Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXIII.: To Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary ( Prague: September 1, 1414) - The Letters of John Hus
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
XXXIII.: To Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary ( Prague: September 1, 1414) - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
To Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary
To the most serene prince and lord, Sigismund, King of the Romans and King of Hungary, etc., his gracious lord, humbly praying with heartfelt desire that salvation, peace, and grace may be multiplied to him, and that after the governments of this present life the everlasting life of glory may be granted to him.
Most serene prince and most gracious lord, when I consider with a full heart the gracious and kindly regard which your Majesty most generously cherishes towards a poor subject like myself, I am utterly unable to make reply; but I am constrained to entreat the mercy of the Lord Almighty, Who rewardeth each man worthily, to grant a prosperous reign to your Majesty. Some time ago I forwarded an answer to your Majesty by the hands of Stephen Harnsmeister to the effect that after hearing what Lord Henry told me, and also of your Majesty’s promises, I intend humbly to give in my submission, and under the safe-conduct of your protection1 to appear at the next Council of Constance, the Lord Most High being my defender. Desiring to attain this object in an orderly fashion, I have caused notices, copies of which I forward, to be posted up all over Prague in Latin and Czech, and to be forwarded through the other cities and announced in sermons.
However, I beseech your Majesty, humbly entreating you in the Lord, by the honour of God and the welfare of His holy Church, by the honour also of the kingdom of Bohemia, of which the King of kings has ordained you the heir, and the welfare and honour of which He, therefore, hath disposed you naturally to desire, that it may please you to extend such kindness to my person that I may come in peace, and be able in the General Council itself to make a public profession of my faith. For as I have taught nothing in secret, but only in public, where masters, graduates, priests, barons, knights, and others most do congregate, so I desire to be heard, not privately, but before a public audience, to be examined, to make my statement, and to reply, with the help of the Lord’s spirit, to all who may wish to charge me. And I shall not be afraid, I trust, to confess the Lord Jesus Christ and to suffer death, if needs be, for His true law. For the King of kings and the Lord of lords Himself, very God, though amongst us as a poor man, meek and humble, suffered for our sakes, leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps: he that did no sin, neitherwas guile found in his mouth,1 Who humbling Himself destroyed our death by His own death, and hath constrained us also to suffer with humility and not for naught, seeing that He said: Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.2
When I pondered over these things, I, His servant in hope, albeit an unprofitable one, desired to win both clergy and people to the imitation of Himself, for which reason I have incurred the hatred, not of the whole of the people, but only of those who by their lives are enemies of the Lord Himself. It is by them that I have often been cited to appear at the Archbishop’s court, but I have always proved my innocence. When at length I was cited to appear at the Curia, I never succeeded through my defenders and proctors in getting a hearing.3 Therefore I have committed myself into the hands of the most righteous Judge, for Whose glory I trust your clemency will furnish me with a safe, public hearing, the Lord Jesus Christ being my defender. Finally, I have been comforted by the message brought by the noble and strenuous Lord Mikess Diwoky,4 your Majesty’s envoy, that your Highness remembers me so graciously and attentively by your desire to bring my case to an honourable issue, which will also redound to the glory and honour of the King of kings. I write with my own hand on St. Giles’s Day.
Master John Hus,
Sigismund was anxious that Hus should journey in his suite. The Reformer would have fared better, as the King pleaded in his own excuse at a later date, if he had accepted the offer. Such, however, was his confidence in his own integrity, his eagerness to confront his enemies, that Hus set off without even waiting for the safe-conduct. As soon as he had received Sigismund’s official promise of the safe-conduct—dated Rothenburg, October 8—Hus started (October 11, 1414), leaving the formal document to overtake him as best it might. Hence the allusion in the following letter, written in Czech, to his congregation at the Bethlehem, immediately after his departure from Bohemia.1 This letter, we may add, fell into the hands of Hus’s enemies, and gave him much trouble at Constance, owing, as Hus avers, to the faulty way in which it was mis-translated into Latin. The latter part of the letter is very beautiful. At the same time Hus sent a sealed letter to ‘Master Martin, his disciple,’ which forms one of the treasures of the collection, invaluable for its insight into the tender, somewhat self-upbraiding, spirit of the writer. This letter (XXXV.) should be compared with similar passages in Bunyan’s Grace Abounding.
[1 ]This gives the value that Hus, rightly or wrongly, attached to the famous safe-conduct. Cf. infra, 184, 229, 269. For a critical investigation of the whole subject, see my Age of Hus, pp. 282-93.
[1 ]1 Pet. ii. 21, 22.
[2 ]Matt. v. 10.
[3 ]Supra, p. 60 n.
[4 ]This is rather contradictory of the statement infra, p. 230.
[1 ]See p. 159, n. 2. But though not posted until after he left, Hus tells us himself (p. 159, n. 2) that it was written before the arrival of Chlum and Wenzel Duba. For Krakowec, see infra, p. 151.