Critical Apparatus for this Page
View an Image of this PageCommentary on the Text
Person and Place Index  *  Close
Buda [Ofen: German]


Capital of Hungary 1361 - 1541

Coordinates: 47° 30' 0 N, 19° 1' 60 E

Person and Place Index  *  Close
Speyer (Spira) [Spire; Spyre; Spires]

Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Cathedral city

Coordinates: 49° 19' 10" N, 8° 25' 52" E

Person and Place Index  *  Close
Vienna (Wien)


Cathedral city

Coordinates: 48° 12' 0" N, 16° 21' 0" E

712 [688]

K. Henry. 6. The Councell of Basil. A great plague in the Councell of Basill.

Now after that Gabriel Condulmarius was deposed from the bishopricke of Rome, the principall fathers of the Councell being called together in the Chapter house of the great Church consulted together, whether it were expedēt that a new bishop should be created out of hād, or deferred for a time. 

Commentary  *  Close
Council of Basle [II]

In the 1563 edition, Foxe reprinted almost all of the second book of Aeneas Sylvius Picclomini's Commentaries on the Council of Basel, which describes the election of Amadeus, the duke of Savoy, as anti-pope Felix V by the Council. (Cf. Aeneas Sylvius Picclomini, De Gestis Concili Basiliensis Commentarium libri II, ed. Denys Hay and W. K. Smith, second edition, [Oxford, 1997], 189-255 with 1563, pp. 320-330). In the 1570, edition, simply to save space (and paper which was running short in this edition), Foxe made a series of cuts to this material. The editing was actually quite skillfully done; Foxe removed a considerable amount of extraneous detail - e.g., passages detailing the complicated system adopted for electing the anti-pope at Basel, the seating arrangements of the conclave and the ceremonial that took place - while preserving the substance of the theological and ecclesialogical debates.

[Back to Top]

In the 1563 edition, Foxe also introduced a letter written by Cardinal Julian Caeserini, the papal legate in Germany to Eugenius IV, urging the pope not to dissolve the Council of Vienna. The letter was taken from Ortwin Gratius, Fasciculus rerum expetendarum ac fugiendarum (Cologne, 1535), fos. 32r-34r; Foxe's version is complete and accurate. In the same edition, Foxe also introduced a narrative of the summoning of the Hussites to the Council of Basel and of Cardinal Caeserini's oration to them. Although Foxe declares that this material came from Picclomini's Commentaries, it actually came from Picclomini's history of Bohemia. (Although Foxe definitely used the history elsewhere, in this case he was probably repeating the excerpt of it in Gratius' Fasciculus, fos. 156r-160r). Foxe continued to mine Gratius's collection by reprinting a petition from the Hussites to the Council of Basel (cf. Gratius, Fasciculus, fo. 180r-v). Significantly, Foxe did not reprint the response of the Council - whose members, because of their anti-papalism, Foxe was depicting as heroes - which defended communion in one kind and not having the Scriptures in the vernacular (see Gratius, Fasciculus, fos. 180v-181r). And a description of reforms enacted by the Council of Basel also came from Gratius (see Fasciculus, fos. 34v-35v). Ironically, one item, a letter from Martin Meyer to Picclomini, which Foxe states came from Gratius's Fasciculus, actually came from Matthias Flacius, Catalogus Testium Veritatis (Strasbourg, 1562), p. 318.

[Back to Top]

In 1570, in addition to pruning the lengthy extract from Picclomini's Commentaries, Foxe also deleted the letter from Cardinal Caesarini to Eugenius IV. However, he added a laudatory description of Felix V, of the accession of Albert II and of the capture and rescue of the cardinal of Arles, from Conrad of Lichtenau, Abbatis Ursprengensis Chronici, ed. Caspar Hedio (Basel, 1569), pp. 392-3 and 397-8. Foxe also expanded the account of the Hussites and the Council of Basel with extracts from Johannes Cochlaeus, Historiae Hussitarum (Mainz, 1549), pp. 257-8, 260-2 and 267-71. The 1570 version was reprinted without change in the 1576 edition. The letter of Cardinal Caesarini, which had been deleted from the 1570 edition, was restored in 1583.

[Back to Top]

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe councell doth deliberate vpon the popes election. Such as thought good that the election shoulde be done wt speed, shewed how daungerous a thing it was for such a cōgregatiō to be without a head: also what a pestiferous sicknes was in al the City, which not onely consumed young men and children: but also men of middle age, and old men in like maner, and that this plague came first by straungers vnto the poore of the Citty, and so infected the rich, & now was come vnto the fathers of the councell: amplyfiyng moreouer, and encreasing the terror therof, and making the thing worse then it was, as the maner is. MarginaliaLx. dayes must be delayd after the sea is voyde.Neither doth the decree (sayd they) any thing let or hinder, wherein it is prouided that there should be delay of lx. dayes after the sea is voyde: for that is to be vnderstand, when as the sea is voyd at such time as there is no Councell holden, neyther ought we to tary or make any delay, least the Princes being perswaded by Gabriel, should resist: Vnto whom the deposition of Gabriell, and the election of some other, is to be certified all vnder one message. The other which thought good that there should be a delay sayde: that the Councell did lacke no head, for so muche as Christ was the head thereof: neither did lacke a ruler, for so much as it was gouerned by the Presidents & other officers: MarginaliaNote the Christian zeale of these mē, which would refuse no daunger for Gods cause.and that no mention shoulde be made of any pestilence in such case, seing that, vnto stout & strong men, death is not to be feared, neither can any thing daunt or feare thē which contend for the Christian fayth. As for that pestilēce which doth now encrease and grow in the City, forasmuch as iudgement is now geuen, it is to be hoped that it wyll asswage, which was thought to haue come for the neglecting of iustice. Also that in so doubtful a mattcr, they ought rather to vse the princes agaynst theyr will, then to neglect them: and that it is not be feared, but that in this case, God will helpe those that are stoute & valiaunt. The matter being thus discussed amongest them, (albeit that there was as many mindes, as there was men) yet it seemed vnto them all, that it was most profitable to choose the Byshop by and by, but most honest to deferre it.

[Back to Top]

Hereupon Iohn Segouius, MarginaliaIohn Segouius. a man of excellent learning sayd: Most reuerend fathers, I am diuersly drawne by sundry reasons, to this side and that. But as I way the matter more deeply in my minde, this is my opinion, that to come to a speedy election, it seemeth good, to speake after mans iudgement: but to delay it for two moneths, to speak after Gods iudgement, it seemeth much better. I do iudge that not onely the wordes, but also the meaning of our decree, ought to be obserued. MarginaliaDangerous honestie preferred before secure vtilitie.Wherefore, if ye will geue any credite vnto me, folow rather daungerous honesty, thē secure vtility: albeit that in deede, vtility cannot be discerned from honesty. This opinion of delay took place among the Fathers, and they determined to staye for the space of two monethes.

[Back to Top]

In the meane time, messēgers were sent vnto the princes to declare the deposition of Eugenius by the Synode, and publish it abroad.

During this time, the corrupt ayre was nothing at all purged, but the mortality dayly encreasing, many died and were sicke. Whereupon a sodayne feare came vpon the fathers. Neyther were they sufficiently aduised what they might do: for they thought it not to be without daunger, either to depart or to tary. Notwithstanding they thought it good to tary, & also they caused other to tary: that since they had ouercome famine, and the assaults of theyr enemies on earth, they would not seme to shrinke for the persecutiō of any plague or sicknes. But forsomuch as the could not all be kept there, it was politickly prouided, that the councell should not seme to be dissolued for any mās departure. And for the more establishmēt of the matter, there were certain thinges read before the fathers, which they called De stabilimento, whose authority continued long time after. MarginaliaA gret pestilence in Basil.When as the Dogge dayes were come, and that all herbes withered with heat, the pestilence dayly encreased more & more, that it is incredible how many dyed. It was to horrible to see the corses hourely caryed through the streetes, when on euery side there was weeping, wayling, & sighing. There was no house voyd of mourning: no myrth or laughter in no place, but matrones bewayling their husbandes, & the husbandes theyr wiues. Men & women went through the streetes, and durst not speake one vnto another. Some taryed at home, and other some that went abroad, had perfumes to smell vnto to preserue them agaynst the plague.

[Back to Top]

The common people dyed without nūber: and like as in the cold Autumne, the leaues of the trees do fall, euen sodid the youth of the City consume and fall away. The violence of the disease was such, that ye should haue met a mā mery in the street now, and within x. houres heard that he had bene buryed. The number of the dead corses was such also that they lacked place to bury them in: in so much that all the Churchyards were digged vp, and filled with dead corses, & great holes made in the Parish Churches, wheras a great number of corses being thrust in together, they couered them ouer with earth. For which cause the fathers were so afraid, that there appeared no bloud in their faces: and specially the sodayne death of Ludouicus the Prothonotary MarginaliaLodouicus the prothonotary dyed of the plague. did make all men afrayd, who was a strong man & florishing in age, & singularly learned in both lawes: whō the same enuious and raging sicknes tooke away in a few houres. By and by after dyed Ludouicus the Patriarke of Aquileia, a man of great age, and brought vp alwayes in troubles and aduersity, neither coulde he see the day of Popes election which he had long wished for: Notwtstanding he tooke partly a consolation in that he had seene Gabriel deposed before his death. This mans death was greuous vnto all the fathers, for now they sayde that two pillers of the Councel were decayed & ouerthrown, meaning the Prothonotary and the Patriarke, whereof the one by the lawe: and the other with his deedes defended the verity of the Councell.

[Back to Top]

About the same time also dyed the king of Arragones Amner in Switzerland, a man of excellent learning, being bishop of Ebron. The Abbot of Vergilia dyed at Spyre & Iohn the bishop of Lubecke, betwene Vienna and Buda.

These two last rehearsed, euen at the point of death, did this thing worthy of remembraunce. Whē as they perceiued the houre of theyr death approche, calling vnto them certayne graue and wise mē, sayd: MarginaliaThe exhortation of those which dyed.All you that be here present, pray to God, that he wlll conuert such as knowledge Gabriell for high Bishoppe, for in that state they cannot be saued: and professing themselues that they would die in the fayth of the Councell of Basill, they departed in the Lord. In Boheme also departed the bishop of Constance, MarginaliaThe Byshop of Cōstance dyeth. which was Ambassador for the Councell. There was great feare and trembling throughout all the Coūcel. There had bene also in the Councell, by a long time, the Abbot of Dona, MarginaliaThe Abbot Dona, a true Abbot. of the Dioces of Cumana, a man poore vnto the worlde, but rich vnto God, whom neither flatterings nor threatnings could turne away from his good purpose & intent, chusing rather to begge in the truth of the fathers, then to abounde in riches with the false flattering aduersaryes.

[Back to Top]

Wherupō, after the Lords were departed, which gaue him his liuing, he remayning still, was stricken with the plague and died. Likewise a great number of the registers and Doctors dyed: and such as fell into that disease, few or none escaped. One amongest all the rest, Æneas Syluius, MarginaliaEneas the author hereof escaped death hardlye. bying strickē with this disease, by Gods helpe escaped. This man lay 3, dayes euen at the poynt of death, all men being in despayre of him: notwithstāding it pleased God to graūt him longer life. When as the pestilence was most feruent & hote, & that daily there dyed about one hundred, there was great intreatye made vnto Cardinall Arelatensis, that he would goe to some other towne or village neare hand: for these were the words of all his frendes & household: What do you most reuerend father? At the least void this wane of the Moone, and saue your selfe: who being safe, all we shall also be safe: if you dye, we all perish. If the plague oppresse you, vnto whom shall we flye? Who shall rule vs? or who shall be the guide of this most faythfull flocke? The infectiō hath already inuaded your chamber. Your Secretarye and chamberlayne are already dead, Consider the great daūger and saue both your selfe and vs. MarginaliaThe inuincible constancie and fortitude of the Cardinall Arelatensis.But neither the intreatye of his household, neither þe corses of those which were dead coulde moue him, willing rather to preserue the Councell with perill of his life, then to saue his life with perill of the coūcel: for he did know that if he should depart. few would haue taryed behinde, and that deceite shoulde haue beene wrought in his absence.

[Back to Top]

Wherfore, like as in wars the souldiors feare no daunger, when as they see theyr Captayne in the midst of theyr enemyes: so the fathers of the Councell were ashamed to flye from this pestilence, seing theyr President to remayne with them in the middest of all daungers. Which theyr doinges did vtterly subuert the opinion of thē, which babled abroad, that the fathers taryed in Basill to seeke their own profite and commodity, and not the verity of the fayth: for there is no commodity vpon the earth, which men would chaunge for theyr liues: for that all suche as doe serue the world, do prefer before all other thinges. But these our fathers shewing themselues an inuincible strōg wall for the house of God, vanquishing all the craftye deceites whiche Gabriell vsed, and ouercōming all difficultyes, which this

[Back to Top]
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.
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.
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield