The Hussite Wars/Chapter 8
The battle of Lipany was primarily a victory for the Emperor Sigismund. All men who now played a part in the political life of Bohemia agreed, some perhaps reluctantly, that their country must accept Sigismund as king. The King, on the other hand, seems with increasing age to have become more and more eager to enter into possession of his Bohemian kingdom. This is proved by the interview which he granted to Prokop the Great at Pressburg, and by his negotiations with the Orphans and Táborites during the weeks that preceded the battle of Lipany. The theological discussions at basel, turning mainly on the interpretation of the compacts, continued uninterruptedly, though their interest was for a time eclipsed by that of the civil war. In matters of theology Sigismund now displayed a conciliatory spirit, and appeared ready to use his influence to obtain large concessions for the Bohemians, if they consented to recognise him as their sovereign. It is, however, more than doubtful whether these offers were sincere.
The members of the Council of Basel considered, or affected to consider, the battle of Lipany as a great victory of the Roman Catholic Church, A Te Deum was sung in the cathedral of Basel as soon as the news of the battle arrived there. Their judgment was somewhat erroneous. The Utraquist nobles, no longer fearing that their country might become the prey of anarchists, began again to devote their attention to the religious controversy. They were determined to uphold the articles of Prague and to enforce the recognition of the compacts in a shape as near as possible to the articles from which they had been derived. It also appears probable that after the battle of Lipany a secret agreement between the Utraquist lords and the nobles “sub una” was concluded, according to which the former consented to accept Sigismund as king, while the latter agreed to support to a certain extent the religious demands of the Utraquists. A modern German Protestant writer, therefore, correctly states that from the religious standpoint, not the Church of Rome, but Rokycan and the Hussite High Church were victorious at Lipany. The greater part of the life of Rokycan, who was elected Archbishop of Prague, belongs to a later period, but it may be stated here that if any man could have established a Bohemian national Church forming part of the universal Church it was Archbishop Rokycan.
It was mentioned in the last chapter that when the envoys of the Council left Prague in January 1434 Martin Lupač, parish priest of Chrudian, accompanied them as representative of the Bohemian diet. The envoys of the Council at the moment when they left Bohemia probably already foresaw the downfall of the advanced party in the country. They therefore assumed a somewhat intransigent attitude. When Lupač, who had left Prague somewhat later than the envoys, joined them at Cheb they informed him that, if was he proceeding to Basel to demand further concessions, it would be as well if he did not undertake the journey. Lupač, none the less, proceeded to Basel. Some time before the envoys of the Council left Prague they had sent one of their number, Martin Berruer, Dean of Tours, to the Council to report on the state of the negotiations. He stated that the Bohemian Diet had accepted the compacts in the amended form in which the ambassadors of the Council had presented them to that assembly. This was undoubtedly untrue, though such a statement may have been made to Berruer by some of the envoys. He also appears, no doubt impressed by the general indignation against the Táborites which he had observed in Prague, to have believed that the disposition of the Utraquists was far more conciliatory than was actually the case. On the February 16 Martin Lupač was received by the Council. He expounded the claims of the Bohemians, which at that moment centred in the demand that Communion in the two kinds should be obligatory in the whole kingdom of Bohemia and in the margraviate of Moravia. This was the point on which, for reasons that I have previously mentioned, the Council was determined to make no concessions. The arguments of Lupač, who maintained the necessity of uniformity in Bohemia in this matter, were strongly opposed by Archdeacon Palomar. He laid great stress on the fact that, as previously mentioned, the negotiators of both parties had in Prague given the hand to one another. He maintained that this signified that an agreement had been concluded, though the diet had passed no act to that purpose, and no agreement could otherwise be considered as valid. After Palomar, the Bishop of Coire, John , spoke in the same sense. , who was a Bohemian by birth, untruthfully stated that King Venceslas had never permitted Utraquist services in three churches in Prague. It was afterwards ascertained that the bishop had left Bohemia some time before King Venceslas had—as previously mentioned—granted that permission. The Council finally decided to accept the view of Palomar, who still maintained that the Bohemians had promised to recognise the Council’s interpretation of the compacts. They then determined to write to the regent, Lord Aleš of Riesenburg. Their letter stated that the Council had learnt with great pleasure from Dean Berruer that the Bohemians had pledged their word to accept the compacts in the form in which they had been sanctioned by the Council of Basel. As to further demands of the Bohemians, no discussion was possible till they showed sincere desire for peace and abandoned all hostilities against the city of Plzeň. It is interesting to note that when this message was shown to King Sigismund he strongly urged the Council to use more menacing language. The Council declined to accept this suggestion. On February 26 Cardinal Cesarini delivered this message for the regent to Martin Lupač at a plenary assembly of the Council. The Bohemian envoy, after protesting against the accusation of double-dealing levelled against his countrymen, maintained that no definite agreement had been made in Prague. He then thanked the Council for its hospitality, and shortly afterwards returned to Prague.
King—now Emperor—Sigismund who had long been expected at Basel, at last arrived there on October 11, 1433. According to the contemporary writers he was during his stay principally occupied with the dissensions that had broken out between the Council and Pope Eugenius, in which he attempted to act as mediator. It is, however, certain that he continued to devote great attention to the affairs of Bohemia. His conduct was marked by his habitual duplicity. It has just been mentioned that when the Council transmitted a message to the estates of Bohemia Sigismund wished to render its wording more menacing. Yet he was almost up to the day of the battle of Lipany attempting to come to a secret understanding with the Táborites; these negotiations were, of course, concealed from the Council. Sigismund’s intervention in the dispute between the Pope and the Council does not, of course, require mention in this work. It is sufficient to state that the Emperor departed from Basel on May 19, 1434, somewhat dissatisfied with the results of his visit. Early in June he arrived at Ulm, where he stayed nearly three months, and where he received the news of the battle of Lipany. He had called the German princes to an imperial diet at Ulm, but as the attendance was very small it was decided to defer the assembly to a later period of the year, and to invite the princes to meet at Regensburg. The Emperor himself proceeded to that city on August 21.
Immediately after the victory of Lipany the Bohemian estates determined to take the necessary steps to re-establish order and tranquillity in their country. This had been the principal inducement for men whose views differed widely on many matters to act in common. Only a few days after the battle of Lipany the Táborite general, Andrew Kerský and Čapek of San, the most talented of the commanders of the Orphans, who had retired to Kolin, though refusing to surrender unconditionally, agreed to take part in the deliberations of the diet, which was to meet at Prague on the day of St. John (June 24). Several prominent nobles and the municipalities of some towns concluded similar treaties with the victorious party. The diet met on the appointed day, and though it only lasted for a fortnight its proceedings have considerable importance. The assembly was very numerous. All the prominent Utraquist nobles, as well as those “sub una,” were present, and many Moravian nobles, knights, and representatives of the Bohemian towns. Čapek of San and Nicholas of Padařov represented respectively the Orphans and Táborites. It was here decided to establish a regular provisional government, which was to remain in office up to the moment when Sigismund would be recognised as king; that this would now happen very shortly was already considered certain by all. Lord Aleš of Riesenburg was now formally re-elected as regent. All present, including the representatives of the Orphans and Táborites, agreed to this. They also, together with the towns and communities who were still in alliance with them, concluded an armistice of a year with the members of the league, and it was hoped that during this period the numerous local contentions would be settled by the regent, to whom full powers were granted with the consent of all.
All contending parties further promised to liberate the prisoners of war whom they had made. The diet limited itself entirely to the discussion of political matters, but as religious questions still largely absorbed the attention of the people, it was decided to convoke an assembly of the clergy of all denominations, which was to begin its sittings on July 25.
Envoys of the Emperor Sigismund were present at the diet, and on their invitation the Bohemians decided to send an embassy to Regensburg, where the Emperor was then expected. The members of the diet then separated with strong assurances of mutual good will. As settled by the diet the divines met on July 25. If we consider the strength of the odium theologicum of those days we are not surprised to read that the proceedings at this assembly were not as harmonious as those of the diet had been. Rokycan read to the assembly a lengthy statement consisting of nineteen “articles,” which, he stated, contained the true doctrine of the Bohemian Church. This extensive document declared that the writings of the Old and New Testaments were to be honoured by all, and that all should in their actions be guided by its teaching. The Bohemian Church accepted the Apostolic, Athanasian and Nicean Creeds and all the teaching of the primitive Church. The third article, confirming the first of the compacts, sanctioned Communion in the two kinds and maintained the true presence of Christ in the Sacrament. The fourth, fifth, and sixth articles were a repetition of the other stipulations contained in the compacts. The seventh and eighth articles declared that the Bohemian Church recognised the seven sacraments, and declared that the holy mass should be celebrated in the form accepted by the Catholic Church. Articles nine, ten, and eleven sanctioned fasting according to the regulations of the Catholic Church, declared that priests should be tonsured and should wear a distinctive clothing, and forbade priests to receive remuneration for the exercise of religious functions. Further articles maintained the existence of purgatory, as taught by the Catholic Church, exhorted the priests to read Scripture diligently and to use the national language in the religious services as far as possible. The eighteenth article sanctioned the veneration of the saints and prayers to them for their intercession, but severely forbade the rendering to them of that worship which is due to God alone. The last article declared that the Bohemian Church, conforming to Scripture, would render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s, and formulated theories that appear very advanced for that period. The reader would almost think that the theory of a “free Church in a free state” was advocated, did he not also read that “the transgressors against God’s law must be punished more severely than those who transgress the laws of men.” Rokycan’s theories, of which it has here been only possible to give a mere outline, are of great. interest, as they to a great extent indicate the views which the Bohemian Church adopted up to its final destruction in 1620. It is true that in the last years previous to that date German Lutheranism had a considerable influence on the Bohemian Utraquists. It is not surprising that the extreme moderation of Rokycan’s view displeased the Táborite divines, but it is less easily explicable that the faction of the Utraquists led by Magister Přibram, which was nearest to Rome in its teaching, also raised objections. Both the Táborites and the doctors of the university, who followed Přibram, formulated their objections in written statements. The assembly then separated without having arrived at an agreement. It was, however, settled that the disputations should be continued on the occasion of the next meeting of the diet in Prague.
On August 10 the Bohemian embassy started for Regensburg. It was very numerous, and included members of the nobility and knighthood and representatives of most of the important Bohemian towns. Including the armed escort, the whole expedition numbered about 400 men. Sigismund, desirous of at last obtaining the Bohemian crown and also of ending the religious controversies, which were now the only obstacle to his accession to the throne, begged the Council also to send representatives to Regensburg. The Council acceded to this demand and sent a very numerous delegation to Regensburg. Among its members were Bishop Philibert of Coutance and two other bishops, Thomas Ebendorfer of Haselbach, Martin Berruer, Henry Toke, Giles Carler, and others whose names have been frequently mentioned. The delegates of the Council arrived at Regensburg on August 16, an hour before the arrival of the Bohemian envoys. The Bohemians, who considered themselves as sent only to negotiate with the Emperor Sigismund, were reluctant to confer with the delegates of the Council, which had so often disappointed them. Several minor incidents contributed to render the relations between the antagonists more strained. Palomar visited the Bohemian envoys and begged them not to assist at the religious services in the churches of Regensburg, as this might cause scandal. Rokycan, as usual acting as spokesmen, said that the Bohemians had endured much blame and suffering because they had upheld the truth, and that they were prepared to suffer yet more, but that his colleagues of the embassy said that it would be better to drive out of the churches degenerate priests rather than pious laymen. Palomar replied that such evil priests must be tolerated till the Church had passed judgment on them. He added that the Council was considering a system of Church reform, but that this matter must be dealt with cautiously. John Velvar, a citizen of Prague and member of the embassy, then said that the Council of Constance had already talked of Church reform, but that nothing had been done. In reply Palomar stated that that Council had re-established unity in the Church, and that everything could not be done at the same time.
On August 21 Sigismund arrived at Regensburg, and on the following day he received first the representatives of Bohemia, then those of the Council. Rokycan as usual spoke in the name of the Bohemians. Sigismund replied very graciously, reminding them that he was their countryman, and that he was the descendant of him whom they had once called from the plough to their throne. The Emperor then received the envoys of the Council. He again declared to them that he did not wish to interfere in questions of doctrine, but would in such matters be guided by their advice; on political matters, however, he would consult his Bohemian councillors. Such a distinction after a prolonged, mainly religious, war and at a time when religious controversies occupied the attention of all was, of course, inadmissible, and in suggesting it Sigismund cannot be acquitted of duplicity. Long discussions on subjects on which so many previous debates had taken place followed. The principal orators were Rokycan and Palomar. The Bohemians still upheld their demand that Communion in the two kinds should be declared obligatory in the kingdom of Bohemia and in the margraviate of Moravia, while Palomar and the other representatives of the Council continued to maintain that at the diet of Prague the Bohemians had already accepted the compacts in the form which had been sanctioned by the Church of Rome. A further difficulty arose with regard to the choice of a new Archbishop of Prague. Since the death of Conrad of Vechta, whom the Utraquists had only recognised as archbishop after he had accepted the articles of Prague, that high office had fallen into abeyance. As the archdiocese would now comprise an almost entirely Utraquist population, the Utraquists proposed that in accordance with the traditions of the primitive Church the new archbishop should be chosen jointly by the clergy and the people (represented by the estates), and that the choice should then be confirmed by the King. There was some justification for this demand; for at that moment a Roman Catholic archbishop would have had no authority over the vast majority of his diocesans; many of them would have become the prey of the anarchical and socialist sects that were numerous at that time. Though Palomar promised some minor concessions, his answer on this important question was evasive. Several minor incidents, such as the one mentioned above; caused the Bohemians to wish to return to their own country and to leave Regensburg, where their reception had been by no means as friendly as formerly at Basel. As on previous occasions private conversations took place between the members of the antagonistic parties before they separated. The Utraquist lords attempted to persuade Ulrich of Rosenberg and the other lords “sub una” to accept Communion in the two kinds, rightly thinking that they would by conforming to the then universal custom of their country facilitate a general pacification. The Utraquists, however, met with a decided refusal. When at the end of August the Bohemian delegates returned to their country Menhard of Jindřichův Hradec and Ulrich of Rosenberg remained at Regensburg to confer with the Emperor Sigismund. It is probable that they advised him to grant, at least momentarily, large concessions to the Utraquists. They may have suggested to him that his position in Bohemia would become much stronger as soon as he became its acknowledged sovereign. His advisers well knew that Sigismund was not very scrupulous as to keeping promises made under different circumstances.
Though the conferences at Regensburg had led to no immediate result, it was probably at this moment that the Utraquist nobles determined to abandon their demand that Communion in the two kinds should be made obligatory in the whole of Bohemia and Moravia. Though the destruction of the Táborite bands had principally been their work, they began to feel that they had lost a powerful ally should it be necessary again to take up arms. In their own ranks defections were becoming frequent. Through the influence of Menhard and Rosenberg some nobles had already abandoned Utraquism, and the bribes of Sigismund, which were as considerable as his chronic impecuniosity permitted, had caused some men to submit unconditionally to the Church of Rome.
The new Bohemian diet met on October 23, shortly after the return of the envoys from Regensburg. Its most important resolution was to send a deputation to Hungary, where Sigismund was then residing, to confer with him on the conditions under which the Bohenians would receive him as king. The diet also decided to enter into renewed negotiations with the Council concerning the all-important question of the re-establishment of the Bohemian hierarchy. This was an absolute necessity if order was to be permanently re-established. Though the battle of Lipany had been fought but a short time previously bands of Táborites had again risen in arms, and in Silesia there had been conflicts between Utraquists and Roman Catholics. It was thought that only priests belonging to the Utraquist Church would have authority over the people. The diet therefore demanded that the new archbishop and his two suffragan bishops should be elected by the estates and should belong to the Bohemian nation. One of the most important results of this diet was the complete reconciliation between the theologians of the university, who represented the Hussite High Church, and the Orphans. The latter now ceased to form a separate community. Some members of that community who held advanced opinions declined to accept this agreement, and preferred to join the ranks of the Táborites. Mainly through the energy of Rokycan the diet, however, succeeded in concluding a truce even with the Táborites. The moderate Utraquists—whom contemporary writers generally call the “Praguers,” as their leaders were the theologians of that university—and the Orphans, who had now joined them, came to an agreement with the Táborites according to which Magister Peter Payne, who, formerly a member of the Orphan community, had now joined the Táborites, was to act as mediator. Both parties bound themselves to accept his decision with regard to the seven sacraments, purgatory, the veneration of the saints, and the form in which mass was to be celebrated. He was to base his decisions on the writings of Master John Hus, Master John Wycliffe, and his own, as well as on the stipulations of the agreement of Cheb. This referred to the decision of that conference that in judging the articles of Prague only God’s law, the practice of Christ, and the teaching of the primitive Church and the early councils should be considered as authoritative. It was specially stipulated that the question of transubstantiation, which the magisters of the university upheld as an indisputable truth, should not be submitted to the arbitration of Magister Payne. In spite of this clause the agreement must be considered as an important concession to the advanced party. The stipulation, obviously originating from Payne himself, that he should base his decision on the writings of Wycliffe was necessarily displeasing to the Hussite High Church. Hus himself had refused to be rendered responsible for all the statements of Wycliffe, and the moderate Utraquists always resented the name of “Wycliffites,” which the lords “sub una” applied to them. Rokycan now suffered the fate of most peacemakers. He had at Regensburg been accused of showing too great subserviency, not only to Sigismund, but also to the representatives of the Council; he was now denounced as having shown too much favour to the extreme Táborites. It is certain that at that moment the citizens of some of the towns who still sided with the Táborites were seriously meditating a renewal of hostilities. Rokycan and the theologians of the university rightly thought that all Utraquists should appear as a united body during the final discussions on the constitution of the Bohemian Church. Peter Payne did not immediately exercise his office of arbitrator. His decision was only made public two years later, after the termination of the Hussite wars and Sigismund’s entry into Prague. As Palacký suggests, he probably wished thus to obtain for the Táborites at least a short period of respite and toleration.
The envoys of the Bohemian diet to King Sigismund arrived at Pressburg in November. The King at that moment laid great stress on the cession of certain Hungarian towns on the Moravian frontier which, contrary to their usual practice, the Bohemians had continued to occupy since their invasions of Hungary. This matter was settled amicably, but the negotiations for the purpose of a general pacification appear to have made little progress. These negotiations, which turned mainly on the fashion in which the compacts were to be interpreted, and now also on the establishment of a national Church in Bohemia, were carried on by means of the repetition of arguments that had already done duty on many previous occasions. They are, therefore, excessively wearisome, and it is here sufficient to note the principal occurrences. At Pressburg, however, Sigismund declared that he could only act in unison with the Council, and he requested the Bohemians to meet him again at Brno, where he had begged the Council also to send its representatives. It must be admitted that during these lengthy deliberations, which continued from 1431 to 1436, the attitude of the Council was franker and more honourable than that of Sigismund. The Council had, though reluctantly, consented to permit Communion in the two kinds in the Utraquist parts of Bohemia and Moravia, and it had openly declared that it could make no further concessions. Sigismund, on the other hand, was above all things intent on rapidly obtaining possession of Bohemia, and did not hesitate to make promises which he had no intention to fulfil. At this moment (about the end of the year 1434) Sigismund was again secretly negotiating with the Táborites. It is certain that he received envoys representing that community and told them that he had always been well-disposed to their party; he then spoke much of the avarice and malice of the priests, which, as he said, he had himself observed at the Council of Constance, at his coronation in Rome, and recently at Basel. The Táborites appear to have distrusted the King’s overtures.
The only positive result of the visit of the Bohemians to Pressburg was the decision that Sigismund should proceed to Brno in Moravia, and that he should there again meet the envoys of Bohemia, who would now recognise him as their sovereign. The Bohemians would there also confer with the representatives of the Council. Before the Bohemians could send their representatives to Brno it was, however, necessary that the Bohemian estates should meet in Prague to deliberate on the conditions under which Sigismund would be received as king. It had been agreed that the estates should meet on the day of St. Valentine (February 14), but, in consequence of the exceptionally cold winter, the deliberations of the diet only began on March 2, 1435. The regent, Aleš of Riesenburg, had some time previously received a short communication from Bishop Philibert of Coutance and other members of the Council which proffered excuses for their delay in answering the letter concerning the Bohemian hierarchy which the estates had sent in the autumn of the previous year. The reply avoided answering the questions contained in the letter of the diet, and limited itself to stating that the Council would send a numerous and important embassy to Brno, which would take part in the deliberations during the stay of the Emperor in that city.
The resolutions of the “Diet of St. Valentine,” as it was called, though its sittings began somewhat later than the day of that saint, are very important. The estates here formulated the conditions under which they were prepared to recognise Sigismund as their king. Their demands were certainly extensive, and it is obvious that the constant delays and what they considered the double dealing had irritated many. The somewhat reviving strength of the Táborites was probably also taken into account by the assembly. The document which contained these demands consisted of twenty-seven articles. The most important stipulations were “that no man, and especially no German, should be received as a citizen by any town unless he communicated in the two kinds, that no one should hold office unless he communicated in the two kinds, that the Emperor should have no chaplain who did not communicate in the two kinds, that the Emperor himself with his court should communicate in the two kinds, that monks should not be again admitted into Bohemia, and that all those whose lands had been confiscated by Sigismund and his brother Venceslas should recover possession of them.
In other articles the diet again demanded that the Bishops of Bohemia and Moravia should be elected by the estates and referred to some minor grievances that do not require mention here. Though the estates well knew that their demands would meet with opposition at Brno, they yet determined to send delegates to that city, where they were to meet Sigismund and the ambassadors of the Council. Renewed feuds between the Táborites and Lord Ulrich of Rosenberg caused some delay, and it was only on June 19 that the Bohemians started for Brno. At the head of the embassy was the regent, Aleš of Riesenburg, and among the nobles and knights who accompanied him were Menhard of Jindřichův Hradec, The Utraquists interpreted this as signifying that the new archbishop was to be a foreigner.of Pirkštýn, Bořek of Miletinek, Kostka of Postupic, John of Černin, Matthew Louda of Chlumčany. Numerous ecclesiastics accompanied the mission; among them were John of Rokycan and Martin Lupáč. Besides the towns of Prague the cities of Žatec, Loun and Slané had sent representatives to Brno. The prolonged resultless negotiations had somewhat embittered the Bohemians, and it was with regret rather than with surprise that they heard on their arrival at Brno that the delegates of the Council of Basel, who had arrived there some time previously, now maintained an entirely intransigent attitude. They attempted by repetition of previous arguments to limit the purport of the compacts as far as possible, and they also opposed a stern negative to the other most important Bohemian demand, the foundation of a national hierarchy. They declared that it was impossible for them to accept a Utraquist archbishop, and as it was probable that an archbishop elected by the chapter according to the regulations would displease the people, they suggested that the Council itself should name a distinguished ecclesiastic who belonged to no Bohemian party.
On July 1 the Emperor Sigismund arrived at Brno, and immediately devoted his energy to removing the obstacles which still stood in the way of his entering into possession of his Bohemian kingdom. On the following day Rokycan, in the name of the Utraquists, and Palomar as representative of the Council, expounded their views in the presence of the Emperor. Rokycan, who—contrarily to the wishes of the envoys of the Council, but by desire of Sigismund—opened the proceedings, stated that the Utraquists made three demands, namely, that the four articles of Prague should be recognised in the whole kingdom of Bohemia and the margraviate of Moravia, that Bohemia and Moravia should be freed from the accusation of heresy which had been brought against those countries because of the articles, and that the general reform of the Church should be carried out. In his reply, Palomar maintained his usual intransigent attitude. Very badly informed as to the political situation of Bohemia, he thought that after the battle of Lipany the Bohemians could easily be induced to submit unconditionally to the Church of Rome. A complete rupture seemed inevitable, and when the envoys met again on July 4 Rokycan asked the envoys of the Council if they considered their previous statements as final. If this was the case he feared that they (the envoys of the Council) could not say “God with us”; but “with us,” he continued, “He always has been and, we hope, always will be.” Palomar gave an evasive answer, and the negotiations continued for some weeks in a desultory fashion. The representatives of the Council now admitted that the Bohemians should, at least provisionally, be granted in a limited form the privileges contained in the compacts. The envoys of the Council, however, absolutely and consistently opposed the demand of the Utraquists that the Archbishop of Prague and two suffragan bishops should be elected by the estates of Bohemia. Towards the end of July the Bohemians began to leave Brno, and it became obvious that the negotiations would here again be resultless. Those Bohemian delegates who had not already left Brno did so on August 3, after having declared that they would again defer the questions concerning the recognition of Sigismund as king and the solution of the religious controversies to the Bohemian diet.
Though the religious disputations at Brno had again ended in failure, the question of the recognition of Sigismund as king had made considerable progress. The negotiations between Sigismund and the Bohemians, in which Menhard of Jindřichův Hradec again acted as mediator, are very obscure. It, however, appears certain that on July 6 Sigismund, when conversing with some of the Bohemian envoys, assured them of his friendship and his conciliatory spirit and of his intention never again to war against their country. The Bohemians, whom prolonged experience had not unnaturally rendered suspicious, demanded that some written statement should be given them bearing witness to the King’s conciliatory intentions. The King shortly afterwards, probably on July 25, acceded to their demand, and signed a document which certainly granted the Bohemians considerable concessions. It was kept secret for some time, and for that reason the ordinary writers of the King were not employed, but the document was transcribed privately by one of the Bohemian envoys. It was only made public by Sigismund when at Stuhlweissenburg in Hungary on January 6, 1436. In this important document Sigismund declared that no benefices in Bohemia or Moravia should be conferred on foreigners, and that the King reserved to himself the right of conferring such benefices. No Bohemian or Moravian was to be summoned to appear before any foreign law-court or to be judged by it. The most important part of the document was, however, the one containing the formal sanction of the election of the Archbishop of Prague and his suffragans by the Bohemians. The King further declared that all parish priests in Bohemia and in Moravia should dispense the Sacrament in the two kinds to those laymen who claimed that privilege; if they refused to do so they were to be removed. The document also contained regulations and promises concerning matters of minor importance, but it is the imperial consent given in it to the foundation of a Bohemian national hierarchy which renders it important. It is unfortunately almost certain that Sigismund never intended to fulfil his promises. The dispute on this matter continued beyond the period with which I am now dealing, and as Professor Tomek rightly remarks: “Sigismund publicly wrote to the Council recommending it to confirm Rokycan’s election as archbishop; secretly he advised the contrary.”
As had been settled at Brno the Bohemian estates again met in Prague in the autumn of 1435. The most important act of this diet was the election of the heads of the Bohemian hierarchy. The assembly chose sixteen of its members—of whom eight were ecclesiastics and eight laymen—as electors. They unanimously chose John of Rokycan as archbishop and Martin Lupáč, who has often been mentioned in these pages, and Venceslas of Mýto as suffragan bishops. The diet also settled to send a new embassy to Sigismund, who was expected at Stuhlweissenburg (Bělehrad) in Hungary. The envoys arrived there early in December and were soon joined by the representatives of the Council, who had also proceeded to Hungary. The Emperor was then hunting in the neighbourhood of Stuhlweissenburg, but he arrived in that city immediately before Christmas. As on previous occasions, dissensions immediately arose on the question whether the Utraquist Bohemians should be allowed to be present at the Church services. When Sigismund insisted on their admission the delegates of the Council absented themselves from those religious functions at which the Bohemians were present. They were, indeed, now less conciliatory than on any previous occasion. Though this is but slightly indicated by the contemporary writers, it is probable that the election of Rokycan and his suffragans had caused much displeasure at Basel. That these elections had been sanctioned by Sigismund was probably already known to the delegates of the Council, and they devised a very astute counter-move. In the name of his colleagues Palomar presented to the King for signature a document in which he engaged himself to prevent that any of his subjects should be forced to communicate in the two kinds by direct or indirect threats that he might lose rights or privileges. Another stipulation bound the Emperor not to interfere in any way in matters that concerned the doctrine or the power of the Church of Rome, nor to confer any dignities which the Roman Church had alone the right to grant; should he have secretly done so, such an act was to be considered as invalid. It need hardly be pointed out that by signing this document Sigismund would have immediately invalidated the promises he had made to the Bohemians, particularly with regard to the establishment of a national episcopacy. This document was presented to the Emperor on December 28, and some of the representatives of the Council immediately afterwards consulted Menhard of Jindřichův Hradec on this matter. Menhard had about this time—the exact date is uncertain—joined the Roman Catholic Church, and he was known to be Sigismund’s most trusted councillor on Bohemian affairs. When consulted as to the promises which the Emperor was rumoured to have made to the Bohemians Menhard confirmed the truth of these rumours, adding that he could not advise the sovereign to break his word. As to the promise that Sigismund should not interfere in matters concerning the doctrine and the authority of the Church of Rome, Menhard said that if such a promise were now made publicly the Bohemians would immediately break off the negotiations, if it were made secretly the King, after his arrival in Bohemia, would be in great danger, if it then became known that he had made such a promise. During the following days the negotiations continued uninterruptedly, the King almost daily receiving either the Bohemian delegates or the envoys of the Council, and sometimes both bodies jointly. Sigismund, who wished above all things to hasten his recognition as King of Bohemia, and who was in his heart a fervent adherent of the Church of Rome, considered these lengthy theological discussions both tedious and superfluous. He did not always conceal his irritation. During one of the audiences which he granted the Bohemians he declared that he wished to abandon his claim to the Bohemian throne, and advised them to seek for another king. On another occasion he rebuked the representatives of the Council for attaching too much importance to the choice of a new archbishop. He said that, as far as he was concerned, he did not care whom the Bohemians elected, even if they elected a donkey; it was not he who would have to ordain him.
On January 4, 1436, Sigismund presented to the envoys of the Council a new draft of a letter in which he, acceding to their demand, declared that he approved of the suggestions of Palomar. Though some stipulations had been modified, the new draft again contained the promise that Sigismund would not interfere in matters that concerned the doctrine and authority of the Roman Church. The Bohemians rightly thought that this was by far the most weighty point. When they were admitted to the presence of the Emperor immediately afterwards and the draft was read out to them, John Velvar, a citizen of Prague and a member of the Bohemian embassy, immediately protested, and in the name of his colleagues begged the Emperor’s permission to return to Bohemia.
Matters once again appeared to have arrived at a standstill, but Sigismund, not usually much troubled by conscientious scruples, devised a scheme by which a rupture was avoided. The assurances demanded by the Council were now formulated in a revised draft, in which the passage containing the Emperor’s promise not to interfere in matters concerning the doctrine and authority of the Church of Rome was omitted. On the suggestion of Archduke Albert, Sigismund’s son-in-law, it was, however, agreed that the Emperor should privately and secretly pledge his word to fulfil the promises contained in the passage which it had been thought necessary to suppress. The envoys of the Council reluctantly consented to this proposal, and on January 5 the Emperor, in the presence of his chancellor, Count Šlik, and of his son-in-law, Albert of Austria, swore not to interfere in any way in matters that concerned the doctrine or authority of the Church of Rome. It is, of course, impossible to state what took place at these strictly confidential conferences, but it is probable that Sigismund begged the envoys of the Council not to delay his accession to the Bohemian throne, and that he at the same time promised them that he would, as ruler of Bohemia, further the interests of the Church of Rome. The events of the short reign of Sigismund in Bohemia—with which I have not to deal in this work—certainly render this conjecture very probable. It is a proof of the King’s truly cynical duplicity that on the following day (January 6) he at last made public the document drafted at Brno in the previous year, which granted the Utraquists very considerable rights. It appears inexplicable that it should under these circumstances have been possible to come to an agreement. The delegates of the Council probably relied on Sigismund’s secret promises, while the Bohemians were anxious to be reunited to the universal Church. The more advanced Utraquists may also, in view of Sigismund’s advanced age and failing health, have thought that his reign would be a short one, and that it would afterwards be possible to elect a king belonging to their own Church. As a token of reconciliation both the Bohemian delegates and those of the Council presented letters to the Emperor in which they declared that they accepted the compacts. It was then decided that the Emperor should again meet the delegates of the Council and those of the Bohemian estates at Jihlava in Moravia, near the Bohemian frontier. After all moot points had been settled there Sigismund was to proceed to Prague, accompanied by the representatives of the diet, and to take possession of his Bohemian kingdom. The Bohemian envoys then returned to Prague, and on February 29 the estates again met there. The elections of Rokycan as archbishop and of his two suffragan bishops were now made public, for it had previously been attempted, though somewhat unsuccessfully, to keep this decision secret. The estates then decided to send delegates to meet King Sigismund at Jihlava. They were, however, only to recognise him as their king and accept the compacts after they had received an assurance that the election of Rokycan and of his suffragans would be sanctioned.
I have already quoted Sigismund’s own words concerning the importance which he attached to the choice of an Archbishop of Prague. He was, however, sufficiently astute to perceive the importance which the Bohemians attached to this matter. Unscrupulous as he always was he determined, in view of the opposition of the Council, to enter into communications with Pope Eugenius IV, who for a considerable time had been engaged in a bitter conflict with the Council of Basel. The Pope seems to have responded to Sigismund’s overtures. Early in the year 1436 he sent a very courteous letter addressed to the “Lords, knights, Praguers, and citizens of the other Bohemian towns,” in which he stated that the Emperor had requested him to grant certain concessions which were favourable to the tranquillity and glory of the Bohemians and their kingdom. He added that he was ready to grant these demands. Though this letter only reached Prague after the sittings of the diet had ended, its effect was considerable. It strengthened the hand of those who, though faithful to the articles of Prague, longed for a reunion with the universal Church. It was thought that it would be possible that the Bohemian Church, should the Council continue intransigent, might come to an agreement with Pope Eugenius.
It had been originally settled that the meeting at Jihlava should take place early in spring, but a Turkish invasion of Hungary delayed Sigismund’s arrival for a considerable time. He, however, arrived at Jihlava on June 5, on the same day as the Bohemian delegates. The envoys of the Council had arrived in the Moravian town some time previously. Negotiations began immediately, as all parties were anxious to secure the long-desired pacification. The Bohemians, according to their instructions, demanded that Rokycan and his suffragans should be recognised by the Council as holding the episcopal dignitaries which the diet had conferred on them. On the absolute refusal of the delegates of the Council to consent to this, some of the representatives of the Bohemian towns declared that they must consult their fellow-citizens. They could not—before doing this—accede to the compacts or accept Sigismund as king, without having received any assurance that the Council would recognise Rokycan and his suffragans. They soon returned, having apparently obtained the consent of their fellow-citizens.
It was only on July 5 that the compacts were accepted by all parties. This was done with great solemnity on the marketplace of Jihlava. The Emperor appeared there in his imperial robes. He was preceded by Albert of Austria, who carried the imperial globe, the Count of Cilli—Sigismund’s brother-in- law—carrying the sceptre, and the Count of Schaumburg, who carried the sword of state. When he was seated the delegates of the Council sat down on his right side. On his left side were seated the regent, Aleš of Riesenburg, Menhard of Jindřichův Hradec, Archbishop Rokycan and his two suffragan bishops. John Velvar then read out the compacts and presented a document in which the Bohemians declared that they accepted the compacts and wished henceforth to live in peace with the whole Christian world. A similar document was then read out by one of the delegates of the Council. Immediately after this reconciliation Bishop Philibert of Coutance intoned the Te Deum, in which all present, Bohemians, delegates of the Council and members of the imperial court, enthusiastically joined. The whole city of Jihlava and the surrounding country rejoiced that the long religious war was at last ended. It remained to settle the differences between Sigismund and his subjects. It was hoped that these matters would be settled speedily, as religious questions had been the principal cause of the war. Though dissensions concerning the ever-recurring question of the admission of Utraquists to the religious services of the Roman Church still caused some delay, the Emperor on July 20 granted the estates of Bohemia a so-called “letter of majesty.” In this document he conferred on his Bohemian subjects considerable rights and privileges, besides those already promised at Stuhlweissenburg. He undertook to maintain all the privileges granted to the Bohemians by the compacts, to have only chaplains belonging to the Utraquist Church, to force no one to rebuild the churches and monasteries that had been destroyed during the war, to preserve and guard the privileges of the university of Prague and to restore to it the lands of which it had been deprived. The King further declared that he had forgotten all that had been done against him during the recent troubles, promised to maintain all the ancient rights and privileges of Bohemia, and, according to the ancient custom; to employ no foreign officials in the lands of the Bohemian crown. He also promised to return to the country the venerated Bohemian crown, and to retain at his court a certain number of councillors, who were to be appointed by the estates of Bohemia. The letter contained some other stipulations of minor importance to which it is unnecessary to refer here. On July 22 Sigismund published another decree, which granted certain privileges to the cities of Prague. On July 25 the nobles, knights, and townsmen of Bohemia again appeared before the Emperor, and John Velvar, again acting as spokesman, informed him that the Bohemians were prepared to receive him as their sovereign.
All difficulties were now removed, and though a short delay was still caused by the necessity of bringing the Bohemian crown to Jihlava, Sigismund started from that city for Prague on August 18. He arrived in the capital on the 25th of that month, and was received with great enthusiasm by the population. He first entered the Týn church, where he was warmly welcomed by Archbishop Rokycan, and then proceeded to his temporary residence, near the present Celetná Ulice, as the royal residence on the Hradčany had become uninhabitable in consequence of the long war.
The entry of King Sigismund into Prague marks the end of the Hussite war. The long and bitter struggle had proved to be a drawn battle. Internal discord had prevented the Bohemians from obtaining a complete victory. Yet it is certain that by securing the recognition of the compacts the Utraquists had obtained a not inconsiderable success. If the privileges which Bohemia then acquired were always disputed and the compacts were successively repudiated by the Roman and the Bohemian Church, this is due to events which occurred at a period subsequent to that of which I am now writing. The modern historian of Bohemia, Professor Tomek, who, though he was a fervent Roman Catholic, always wrote with absolute impartiality, very truly says: “The Bohemian religious movement stirred up by Hus and his successors, who were able to carry away the majority of the nation, in its essence strove to reform the organisation of the Church, to encourage a more fervent interest in the doctrine of Christianity, and greater zeal for the fulfilment of the religious enactments. It therefore endeavoured to weed out the vices that had sprung up among a clergy that had become worldly. The minds of the people were also dominated by a particular devotion to Communion in the two kinds, overrating the importance of this practice, which had prevailed in the primitive Church.” It is, indeed, impossible to understand the importance which the Bohemians of all classes at that period attached to Utraquism if we do not realise that to the Bohemians, great readers of Scripture, only Communion as they believed it to have been instituted appeared as a true sacrament. Every other form was “incomplete.”
It is certain that the originators of the Hussite movement were guided by very noble motives. The degeneracy of the Roman Catholic clergy at this period cannot be exaggerated. The study of Scripture, which, through the influence not only of Hus, but also of his predecessors, Milič and Stitný, had become general, prevented the Bohemians from tolerating these abuses with the same indifference as other countries then did.
In spite of the bitter invectives of the enemies of Bohemia, and in spite also of the perhaps more harmful writings of indiscriminate praisers of Hussitism, the period of the Hussite war will always appear to a Bohemian as the most glorious epoch in the annals of his country.
- Dr. Krummel, Utraquisten und Taboriten.
