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Jerome of Prague, Austria and the Hussites*

  • Paul P. Bernard (a1)


That Czech nationalism was the mainspring of the Hussite movement has long been an article of faith among those concerning themselves with the history of that protean wave of reform which swept over Central Europe a full century before the Protestant Reformation. It is not the intent of this paper to quarrel with this fundamental assumption. The assumption has, however, a corollary, namely that because the Hussites were prima facie Czech nationalists and that because this nationalism was patently anti-German, Hussitism could not by definition and consequently did not take root in the Germanic lands bordering upon Bohemia. An attempt will be made here to examine this a priori position in the light of some empirical researches into the history of the Lands of the Austrian Crown in the first half of the fifteenth century.



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1. For a relatively moderate statement of this position, see Vancsa, M., Geschichte Nieder- und Oberösterreichs, 2 vols., Stuttgart: 1927, II, pp. 258259.

2. Aschbach, J., Geschichte der Wiener Universität im Ersten Jahrhunderte ihres Bestehens, Vienna: 1865, p. 15. See also Winter, E. K., Rudolph IV. von Oesterreich, 2 vols., Vienna: 1934, 1936, I, chap. 5.

3. Bittner, K., Deutsche und Tschechen: zur Geistesgeschichte des böhmischen Raumes, Brno: 1936, pp. 140141; Tomek, E., Kirchengeschichte Oesterreichs, 2 vols., Innsbruck: 1935, 1949, I, p. 268; on Totting von Oyta see Lang, A., Heinrich Totting von Oyta, Münster; 1937.

4. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 296. Langenstein was rector of the University of Vienna in 1393.

5. cf. Pruckner, H., Studien zu den astrologischen Schriften des Heinrich von Langenstein, Leipzig: 1933.

6. Pulka was rector of the University in 1407, 1411 and again in 1421.

7. Dinkeispithel was rector of the University in 1405.

8. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 297; Kralik, R., Geschichte der Stadt Wien und ihrer Kultur, Vienna: 1933, p. 102; Wien, Alter thums-Verein zu, Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 6 vols., Vienna: 1897, ff., II, 2, p. 525. It is quite possible that this unnamed professor should be identified with Andreas Hefel who, according to a Würzburg codex, was in difficulties with the Provincial of the Celestines Petrus in Vienna in 1403 because of his unorthodox views on confession and on the Eucharist. See Haupt, H., “Hussitische Propaganda in Deutschland” in Friedrich von Raumers Historisches Taschenbuch, VI, no. 7, Leipzig: 1888, pp. 244245. While the nature of Hefel's divergent opinions would rather point to the Augsburg preacher than to a professor of the arts faculty, there is nothing to suggest that Hefel was not from Vienna. A Würzburg Ms. would very likely mention that the man in question came from Augsburg.

9. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 298; Kralik, op. cit., p. 102; Friess, G. E., “Herzog Albrecht V. von Oesterreich und die Husiten” in XVII. Programm des K. K. Ober-Gymnasiums der Benedictiner Zu Seitenstetten (Linz, 1883), p. 7, perhaps as the result of a misprint, erroneously places this sermon in the year 1408.

10. Friess, op. cit., p. 7.

11. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 298.

12. In Haupt, , “Hussitische Propaganda…”, p. 242. For the early contacts of Jerome with Hus and his circle see Novotný, V., M. Jan Hus, život a učení, (Prague, 1919, 1921), passim.

13. Palacky, F., Geschichte von Böhmen, 5 vols. in 10, Prague: 18441867, III, 1, p. 300. Apparently the Paris affair was wound up without any subsequent unpleasantness for Jerome. About the eventual repercussions of the Heidelberg dispute, see infra. There is no record of Jerome's having ventured outside of Bohemia prior to 1406, but as almost nothing is known of his early life, it is quite possible that he did. On Jerome cf. Novotný, V., “M. Jeroným Pražský” in Naše Doba, 1916, pp. 743 ff., and the recent study of Betts, R. R., “Jerome of Prague” in University of Birmingham Historical Journal, I (1947), pp. 5191. Betts, relying also primarily on Klicman, gives a very similar account of Jerome's Vienna trial. The present writer feels that some duplication is justifiable for the sake of continuity.

14. Quoted in Palacky, , Geschichte…, III, 1, pp. 300, 301.

15. Palacky, , Geschichte…, III, 1, p. 301.

16. Klicman, L., “Der Wiener Process gegen Hieronymus von Prag, 1410–1412” in Mittheilungen des Instituts für Oesterreichische Geschichtsforschung, no. 21, Innsbruck: 1900, p. 448.

