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626 [602]

K. Henry.5. Letters of Iohn Hus.

maister Iohn Hus should be set at liberty, and be restored vnto me. yet notwithstanding, they haue and yet doe refuse hitherto to set hym at liberty, to the great contempt & derogation of the safeconduict of the king, and of the safegard and protectiō of the Empire or Emperial maiesty. Wherefore I Iohn aforesayd in the name of the kyng, do here publish and make it knowen, that the apprehending and deteyning of the sayd M. Iohn Hus, was done wholy against the wyll of the forenamed kyng of Romaines my Lord, seeyng it is done in the contempt of the safeconduct of hys subiects and of the protection of the Empire, because that the sayde my Lord was then absent far from Constance, and if he had bene there present, would neuer haue permitted the same. And when he shall come, it is to be doubted of no man, but that he for this great iniury, and contempt of this safe conduct done to him and to the Empire, will greuously be molested for the same. Geuen at Constance in the day of the natiuitie of the Lord. 1414.

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¶ In this instrument aboue prefixed note (gentle reader) iij. things.

First, the goodnes of this gentle Lord Iohn de Clum, beyng so feruent and zelous in the cause of Iohn Husse, or rather in the cause of Christ.

Secondly, the safe conduict graunted vnto the sayd I. Hus, vnder the fayth and protection of the Emperour, and of the Empire.

Thirdly, here is to be sene the contempt and rebellion of these proude Prelates in disobeyng the authoritie of these high Magistrate, who contrary to his safeconduct geuen, and the mynd of the Emperour, did arrest and imprison this good man, before the comming of the sayd Emperour, & before that Iohn Hus was heard. Let vs now, as we haue promised, adioyne some of the epistles of this godly man. 

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Letters of Hus

In the 1570 edition, Foxe expanded his account of Jan Hus, the Czech reformer, by including a series of his letters. These epistles were all taken from the two volume collection of documents on Hus, edited anonymously by Matthias Flacius and printed in Nuremburg in 1558. (Johannis Hus et Hieronymi Prgaensis confessorum Christi Historia et Monumenta, I, fos. 57r, 58v-59v, 60v-62v, 66v-69r, 71r, 72v - 73r, 75v, 101r-v and 418r). These letters elaborated further on the sensitive issue of Hus's safe conduct and portrayed the clergy as bloodthirsty persecutors. They also denounced the papacy as antichrist and contained several 'prophecies' by Hus of the eventual reform of the church. But above all these letters provide moral exhortation -particularly to priests and nobles - to constancy and godly living. As with the letters of the English martyrs, Foxe printed the letters of Hus as much for moral instruction as for their polemical content.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

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¶ An Epistle of Iohn Hus, vnto the people of Prage in hys owne vulgar speech.

GRace and peace from our lord Iesus Christ, that you beyng deliuered from sinne, may walke in his grace & may grow in all modesty and vertue, and after this, may enioy eternall lyfe.

Dearely beloued, I besech you which walke after the law of God, that you cast not away the care of the saluation of your soules, when as you hearing the word of God, are premonished wisely to vnderstand that you be not deceyued by false Apostles: which do not reprehend the sinnes of men, but rather do extenuate and diminish them: which flatter the priestes, and do not shew to the people theyr offences: which magnifie themselues: boast their owne workes, and meruelously extoll their owne worthines: but followe not Christ in his humility, in pouerty, in the crosse and other manifold afflictions. Of whome our mercifull Sauiour dyd premonish vs before, saying: false Christes and false Prophets shall rise, & shall deceyue many. And whē he had forewarned his welbeloued disciples, he sayd vnto them: beware and take hede of false Prophetes, which come to you in shepes clothyng, but inwardly are rauenyng wolues: ye shall know them by their frutes. And truth it is, that the faythfull of Christ haue much nede diligently to beware, & take hede vnto themselues: For as our Sauiour himself doth say: the elect also if it were possible, shall be brought into error. Wherfore my welbeloued, be circumspect and watchful, that ye be not circumuented with the crafty traynes of the deuill. And the more circumspect ye ought to be, for that Antichrist laboureth the more to trouble you. The last Iudgement is nere at hand: death shall swallow vp many, but to the elect children of God, the kyngdome of God draweth nere, because for them he gaue hys ovvne body. Feare not death: loue together one an other: perseuere in vnderstanding the good will of God without ceasing. Let the terrible and horrible day of Iudgement be alwayes before your eies, that you sinne not: and also the ioy of eternall lyfe, whereunto you must endeuour. Furthermore, let the passion of our Sauiour be neuer out of your myndes: that you maye beare with him and for hym gladly, whatsoeuer shall be layd vpon you. For if you shall consider well in your myndes hys crosse and afflictions, nothyng shall be greuous vnto you, & patiently you shall geue place to tribulations, cursinges, rebukes, stripes and prisonement, and shall not doubt to geue your lyues moreouer for his holy truth, if neede require. Knowe ye, welbeloued, that Antichrist beyng stirred vp agaynst you, deuiseth diuers persecutions. And many he hath not hurt, no not the least heire of their heds, as by myne own example I can testifie, although he hath bene vehemently incensed against me. Wherfore I desire you all, with your prayers to make intercession for me to the lord, to geue me intelligence, sufferaunce, patience and constancy, that I neuer swarue from his diuine verity. He hath brought me now to Constance. In all my iourny openly and manifestly, I haue not feared to vtter my name as becommeth the seruaunt of God. In no place I kept my selfe secret, nor vsed any dissimulation. But neuer dyd I finde in any place more pestilent and manifest enemies then at Constāce. Which enemies neither should I haue had there, had it not bene for certayne of our owne Bohemians, hypocrites and deceiuers, who for benefites receiued & stirred vp with couetousnes, with boastyng & bragging, haue persuaded the people that I wēt about to seduce them out of the right way. But I am in good hope that through the mercy of our God, and by your prayers, I shall persist strongly in the immutable verity of God, vnto the last breath. Finally, I would not haue you ignoraunt, that where as euery one here is put in his office, I only as an out cast am neglected. &c. I commend you to the mercifull Lord Iesu Christ, our true God, and the sonne of the immaculate Virgin Mary, which hath redeemed vs by his most bitter death, without all our merites, from eternall paines, from the thraldom of the Deuill, and from sinne. From Constance, the yere of our Lord. 1415.