- Bartošek of Drahonic writes (p. 616): “Item eodem anno videlicet XXXIV . . . fuit magnus concursus baronum, dominorum, terrigenarum Prage, ubi eciam pars domini imperatoris suprascripti [Sigismund] affuit, videlicet dominus Ulricus de Rosenberg, dominus Puota de Czastolowicz . . . et alii quam plures servitores domini imperatoris, ubi conclusum est ex parte Wiklefistarum, ut ad dominum imperatorem equitarent dominus Menhardus de Nova Domo, dominus Ptaczko de Rataj et dominus Czenko juvenis de Wartemberg, militares vero Benessius de Mokrowous, Czapko de Ssan, capitaneus Orphanorum . . . feria 111 ipso die sancti Laurencii suprascripti et dominus Wilhelmus Kostka, Johannes de Smirzicz, magister Johannes de Rokycan et dominus Martinus Lupacz et magister Marcus ad dominum imperatorem Ratisponam transiverunt equites.” Thomas Ebendorfer of Haselbach writes in his “Diarium gestorum per Legatos concilii Basiliensis” (Monumenta conciliorum, etc., Tom. I. pp. 736 ff.): “Ambasiata tercia ad Boemos [Jun. 24, 1434] anno quo supra . . . facta est generalis congregacio regni in Praga, ibique decreverunt solemnem mittere ambasiatam ad civitatem Ratisponensem ad habendum dyetam cum invictissimo Romanorum imperatore, desiderantes suam pariter et ambasiatorum sacri concilii presenciam at diem assumpcionis gloriose semper virginis Marie [Aug. 15] quod et factum est.”
- It is printed in full in Mansi Concil., XXXI. 279.
- The names of the most prominent members of this embassy are given by Bartošek of Drahonic.
- Tomek, History of the Town of Prague, Vol. IV. p. 652.
- Přemysl. See my Bohemia, a Historical Sketch, pp. 10–11. Ebendorfer in his “Diarium gestorum, etc.” (Monumenta , etc., Tom. I. p. 37) thus describes the interview: “Item die 22, qui erat octava assumpcionis, die dominica mane, vocati ambasiatores concilii et Boemi per dominum imperatorem . . . Expectantes paululum, venerunt ambasiatores Boemorum pro quibus Johannes de Rokyczano in Bohemico assumens thema de evangelio ‘Vade et fac similiter’ deduxit quomodo dominus imperator a deo dodatus prudenter deberet facere justitiam et misericordiam ad instar Samaritani, precipue cum regno Boemie. Respondit dominus imperator in Bohemico se natum in regno et in Praga; si de popularibus agitur ipse ex istis est; succedit enim ei qui de aratro in villa quadam in Bohemia ad ducatum electus est, si de majoribus scitur quia de Luczelburg ad regnum illud vocati sunt sui progenitores.”
- The chronicler in the “Scriptores ” (Vol. III. p. 90–91) writes: “at this diet the priests of the Praguers and the Orphans like good Christians came to an agreement with regard to the Christian faith but Bohemicarum. . . the Táborites would not agree to this.”
- Volumus et promittimus stare scriptis magistri, Joannus Hus, magistri Joannis Wicleff et scriptis [Cheb] Petri Anglici in controversiis habitis inter nos Pragenses ex una et Thaborienses parte ex altera in materiebus sacramentorum septem ecclesiæ, suffragii, invocationis sanctorum, rituum missæ, et purgatorii, sic quod magister Petrus omnia secundum scripta præmissorum et indicem pactorum in Egrafaciat.” (“Nicholai de Pelhřimov Chronicon Taboritarum” in Höfler, Geschichtsschreiber, etc., Vol. II. p. 704).
- See my Master John Hus, pp. 18–22.
- Even the indefatigable Palacký mentions on one occasion the “Vielen Schwierigkeitan über die wir uns hier nicht ausführlich verbreiten können.” Geschichte, Vol. III. p. 201.
- Æneas Sylvius writes: “Liquet imperatorem quum fœdera cum hæreticis paciscit, necessitate magis admissise quam voluntate: voluisse illum paternam hæreditatem quoquo modo intrare, sensimque regni possessione accepta more majorum subter veram Christi religionem provinciam reducere” (Historia Bohemica, cap. lii).
- Printed by Palacký, Urkundliche Beiträge, etc., Vol. II. pp. 435–436.
- Ibid., pp. 440–441.
- This document, entitled “Proscriptio Imperatoris Sigismundi Brunnæ factæ nuntiis a Bohemis ad eum missis pro aliquibus articulis ultra compactata,” is published by Palacký, Unkunden, etc., Vol. Il. pp. 445–448.
- Sed et hoc volumus, ut per dominos Boemos generosos, nobiles, strenuos, famosos, Pragam et civitates alias una cum clero archiepiscopus Pragensis cum aliis episcopis titularibus alias suffraganeis eligantur” (Palacký, as above).
- “Quod si non fecerint, non sunt tolerandi” (Palacký, as above).
- The wording of the compacts, as finally accepted, differed so slightly from the former one, that it is sufficient to refer here to their contents as given on p. 311.
- Palomar, the delegate of the Council, thus describes Sigismund’s entry into Prague: “Tota civitas est plena populo, tanquam ad spectaculum magnum, et vere magnum et, non diu est, vix credibile: in quo agnoscendum est et cum laudibus et gratiarum actionibus memorandum, quoniam in manu domini potestas terræ; ipsius est regnum, et cui vult et quomodo vult concedit illud. Quod olim cum octuaginta millibus armatorum non potuit obtinere, nunc sine gladio, arcu et lancea pacifice est obtentum. Ipsi gloria, benedictio et claritas in secula sempiterna, amen.” (Letter to Council of Basel, Palacký, Urkunden, etc., pp. 466–468.)
- History of the Town of Prague, Vol. IV. p. 664.
- See my Master John Hus, pp. 232–233.
- See my History of Bohemian Literature.