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596 [572]

K. Henry 5. The councell of Constaunce. Bohemians.

The same pope called a Councell at Rome about foure yeares before, at the earnest sute of diuers mē. MarginaliaThe story of an Owle appearing at the councell of Pope Iohn.And a Masse of the holy Ghost beyng sayd at the entraunce into the sayd Councell (according to the accustomed maner) the Councell beyng set, and the sayd Iohn sittyng highest in a chayre prepared for him for that purpose: MarginaliaEx Nich. Clemangis.Behold a hougly and dreadefull Owle, or as the common prouerbe is, the euill signe of some mischaunce of death to folow, commyng out of the backe halfe of him, flew to & fro, with her euill fauoured voyce, and standyng vpon the middle beame of the Church, cast her staryng eyes vpon the Pope sittyng,the whole cōpany began to maruell, to see the night Crow, whiche is wont to abyde no light, how she should in the midday come in the face of such a multitude, & iudged (not without cause) that it was an ill fauoured token. For beholde sayd they, (whisperyng one in an others eare) the spirite appeareth in the shape of an Owle. And as they stode beholdyng one an other, and aduising the Pope, scarsly could keepe their coūtenaunce from laughter, Iohn himselfe, vppon whom the Owle stedfastly looked, blushyng at the matter, began to sweat and to freat and fume with himselfe, and not findyng by what other meanes he might salue the matter, beyng so confused dissoluyng the Councell, rose vp and departed. After that there folowed an other session. In the whiche the Owle agayne, after the maner aforesaid, although, as I beleue, not called, was present looking stedfastly vpon the byshop, whom he beholdyng to be come agayne, was more ashamed then he was before (and iustly) saying he could no longer abyde the sight of her, & commaunded that she should be driuen away with battes and shottynges: but she beyng afrayde neither with their noyse, neither of any thyng els, would not away, vntill that with the strokes of the stickes, which were throwne at her, she fell downe dead before them all. This I learned of a faythfull frend, who at the same tyme came to Rome, the which thyng I scarsly credityng for the rarenes of the matter, he affirmed by his othe, that it was most certaine & true: addyng moreouer that all there present were much offended, & did greatly deride that Councell called for such a purpose, and by litle and litle the Councell was dissolued, nothing done there, as he saith. Although it hath not bene alwayes sene that such spirituall Doues haue bene present with Popes and their Councels, and gouerned them: yet their euill doctrine declareth no lesse: Read gentle reader the booke of Clemangis, and thou shalt not thincke thy labour euil bestowed. For he hath both learnedly, truely, freely and godly, bewayled the filthynes of Antichrist, and his ministers, their wickednes, impietie and crueltie, and the miserable state and face of the Church. &c. And thus much for Pope Iohn.

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¶ The councell of Constance. 
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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.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe councell of Constance.HEre by the way is to be noted and vnderstand, that duryng all this time of pope Iohn, there were three popes raignyng together, neither was yet the schisme ceased, which so long tyme had continued, the space (as I sayd) of. xxix. yeares. By the reason wherof a general Councell was ordained & holden at Constance in the same yeare, an. 1414. beyng called by Sigismund the Emperour, and pope Iohn the. xxiij. for the pacifieng of the foresayd schisme, MarginaliaThree popes together stryuing for the popedome.whiche was then betwene three Popes, striuyng for the popedome. The first whereof was Iohn, whom the Italians set vp. The second was Gregory, whom the Frenchmen set vp. The third was Benedict, whom the Spanyardes placed. In this schismaticall ambicious conflict, euery one defended his Pope, to the great disturbance of Christian natiōs. This councell indured. foure yeares long, wherein all their matters were decided most by foure natiōs, to say the English, Germaine, French, and Italian natiō. Out of which foure nations were appointed and chosen foure Presidents to iudge and determine the matters of the Councell. The names of which Presidents were these, Iohn the Patriarke of Antioche for Fraunce, Anthony Archbishop of Rigen for Italy, Nicholas Archbyshop of Genesuensis for Germany, and Nicholas Byshop of Bathe for England, MarginaliaThe prelates assembled in this councell were numbred together with their deputies. 1940.
Philip & Cheiny &c.
by whom many great and profitable thyngs to the glory of God, and publike profite, might haue bene concluded, if the rotten flesh of the Churchmen could haue bidden the salt of the Gospell, and if they had loued the truth: but as Gregorius Nazianzenus writeth, MarginaliaGregorius in Epistoloquadam.there lightly come few general Councels, but they end more wyth disturbance, then tranquilitie. So it happened in this Coūcel, for where as Iohn the. xiij. in the first session exhorteth them by these wordes taken out of the. viij. of Zacharie, Veritatem diligite, that is to say: Loue the truth, further, monishyng them, and specially the Deuines euery man to do his endeuor for the vnitie of the Church, and to speake their mynde freely: but howsoone this his exhortation was forgotten, it appeared shortly after by the despising of the Prophetes, and persecutyng of Christ in his members, as by the grace of Christ shal appeare hereafter in the processe of this story. First this Iohn did resigne his Papacie, the Emperour geuing him thākes kissed his feete.

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Afterward the sayd Iohn repentyng him that he had so done, sought meanes to flee, whereunto Fredericke Duke of Austrich did assiste him, for he chaungyng his garmētes, fled by night with a small company. MarginaliaDuke Fredericke of Austrich proclaymed traytour.And when he was now come vnto Schafhouse to go into Italy, the Emperour pursuyng, tooke him, and proclaymed Fredericke traytour, and for that cause tooke away certaine Cities from him. MarginaliaPope Iohn takenand cast in prisō.At the last the matter was appeased vnder this condition, that Friderike should require grace of the Emperour, and resigne all his possessions vnto him. Whereupō the Emperour receiued him agayn in to fauour, & restored him to his dukedome. This Pope being thus deposed, was committed vnto the County Pallatine, and by him caried to the Castle of Manheime, where he was kept prisoner by the space of iij. yeares. Afterward he was agayne by Pope Martine, admitted to the number of Cardinals.

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This Pope Iohn was deposed by the decree of the Coūcel, more then. 40. most greuous and haynous crimes being obiected and proued agaynst him: MarginaliaMarke the good qualities of pope that he had hired Marcilius Permensis a Phisicion, to poyson Alexāder his predecessour. Further, that he was an hereticke, a simoniake, a lyer, an hypocrite, a murderer, an inchaunter, a diceplayer, an adulterer, and a sodomite, and finally what crime is it, that he was not infected withall?

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And now to returne vnto the Coūcell, first we will declare the order of their Sessions, with thinges therein concluded, in general: then we will (Christ willing) adioyne the speciall tractation of such matters, as perteine to the story of the Bohemians, and Iohn Hus, and Hierome of Prage, who in the same vngodly Councell were condemned and burned.

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This councell therfore of Constance, which was summoned by the Emperour Sigismund, and Pope Iohn 23. about the natiuitie of our Lord Iesus, an. 1414. began the same yeare to be assembled about the latter end of the yeare. MarginaliaA writing set vp how the holy ghost had no laysure to come to the councell of Constance.Which first beginning as the maner is, with a Masse of the holy Ghost, as they were singing according to their custome, the Hymne, Veni sancte spiritus, there was at the same time a certayne Bill set vp in the Church by some well disposed man, as it seemed, wherin was conteyned these wordes folowing: Alijs rebus occupati nunc adesse vobis non possumus. That is to say. We are otherwise occupyed at thys tyme, we can not intend to come to you. Here is also to be remembred the worthy saying of the Emperour Sigismund, when talke was ministred as touching the reformation of the spiritualtie, and some sayd ф oporteat incipere a minoritis, that is, that reformation ought first to beginne at the Minorites. The Emperour aunswering againe: MarginaliaThe worthy aunswere of the Emperour touching the order of reformationNon a minoritis, sed a maioritis, that is, not with the Minorites sayth he, but withthe Maiorites. Meanyng the reformation ought first to begyn with the Pope, Cardinals & Bishops and other superiour states of the church, and so to discend after to the inferiours. Thus much by the way, & now to the purpose and order of the Sessions as we promised. The which Coūcell continued as is aforesayd by the space of iiij. yeares, and had in it 45. Sessions, wherin many thynges were cōcluded, the which altogether were to long to be recited in this place: as the deposition of three seuerall Popes, whiche were before spoken of, the hearyng of certaine Legates. Yet I mynde to make some brief recapitulation of the most principall matters there done in the Sessions orderly ensuyng.

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Note by this example, the authoritie of councels preferred before the pope.
In the first Session chiefly was cōcluded, first that this Councell was lawfully congregate.

2. Item, that the goyng away of the pope should be no let or stay, but that the Councell might procede.

¶ Wherein note (gentle Reader) that the authoritie of the generall Councell is aboue the Pope, contrary to their owne doctrine.

3. Item, this Councell should not be dissolued before the Church were reformed, as well in the superiours, as inferiours. Marginalia4.
In the iiij. Session amongest other thynges, this was first concluded: That a Synode congregate in the holy Ghost, makyng a generall Coūcell, representyng the whole Catholicke Church here militāt, hath power of Christ immediatly, to the which power euery person, of what state or dignitie soeuer he be: yea beyng the pope himselfe, ought to be obedient in all such thinges as cōcerne the generall reformatiō of the Church, aswel in the heads, as in the subiectes.

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