Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXVI.: To his Bohemian Friends ( Nuremberg, October 20, 1414) - The Letters of John Hus
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XXXVI.: To his Bohemian Friends ( Nuremberg, October 20, 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).
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To his Bohemian Friends
Greetings from Christ Jesus! Let me tell you that I never rode in a shortened1 hood, but undisguised and without anything over my face. As soon as I had crossed the frontier, I reached Baernau2 first of all, where the rector with his curates was on the look-out for me before I arrived. When I entered the inn-parlour,3 he at once set before me a big tankard of wine, and in right friendly fashion he with his companions welcomed all my views and remarked that he had always been my friend. Next at Neustadt the whole German population had much delight in seeing me. We passed through Weiden1 with a big crowd agape with admiration. Arrived at Sulzbach, we entered the inn, where a court was sitting (landrecht).2 I said to the sheriffs3 and magistrates sitting by the stove, “I am Master John Hus, about whom I suppose you have heard much scandal; ask me any questions you like.”4 We had a long conversation and they received everything I said in a good spirit. After this we passed through Hersbruck, and spent the night in the town of Lauf, where the rector, a great canonist, met us with his curates. I had a talk with him and he also took everything in good part. And here we are at Nuremberg! The merchants, who had preceded us, announced our coming. Accordingly the people were standing in the streets looking about and asking, “Which is Master Hus?” Before dinner, the rector of St. Lawrence’s, Master John Helwel, sent me a letter saying that he had long wished to have a good talk with me. On the same sheet I wrote back a message to him to come, and he came. I had, moreover, already written out my notice of appeal,5 wishing to post it up; but in the meanwhile Baron Wenzel sent me word that the burghers and magistrates were assembled at the inn wishing to see me and to have a conference with me. I at once rose from the table and crossed over to where they were. The magistrates gave instructions that our conference should be in private, but I said to them, “I preach in public, and I want every one, who wishes, to hear me.” From that moment until dusk we talked together in the presence of consuls1 and burghers. A Carthusian doctor was there who was a famous debater. I noticed that Master Albert, rector of St. Sebald’s, was vexed because the burghers took my side. In the end all the magistrates and burghers were convinced. In fact, I have not met a single enemy as yet. In every inn I leave the host as a parting gift a copy of the Ten Commandments,2 and elsewhere I leave it as a leaven to work in the meal-tub.3 All the hostesses and their husbands give me a right hearty welcome. Nowhere do they put into force the edict of excommunication, while my notice of appeal, written in German, meets with universal praise. I assure you then that no greater hostility is shown me than by the Bohemian people.4 And what more can I say? Both Baron Wenzel [of Duba] and Baron John [of Chlum] treat me very graciously and kindly; they are like heralds of the truth, or rather, to speak more truly, they are advocates of the truth. With them on my side all goes well, the Lord being my defender. The King5 is down the Rhine6 and Baron Wenzel de Leštna1 is setting out after him. We are going direct2 to Constance. Pope John is getting near there.3 For we judge it would be useless to go after the King, perhaps a distance of sixty [German] miles, and then return to Constance.
Written at Nuremberg on the Saturday before the Feast of the Eleven Thousand Virgins.4
From Nuremberg the direct road to Constance lay through Ulm, Biberach, and Ravensburg to the Lake. One incident of the journey has been preserved for us by Mladenowic. On the occasion of Hus disputing with certain persons in the little Suabian town of Biberach—at that time a free city of the empire,—John of Chlum argued so strenuously ‘with the priests and other men of culture on obedience due to the Pope, excommunication, and other matters, that the rumour spread through the whole town that he was a doctor of theology’; “Doctor Biberach,” as Hus afterwards jestingly calls him in his Letters
(see p. 159, n. 4).
On reaching the Lake, Hus and his escort would finish the journey by boat. With considerable shrewdness they decided not to take their horses with them to Constance, but to send them back for sale to Ravensburg. On arriving at Constance they discovered the wisdom of the step. The city of the Council, as Ulrich v. Reichental tells us in his famous Diary, cannot at this time have had fewer than twenty to thirty thousand horses in it. Reichental’s special duty, in fact, was to provide adequate stabling.
Hus entered Constance on Saturday, November 3, ‘riding through a vast crowd.’ There he lodged with ‘a certain widow Faithful in the street of St. Paul,’ who kept a bakery with the sign of the White Pigeon close by the Schnetzthor, or road to St. Gallen. From this house—still visible to the tourist—Hus never stirred until his arrest, as we learn on the direct testimony of Chlum.
The ‘vast crowd’ of which Hus writes was probably not due to curiosity only concerning the Reformer, but, as we learn from the Journal of Cardinal Fillastre, to a different cause. ‘On Sunday, October 28, the Lord Pope entered Constance in state, and took up his quarters in the Bishop’s palace. It was afterwards arranged that the Council should be opened with a procession and high mass on Saturday, November 3’—the very day on which Hus and his friends rode into the city. But on that Saturday, continues Fillastre, ‘Pope, cardinals, and all the prelates and clergy were gathered together in the palace, vestments donned, and the procession arranged. This was ready to start—in fact, the Pope had come out of his room—when illness seized him. He was obliged to go back, doff his vestments, and lie down on his bed.’ Two days later John had recovered, and opened the Council.1
Three letters of Hus written from widow Faithful’s have been preserved for us, as well as a letter from John Cardinalis, all of them addressed to the friends in Prague. The gossip they retail on the whole turned out correct. But Benedict never intended to come to the Council, though he sent envoys, accredited to Sigismund, who arrived in Constance on January 8, and caused much stir by their claim to wear red hats. The Dukes of Brabant and Berg had succeeded by their threats in preventing Sigismund’s early coronation, and in driving him back in the early autumn from Coblenz to Heidelberg and Nuremberg. Their opposition had now been overcome, and on Sunday, November 4, Sigismund arrived in Aachen, and was crowned on the 8th. He fulfilled Hus’s guess by entering Constance at 2 a.m. on Christmas Day.
As regards the number of Parisians at the Council, Hus was mistaken. On December 6 John wrote to expostulate with the French ecclesiastics because they had not yet arrived. In reality, the Paris deputation, with Gerson at the head, did not reach Constance until February 18 or 26—the exact date is somewhat doubtful, probably the latter (Finke, Forschungen, 259). The number of cardinals in Constance at this time was but fifteen out of twenty-nine. As John Cardinalis points out (p. 163), the outlook at Constance did not at first point to a large attendance. It was not until after the arrival of Sigismund that the princes of Europe sent their embassies.
With the ‘seller of indulgences,’ Michael Tiem, now Dean of Passau, we have met before (p. 68). The negotiations with John to which Hus and Cardinalis refer were characteristic of the Pope. John was too uncertain of the future to make up his mind, as yet, to a breach with Sigismund, while his future conduct shows that he was not sorry to find a subject which might possibly divert attention from himself, and embroil Sigismund in a conflict with the cardinals. So when, on the Sunday after their arrival, ‘Chlum and Lacembok waited on the Pope, informing him that they had brought Hus to Constance under the safe-conduct of Sigismund, and begging that the Pope would not allow violence to be done to him, the Pope replied that even if Hus had killed his own brother he should be safe’ (Mladenowic’s Relatio in Doc. 246).
That same night Hus wrote the following letter to his friends in Bohemia:—
[1 ]Czotato. Probably the same as scotatus ‘incisus, in orbem diminutus.’ See illustrations of the word applied to dress in Ducange-Carpentier.
[2 ]MSS., Pernow. “B” with Hus generally in names of places becomes “P.” The place must not be confused, as often, with Beraun, near Prague.
[3 ]Stubam. The room of the great stove, so familiar to tourists.
[1 ]MSS., Vaydam.
[2 ]MSS., lantricht—i.e., a provincial court.
[4 ]Cf. Wesley’s Journals, i. 428.
[5 ]i.e., to Constance.
[1 ]Consulibus. The word, whether designedly or not, is very appropriate. Over the gates of Nuremberg was the motto “S.P.Q.N.”
[2 ]Do decem mandata hospiti. This may be Hus’s tract on the Ten Commandments, the date for which, however, is usually given a few weeks later (see Mon. i. 29b). The subject, at any rate, was clearly a favourite with Hus.
[3 ]Applico in farina. An Italian proverb for a ‘willing mind.’ Some translators have taken the passage literally, that Hus left his tracts in the flour-bin!
[4 ]Cf. pp. 147, 165, 263.
[5 ]Sigismund, as often. See infra, p. 163, n. 5.
[6 ]As a specimen of the faulty readings of the Epist. Piissimæ and Monumenta, note here: Rex est in regno, quem sequitur Dominus Wenceslaus, et nos de nocte pergimus Constantiam, ad quam appropinquat Papa Joannes. Judicamus enim quod sequatur Regem forte per 60 milliaria et revertatur Constantiam. Bonnechose translates this nonsense literally.
[1 ]i.e., Duba. See pp. 160 and 169, n. 2.
[2 ]MS. and editions read de nocte. Read with P., directe, and cf. p. 161 infra.
[3 ]Pope John was at this time crossing the Arlberg. Reichental in his Diary (ed. Buck, 1882) tells us how he was violently hurled from his sledge into the snow. ‘Here I lie,’ he cried, ‘in the devil’s name. I should have done better to have remained at Bologna.’
[4 ]See p. 15 for comment on this name.
[1 ]See Fillastre in Finke, Forschungen des Kon. Konzils, p. 163.