Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the TextCommentary on the Woodcuts
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
727 [727]

K. Henry 5. The Councell of Constance. Bohemians.

neither with their noyse, neither of any thyng els, would not away, vntill þt with the strokes of the stickes, which were throwne at her, she fell downe dead before thē all. This I learned of a faithfull frēd, who at the same time came to Rome, the whiche thing I scarsly credityng forthe rarenes of the matter, he affirmed by his othe, that it was most certain & true: adding moreouer that all there present were much offended, and did greatly deride that Councell called for such a purpose, & by litle and litle the Coūcell was dissolued, nothyng done there, as he sayth.

[Back to Top]

The description of the Popes councell holden at Rome, in which appeared a monstrous Owle, to the vtter defacing of the Pope and all his Clergie.
woodcut [View a larger version]
Commentary on the Woodcuts  *  Close
The Council of Constance, designed to end the papal schism and to repress heresy, condemned Hus and Jerome of Prague, both of whom were burned, and did its best to see Wyclif given the same treatment by ordering that his bones should be exhumed and burned. Foxe, who anticipated his narrative of the council in order to include the subsequent burning of the heresiarch's bones in his life story, naturally found congenial the story narrated by Nicholas of Clamanges of the synod called in Rome in 1412 by the anti-pope John XXIII. According to this tale ('the merry story of an owl'), a dreadful owl (represented in Foxe's illustration as formidable in size) was said to have appeared and disrupted the proceedings by fixing its gaze on the presiding pontiff -- something that was inevitably taken as an evil omen. The summons of the Council of Constance and the deposition of the pope fulfilled this prediction. The illustrator, picturing a scene of utter dismay in which all eyes are fastened on the presiding bird, did his best to portray a building of Roman character. CUL copy: in this copy, as with the image of the Lollards, the faces have been detailed in black ink, to highlight eyebrows, lashes and profiles. Lips are frequently detailed with a rosy red. The cardinals wear orange; the pope's pallium is in orange, his cassock is in yellow with purple shading. The bishops surrounding him wear variously white or shades of purple and there is one monk, dressed in black. The owl has a white chest and face, with the rest of its body and wings in a light brown. Taking into account the average height of those depicted in this image, the owl stands at around 3 feet tall, perched and poised on a beam up above those gathered, making one rather wonder what tactics it is about to use 'to the utter defacing' of those below. The tyrian purple pillars are detailed in white, to indicate the marbling. One straight white line is added centrally to each pillar to indicate a reflection in the glossy exterior of the columns. WREN copy: note that the painting in this copy is more finely executed. See, in particular the marbling effect added to the pillars in the background. There is, however, no gold detail to this picture in the Wren copy.

Although it hath not bene alwayes sene that such spirituall doues haue bene present with Popes and their coūcels, and gouerned thē: yet their euill doctrine declareth no lesse: Read gentle reader the boke of Clemangis, and thou shalt not thincke thy labour euill bestowed. For he hath both learnedly, truely, frely and godly, bewailed þe filthines of Antichrist, and his ministers, their wickednes, impiety and cruelty, and the miserable state & face of the churche. &c. And thus much for Pope Iohn.

[Back to Top]
¶ The councell of Constance. 
Commentary  *  Close
Council of Constance