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¶ An other letter of Iohn Hus to his benefactours

MarginaliaA letter of I. Hus.MY gratious benefactours and defendours of the truth, I exhorte you by the bowels of Iesus Christ, that now ye settyng aside the vanities of this present world, will giue your seuice to the eternall kyng, Christ the Lord. Trust not in Princes nor in the sonnes of men, in whom there is no health. For the sonnes of mē are dissemblers and disceitfull. To day they erre, to morrow they perish, but God remaineth for euer. Who hath his seruasites not for any neede he hath of them, but for their owne profite: vnto whom he performeth that, whiche he promiseth, and fulfilleth that which he purposeth to geue. He casteth of no faythfull seruaunt from him, for he sayth: where I am there also shall my seruaunt be. And that Lord maketh euery seruaunt of his to be the Lord of all his possession, geuyng himselfe vnto him, & with himselfe, all thynges: that without all tediousnes, feare, and without all defect, he may possesse all thinges, reioycing with all Saintes in ioy infinite. O happy is that seruaunt, whom, when the Lord shall come, he shall finde watchyng. Happy is the seruaunt which shall receaue that kyng of glory with ioy. Wherfore, welbeloued Lordes, and benefactours, serue you that kyng in feare: whiche shall bryng you, as I trust, nowe to Boheme at this present, by his grace in health, and hereafter, to eternall lyfe of glory. Fare ye well: For I thinke that this is the last letter that I shall write to you: who to morrow, as I suppose, shalbe purged in hope of Iesu Christ, through bitter death, from my sinnes. The thynges that happened to me this night, I am not able to write. Sigismund hath done all thyngs with me disceitfully, God forgeue him and onely for your sakes. You also heard the sentence which he awarded agaynst me. I pray you haue no suspicion of faythfull Vitus.

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¶ An other letter to the Lord Iohn de Chlum

MarginaliaA letter of Iohn Hus. MOst gracious benefactour in Christ Iesu, dearly beloued, yet I reioyce not a little, that by the grace of God I may write vnto your honour. By your letter which I receaued yesterday, I vnderstand, first how the iniquitie of the great strompet, that is, of the malignant congregation (whereof mention is made in the Apocalips) is detected and shalbe more detected. Wyth the which strumpet the Kynges of the earth do commit fornication, fornicating spiritually from Christ, and as is there sayd, sliding backe from the truth, & consenting to the lyes of Antechrist, through his seduction and through feare, or through hope of confederacie, for getting of worldly honour. Secondly I perceaued by your letter, howe the enemies of the truth, beginne nowe to be troubled. Thirdly I perceaued the feruent constancie of your charitie, wherewith you professe the truth boldly. Fourthly with ioye I perceaued that you minde now to geue ouer the vanitie and the painefull seruice of this present world, and to serue the Lord Iesus Christ quietly at home. Whome to serue, is to reigne, as Gregory sayth. Whom he that serueth faithfully, hath Christ Iesus himselfe in the kingdome of heauen to minister vnto hym, as he hymselfe sayth: Blessed is that seruaunte, whom when the Lord shall come, he shall finde wakyng, and so doyng. Verely I say vnto you, that he rising, shall girde hymselfe, and shall minister to hym. Thys doe not the Kyngs of thys worlde to their seruauntes: whome onely they doe loue

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