous example unto others, which would suffer themselves more willingly to be amended. In which number since, there are noted: Iohn Theodore Sixtus, Iohn Peldrzimowsky, Abraham Angel, and Iohn Iacob Heydon, We give command to the worthy Ioachim Salwate, Baron of Chlum &c. Chieftaine of the old City Prague, that he give commission to the Kings Judge for the aforesaid City, the Consul and Senat, to call the foure fore-mentioned persons before them, and to set a peremptory term of time before the last day of that moneth, if peradventure they will repent. But if they will persist in their blindnes and obstinacy; Wee will and straightly command, that they depart before the seting of the Sun the same day, not onely from Prague, but forthwith out of the whole Kingdome. Neverthelesse before they depart, they shall pay their debts and also their fine for Rebellion to the Kings Majesty, if they have not before fully payed it.

Finally, wee command that the aforesaid Chieftain, the Kings Judge, and the Senate sworne by Catholicks, do tax all their goods, moveable and immoveable, and accordingly deduct a part thereof for the payment of the publicke Faith, and to lend the other part with the residue of the fines. As for the rest of the Inhabitants of the Cities of Prague, wee will that they be seriously admonished, that they by these example may at length learne wisdome and prevent the like punishment; as knowing that the good will and pleasure of his most Sacred Majesty will bee thereby satisfied. Dated ar Prague by the Commissioners for Reformation July 12. 1627.

9. The Exiles in a small Petition complaining of the too short time allotted them for to dispose of their Goods, earnestly requested the terme might bee lengthened: But it was answered them by another decree (23. of July) that this their request was a meer cousenage, that nothing indeed might be granted. Nevertheless, lest there should remaine any cause of complaint, the terme appointed should bee prolonged 14 dayes; yet with this condition, that in the interim, they promise seriously to study and bee taught the Catholick Religion, or if they shall not have perfectly learned it within the space of 14 dayes limited, that they prepare themselves for prison. They being affrighted with this edict, and seeing all hopes of mercy gone, made hast to depart, leaving their Wives to order their businesses. Howbeit, against them also they shot their darts, for a new Edict is proclaimed (August 23.) to this effect: Whereas it was never the Kings Majesties pleasure to institute a divorce between man and wife, thetefore it is ordered that every woman follow her owne husband, unlesse she be minded to turn Catholick.

10. After the same method having banished other Citizens of chiefest note and esteeme, sometimes fewer, at other times more, sometimes seventy together contained in the same act, after they had expelled some hundreds, they desisted; supposing that the rest might be more easily compelled: even as it came to passe. For by these imprisonments, & other pressures (such as we shall speak of happening to other Cities) were brought to universall Apostacy, some few onely excepted, which fled of their owne accord. And thus the three-fold City Prague, most populous, and alwayes hating and disdaining the Pope, is now, though most unwillingly and with great reluctancy, made Antichrists harlot.