Foxe's account of the Council of Constance served two basic purposes. The first was to provide a background for the executions of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague. Secondly the account allowed Foxe to provide more details of the Great Schism as well as of papal politics and scandals. One indication of Foxe's readiness to develop the latter theme was the inclusion, first in the 1563 edition, of a story of an owl appearing at a council in Rome and being regarded as an evil spirit by antipope John XXIII, who summoned this council and was to summon the Council of Constance. Foxe obtained this story from Ortwin Gratius, Fasciculus rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum [Cologne, 1535], fo. 201r. In the 1563 edition , the account of the Council of Constance itself was taken from Casper Hedio's continuation of the chronicle of Conrad of Lichtenau. (See Conrad of Lichtenau, Abbatis Uspergensis chronicum, ed. Conrad Hedio [Basel, 1569], pp. 373-4 and 379-81). The letter of the 54 Moravian nobles also came from Hedio (pp. 381-84). Also included in the 1563 edition was an account of Hus attending the Council on receipt of a safe-conduct from the Emperor Sigismund, the proceedings against Hus at the Council and Hus's condemnation. All of this material came from Johannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi Historia et Monumenta, ed Matthias Flacius, 2 vols. (Nuremburg, 1558), I, fos. 1v-27v. In the 1570 edition, Foxe deleted some documents from this material: two testimonials as to Hus's good character, presented at the Council and a document concerning an earlier hearing on Hus's heresies held by the Archbishop of Prague. But Foxe also added a rebuttal of Catholic arguments justifying the execution of Hus despite the safe conduct. The 1570 account of the Council of Constance and Hus's trial there was repeated without change in the 1576 edition. In the 1583 edition, this account was repeated but the two testimonials on behalf were re-inserted.

[Back to Top]

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe councell of Constance.HEre by the way is to be noted and vnderstand, that during all this time of Pope Iohn, there wer three Popes raigning together, neyther was yet the schisme ceased, which so long time had continued, the space (as I sayd) of. xxix. yeares. By the reason wherof a generall councell was ordayned and holden at Constance in the same yeare, an. 1414. being called by Sigismunde the Emperour, and Pope Iohn the. xxiij. for the pacifieng of the foresaide schisme, MarginaliaThree popes together stryuing for the popedome.which was then betwene three Popes, striuing for the Popedome. The first whereof was Iohn, whom the Italians set vp. The seconde was Gregory, whom the French men set vp. The third was Benedict, whom the Spaniardes placed. In this schismaticall ambicious conflict, euery one defēded his pope, to the great disturbance of Christian nations. This coūcell indured. iiij. yeares long, wherein all their matters were decided most by. iiij. nations, to saye the Englishe, Germaine, French, and Italian nation. Out of which foure nations wer appointed and chosen. iiij. Presidents to iudge and determine the matters of the councel. Thenames of which Presidents were these, Iohn the Patriarke of Antioch for Fraunce, Anthonye Archbishop of Rigen for Italy, Nicholas Archbishop of Genesuensis for Germany, and Nicholas bishop of Bathe for England, MarginaliaThe prelats assembled in this coūcell were numbred together with their deputies. 1940.
Philip and Cheiny &c.
by whom many great and profitable things to the glory of God, and publike profit, might haue beene concluded, if the rotten fleshe of the churchmen coulde haue bidden the salt of the Gospell, and if they had loued the truth: but as Gregorius Nazianzenus writeth, MarginaliaGregorius in Epistoloquadā.ther lightly come few generall councels, but they end more wyth disturbance, then tranquilitie. So it happened in thys councell, for where as Iohn the. xiij. in the first session exhorteth them by these woordes taken out of the. viij. of Zacharie, Veritatē diligite, that is to say: Loue þe truth, further, monishing them, & specially the Deuines euery man to do hys endeuor for the vnitye of the church, and to speake their mynde freely: but how soone this hys exhortacion was forgotten, it appeared shortlye after by the despising of the prophets, and persecuting of Christ in hys members, as by the grace of Christ shall appeare hereafter in the processe of thys storye. First this Iohn dyd resigne hys papacye, the Emperour geuyng hym thankes kyssed hys feete.

[Back to Top]

Afterward the sayd Iohn repenting him that he had so done, sought meanes to flee, whereunto Fredericke Duke of Austrich did assist him, for hee chaunging hys garmentes, fled by night with a small companye. MarginaliaPope Iohn takē & cast in pryson.And when he was now come vnto Schafhouse to go into Italy, themperour pursuing, tooke him, and proclaymed Fredericke traytor, and for that cause tooke away cer-

[Back to Top]
tayne
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield