Front Page Titles (by Subject) XIII.: To Ladislaus, King of Poland ( June 10, 1412 1 ) - The Letters of John Hus
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XIII.: To Ladislaus, King of Poland ( June 10, 1412 1 ) - Jan Huss, The Letters of John Hus 
The Letters of John Hus. With Introductions and Explanatory Notes by Herbert B. Workman and R. Martin Pope (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1904).
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To Ladislaus, King of Poland
May the grace of Jesus Christ be granted to you for the ruling of your people and the attaining of the life of glory!
Most serene prince, it hath brought me great joy and comfort to hear that your Majesty in the providence of Almighty God hath come to an agreement with the most illustrious King Sigismund.2 The people and myself are united in the prayer that God may direct3 the lives of both of you in the way of righteousness, and your subjects as well. To this end, most illustrious prince, it appears to be a prior condition alike for your Majesty, for his excellence King Sigismund, and for the other princes, that the heresy of simony should be removed from your dominions. But is it possible to expect its banishment when it hath spread its poison so widely that scarcely anywhere can clergy or people be found that have not been laid low by this heresy of simony? Who is honest enough to present to a see for the honour of God, for the salvation of the people, and for one’s own salvation? Who is so disinterested as to accept a see, a parish living, or any other benefice under the constraint of these three motives? I would that there were many to refuse them as a form of bondage and human bribery! But are not the words of Jeremiah fulfilled: From the least of them even to the greatest all follow hard after covetousness, and from the prophet even to the priest all make a lie?1 Is the disciple of Christ wide of the mark when he says: All seek the things that that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s?2 It is the voice of the Church weeping, because the gold is become dim and the finest colour is changed.3 Once the priesthood was like gold aflame with love and burnished with virtues; but now it hath become earthy and blackened, as Bernard saith.4 The words of our Saviour are fulfilled: Iniquity shall abound—that is, among the clergy—and charity shall grow cold5 among the people. Woe, therefore, to him that weeps not for such a time! Most illustrious prince, it is because they hear a message like this that a simoniac, pomp-loving, luxurious, and unrestrained clergy charge me with defamation of their order and heresy-mongerings. But shall I keep silence? God forbid! Woe is me if I keep silence! It is better for me to die than not to resist the wickedness which would make me a partner in their crimes and in their hell. May it please the King of glory to preserve your Majesty from these things for the holy government of your people!
Master John Hus,
The opposition of Hus to the indulgences separated the Reformer for ever from his former friends Stanislaus and Palecz. The first cause of their ‘backsliding like a crab,’ as Hus termed it, is somewhat obscure. In the autumn of 1408, in furtherance of Wenzel’s policy, an embassy was despatched to the Pisan cardinals. It consisted of John Cardinalis of Reinstein, the usual envoy of Wenzel, Mařik Rwačka, Stanislaus of Znaim, and Stephen Palecz. The two last, for some reason or other—perhaps because of their well-known sympathy with the Wyclifists—incurred the suspicion of Cossa. They were arrested at Bologna, ‘deprived of their goods, and imprisoned.’ Hus, Jesenicz, and Christian Prachaticz at once laboured for their release. At length, after petitions from the University (December 8, 1408) and from the Pisan cardinals themselves (February 12, 1409), this was procured, though not before Palecz was robbed of ‘207 gold knights.’ They retuned to Prague to find the University wrecked by the disruption. Whether this last event, or some subtle influences brought to bear upon them in their imprisonment, or the greater conservatism of maturer years, led to a change of view, we know not. Certain it is that they slowly drifted from alliance with Hus into the bitterest opposition. They first became what Hus called ‘Terminists’—i.e., Nominalists—then by a natural sequence the persecutors of their old associates. But we must beware of doing them the injustice of supposing that the drift was on their side only. Nor must we forget that by Hus’s expulsion of the Germans from the University the triumphant Czechs, no longer united by a common hatred, had now opportunity to discover unsuspected lines of cleavage among themselves.
On the outbreak of the dispute over the indulgences, Palecz, for the moment, had wavered. A meeting on the matter was held at the rectory of Christian Prachaticz. ‘If Palecz is willing to confess the truth,’ said Hus, ‘he will remember that he was the first to give me with his own hand the articles of indulgence, with the remark in writing (manu) that they contained palpable errors. I keep the copy to this day as a witness. But after he had consulted with another colleague he went over to the other camp. The last word I said to him—for I have not spoken to him since—was this: “Palecz is my friend, Truth is my friend; of the two it were only right to honour Truth most.” ’
The theologians, in fact, were unaminous that it was not their business to inquire into the value of the apostolic letters, but ‘as obedient sons to obey, and fight those who opposed.’
Palecz and Stanislaus were not the only foes whom Hus at this time was driven to encounter. In Letter XIV. we are introduced to his most unsparing literary opponent, Stephen, the prior of the Carthusian monastery of Dolein, near Olmutz, in Moravia. According to Stephen’s own statement, Hus and he at one time had been ‘men of one mind who had taken sweet meat together’; but they had long since drifted apart. As early as 1408 we find Stephen refuting Wyclif’s Trialogus in his In Medullam Tritici (“The Marrow of Wheat”), dedicated to Kbel, whom we have already met (supra, p. 12). In this work the references to Hus are few and slight, but his condemnation of Wyclif, whom Stephen recognises as the master, is unsparing.
The following letter of Hus was written in the summer of 1412. ‘To which writing,’ Stephen tells us, ‘when the purport had been told me, and I had seen and ascertained it for myself, I composed the following brief answer’—to wit, that he would reply at length when a suitable opportunity arose. A few months later (autumn 1412) Stephen fulfilled his promise by bringing out his Antihussus, dedicated to Stanislaus of Znaim, in the preface of which he incorporated this letter of Hus. The work ends with a prayer and a curse: ‘Holy Mary and all saints pray for us that the truth may be confirmed. Thou muck-sack (sacce) Wyclif pray for thy own that falsehood be condemned. Amen.’ In September 1414, to anticipate his further writings, Stephen brought out his Dialogus Volatilis inter Aucam et Passerem, seu Mag. Hus et Stephanum, dedicated to the Bishop of Leitomischl, while in 1417, after Hus’s death, he wrote his long Epistle to the Hussites. (All the above works are in Pez. Thesaurus, iv. pt. ii.)
[1 ]Marginal note in MS.
[2 ]On this peace of Sigismund, the Poles, and the Teutonic Knights, see Aschbach, Kaiser Sigmund (Hamburg, 1845), i. e. 16, and the letter of Sigismund (March 28, 1412) in ib. i. 437.
[3 ]P.: vita . . . dirigatur; H.: vitam . . . dirigat.
[1 ]Jer. vi. 13.
[2 ]Phil. ii. 21.
[3 ]Lam. iv. 1.
[4 ]P.: ut ait Bernardus; H.: ut ait Bene impletur—i.e., ut ait Jeremias I cannot put my finger on this passage. But similar statements in St. Bernard abound.
[5 ]Matt. xxiv. 12.