17. Ibid.

18. Krones, F., Grundriss der Oesterreichischen Geschichte mit besonderer Rücksicht auf Quellen und Literaturkunde, Vienna: 1882, p. 378; see also Krones, F., Handbuch der Geschichte Oesterreichs von der ältesten bis neuesten Zeit, mit besonderer Rücksicht auf LänderVötkerkunde und Culturgeschichte, 5 vols., Berlin: 18761879, II, P. 225. According to Brunner, O., “Die Politik der Stadt Wienma späteren Mittelalter: 1396–1526” in Historische Studien A. F. Pribram. zum 70. Geburt stag Dargebracht, Vienna: 1929, p. 16, the five were accused specifically of fomenting a conspiracy in favor of Leopold. For a near-contemporary description of this affair, see Thomae Ebendorfferi de Haselbach Chronicon Austriacum Libris V. comprehensum, ab ejusdem gentis origine ad annum usque MCCCCLXIII perductum, in Pez, H., Scriptores Rerum Austriacarum, 2 vols., Leipzig: 1721, 1725, II, col. 832.

19. Wien, Alterthuins-Verein zu, Geschichte…, II, 2, p. 523.

20. Kurz, F., Oesterreich unter König Albrecht dem Zweyten, 2 vol, Vienna: 1835, I, p. 145.

21. Kurz, op. cit., p. 145, speaks of “Manche Bewohner Wiens” who became Jerome's “folgsame Schüler”; the Wien, Alterthums-Verein zu, Geschichte…, II, 2, p. 525 writes that Jerome “… durch seine Predigten Anhänger gewann”; Denis, E., Huss et la Guerre des Hussites, Paris: 1878, p. 298, writes: “A Vienne, Jerome de Prague avait, pendant son séjour, converti quelques uns des professeurs de l'universitéet 1'on craiguit un moment qu'il tie se formât là un grand centre d'hérésie, d'ou elle se scrait répandu dans tout le bassin du Danube.” This last assertion seems somewhat gratuitous. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 298, says of Jerome's teachings: “Sie fanden zwar bei der Universität keinen Eingang, wohl aber bei der Wiener Bürgersehaft.”

22. Kralik, op. cit., pp. 102–103; Kurz, op. cit., I, pp. 145–146.

23. Aschbach, op. cit., p. 298. According to Krones, , Handbuch…, II, p. 242, Jerome was accused of being a picardistic heretic. However, no reference to picardism or to Picards appears at any place in the records of the trial.

24. Klicman, L., (Ed.), Processus Iudicarius contra Jeronimum De Praga Habitus Viennae A. 1410–1413, Prague: 1898, p. V. The account of the trial is found in the Vatican Codex Ottobonianus lat. 348, ff. 260–280. Palacky, F., Literarische Reise nach Italien im Jahre 1837 zur Aufsuchung von Quellen der Böhmischen und Mährischen Geschichte, Prague: 1838, p. 60, draws attention to this codex, but does not mention the account of the trial itself, which suggests that he did not have the opportunity to examine the text.

25. Klicman, Processus…, p. v.

26. Klicman, Processus…, p. vi. The distance he mentions suggests that he may have come from Bratislava.

27. Klicman, “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 448.

28. Ibid.

29. Klicman, , Processus…, p. vi. The offer of a defender to Jerome is in itself unusual, as since the time of the synods of Alby and Valences under Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241) it was the custom not to grant the aid of counsel to persons accused of heresy.

30. Klicman, , “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 449. this list isidentical with that of the forty-five articles condemned by the German majority at the University of Prague. That these articles should rappear in Vienna unchanged is, of course, not a concidence. cf. Palacky, F., Documenta Mag. Jonnis Husvitam, etc., Prague: 1869, pp. 327330.

31. Klicman, , “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 449.

32. This may be a reference to his difficulties at Heidelberg or to the part he played in the part he played in the dispute at the Universtity of Pargue. However, it is not on record that he had ever been excommunicated prior to this trial.

33. Klieman, Processus…, p. vi. This last is the only hint as to reasons for Jerome's quick release in Hungary which we possess. It is, however, suspect, as it does not appear in any other place. Moreover, it is doubtful if Archbishop Zbyněk would, after having in the first instance denounced him, have interceded for Jerome. Admittedly, it is all but impossible to supply another adequate reason for Jerome's release.

34. Klicman, “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 450.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Vencsa, op. cit., II, p. 258.

39. Klicman, , “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 451. Kurz, op.cit., I, p. 147. Palacky, , Geschiete…, III, 1, p. 301.

40. Klieman, , “Der Wiener Process …”, pp. 451452.

41. The testimony of all the witnesses is reproduced in Klicman, Processus…, pp. 12–34. The greater part of it is of interest for the history of the University of Prague but not for that of Vienna.

42. Vancsa, op. cit., II, p. 258. The exact date of Jerome's flight is uncertain; Palacky, , Geschichte …, III, 1, p. 301, puts it at the beginning of September; Kurz, op. cit., I, pp. 147–148, writes that it occurred just prior to the day on which the trial would have been completed and the verdict read, which would put it after the middle of September, but it is unlikely that Jerome would have waited that long. At any rate, he was almost certainly at the Austrian- Moravian border by 12 September. See infra.

43. Quoted in Palacky, , Geschichte…, III, 1, p. 301.

44. Kurz, op. cit., I, pp. 147–148: Klicman, “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 454.

45. Kurz, op. cit., I, pp. 147–148. According to Klicman, , “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 454, Jerome was excommunited on 20 October, but the act of excommunication, as reproduced in Palacky, Documenta…, pp. 417–420, is dated 30 September.

46. The text of this letter is given in Palacky, Documenta…, pp. 408–409.

47. Klicman, , “Der Wiener Process…”, p. 454.

48. Bietow was nominally still within Austria but was under the jurisdiction of John of Idehtenberg and Bietow, a friend and admirer of Hus. Jerome could thus pursue his polemic bent there in all safety. See Palacky, , Documenta …, p. 416.

49. Klieman, , “Der Wiener Process …,” p. 454. The full text of the letter, dated 12 September, is reproduced in Palacky, , Documenta …, p. 416.

50. Klieman, , “Der Wiener Process …”, p. 454.

51. Friess, op. cit., p. 7; Vancsa, op. cit., II, p. 258; Kurz, op. cit., I, pp. 145–146.

52. Ibid.

53. Ibid.

54. Aschbaeh, op. cit., p. 298; Friess, op.cit., pp. 7–8. At the same time at which he had asked the University to overrule the decision of the Btadtrath, Grippenperk had also asked it for an opinion on how one should proceed against the Wyclif ite proselytizers in Vienna.

55. Kralik, op. cit., p. 103; Wien, Alterthums Verein zu, Geschichte …, II, 2, p. 525; Friess, op. cit., p. 8.

56. Anonymi Viennensis Breve Chronicon Austriacarwm ab anno MCCCCII ad MCCCCXLIII, in Pez, op. cit., II, col. 549. Despite what the chronicler writes, Giesser was, of course, only too willing to renounce his beliefs. (Tilmez, F. and Mitterdorfer, S.), Conspectus Bistoriae Vniversitatis Viennensis ex actis veteribusque documentis erutae a prvmis illius initiis ad annum usque 1465; 1465–1565; 1565–1701 deductae. 3 vols., Vienna: 17221725, I, p. 96, give a full account of the Giesser episode.

57. Kurz, op. cit., I, p. 146; Aschbaeh, op. cit., p. 298.

58. Priess, op. cit., p. 8.

59. Kurz, op. cit., I, p. 202; Aschbaeh, op. cit., p. 299. This is the same bull which caused so much difficulty in Bohemia when Hus objected to the selling of indulgences to implement it. The bull was truly one of John XXIII's lesser inspirations. Both Thiem and Pace had been charged with implementing the bull in Vienna and thus had ample reason to feel animosity toward the University. See Aschbaeh, op. cit., p. 255. Apparently Thiem and Pace included a charge in their accusations to the effect that Hus had visited Vienna in order to spread his heretical beliefs and was accorded a friendly welcome by the University. There can be no question of a confusion of Hus with Jerome, as Jerome's visit lay only two years back and had certainly caused enough of a stir. The confusion may, of course, have been intentional. See Aschbach, op. cit., pp. 255–256.

60. Kurz, op. cit., p. 202.

61. Vancsa, op. cit., II, pp. 258–259. The Austrian delegation to Constance was headed by Nicholas von Dinkelspühel and included Petrus Czech von Pulka. See Hefele, C. J. and Leclerq, H., Histoire des Conciles d'aprês les Documents Originaux, 10 vols. in 19, Paris: 19071938, VII, 1, pp. 171172.

62. Siwart had studied in Vienna, became a bachelor of arts in 1408 and was dean of the Faculty of Theology in 1412. See Loserth, J., “Ueber die Versuche wiclif-husitische Lehren nach Oesterreich, Polen, Ungarn und Croatien zu verpflanzen” in Mittheilungen des Vereines für Geschichte der Deutsehen in Böhmen, XXIV, No. 2, Prague: 1886, p. 98.

63. MsVienna, , Cod. Pal. Vind. 4299, f. 230ab.

64. MsVienna, , Cod. Pal. Vind. 4299, ff. 230b-231a. cf. Vischer, M., Jan Hus: Sein Leben and Seine Zeit, 2 vols., Frankfurt a M.: 1940, I, p. 381.

65. Loserth, , “Ueber die Versuche…” p. 99; Vischer, op. cit., II, p. 288.

66. Höfler, K., Geschichtschreiber der Husitischen Bewegung in Böhmen, Fontes Rerum Austriacarum: Scriptores, II, VII, 3 vols., Vienna: Prague Ms., Cod. Univ. Prag. 1. G. lic, f. (89b-91a.) Palacky, , Documenta…, pp. 6364, reproduces an inferior Viennese text. The text given by Novotný, V., M. Jana Husi Korespondence a Dokumenty, Prague: 1920, No. 67, pp. 173175, taken largely from Prague Chapter Library Ms. C 132. ff. 157b 158a agrees in all major points with the Prague text reproduced by Höfler. This would seem to be one of the few occasions when the latter did not go astray.

67. Haupt, op. cit., p. 244; Loserth, , “Ueber die Versuche…,” p. 100. The text of this rather long letter is to be found in MsVienna, , Cod. Pal. Vind. 4299, ff. 232b-235b.

68. Tomek, op. cit., I, p. 277.

69. Vancsa, op. cit., II, p. 259; Friess, op. cit., p. 8.

70. Widmann, H.. Geschichte Salsburgs, 3 vols., Gotha: 19091914, pp. 242243; cf. Hefele-Leclerq, op. cit., VII, 1, p. 133.

71. Universitatis Viennensis, Act. Fac. Art., f. 182.

72. Wien, Alterthums-Verein zu, Quellen zur Geschichte der Stadt Wien, 17 vols. in 3 series, Vienna: 1898, ff., II, 2, p. 38; Tomek, op. cit., I, p. 277. “1418…Hoc anno Albertus V. dux Austriae, missis sollemnibus ambasiatoribus, videlicet comite de Schaunberg, Stephano de Hohenberg et Georgio de Starhenberg, una cum sollemnibus doctoribus theologie et iuris canonici, impetravit sibi dari de Italia monachos ordinis sancti Benedicti, ad reformandum monasteria eiusdem ordinis in Austria. …” W. Wattenbach, Ed., Annales Mellicenses, in M.G.H., Scriptores, XI. Whether the visitation mentioned here came as a result of the edict in question is not clear.

73. This previous edict seems to have been lost, as there is no reference to it in any of the standard collections. The full text of the edict of 1418 is to be found in Hormayr, J., Wiens Geschichte, 9 vols., Vienna: 18231825, II, p. 97, no. 89. Both spelling and capitalization are bizarre, even for the early fifteenth century, giving one an insight into what must have been the condition of Albreeht's chancery.

74. Ebendorfer, apud Pez, II, col 846. For a discussion of the Austrian Waldenses, see Bernard, P. P., “Heresy in Fourteenth Century Austria,” in Medievalita et Humanistica, Fasc. X., Boulder: 1956, pp. 5063.

75. Haupt, op. cit., pp. 244–245. In view of the persecutions of the Jews which were soon to follow (1421) such opinions were apparently given at least some credence in official circles. See Kralik, op. cit., p. 105.

76. Friess, op. cit., p. 10; Palacky, , Geschichte…, III, 2, p. 108.

77. von Sava, K., Ed., VII. Codex diplomaticus Austriae inferioris. (Krems), in Notizenblatt: Beilage zum Archiv für Kunde österreichischer Geschichtsquellen, no. 1, Vienna: 1851, pp. 255256, no. 38.

78. MsVienna, , Cod. Pal. Vind. 4570, ff. 8890. The similarity of these teachings with those of some of the more extreme Taborite sects, particularly those of the Adamites, is striking. See Loserth, J., Die Reformation und Gegenreformation in den innerösterreichischen Ländern im XVI. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart: 1898, p. 16. According to Aschbach, op. cit., p. 300, the original letter of complaint was addressed to the Archbishop of Salzburg, who in turn referred the matter to the University.

79. Haupt, op. cit., p. 245.

80. Hantsch, H., Die Geschichte Oesterreichs, 2 vols., Graz: 1950, 1951, I, p. 167; Tomek, op. cit., I, pp. 277–278.

81. Wien, Alterthums-Verein zu, Geschichte II, 2, p. 527.

82. Haupt, op. cit., p. 245. That all was not well at the University may be deduced from the fact that in 1424 Nicholas von Dinkelspühel thought it necessary to write a long Quaestio de heresibus et hereticis ac de veritatibus katholicis. This may be found in MsVienna, , Cod. Pal. Vind. 4384, ff. la-15b. Dinkelsptühel does not name the heretics he is disputing with, but it does not take much imagination to make the correct inference.

83. See Lützow, F., The Hussite Wars, London: 1914, pp. 367371, for the very strict rules of conduct imposed on the Hussite armies by Žižka. Real brutality on the part of the Hussites was much more evident in the Czech civil wars. cf. Toman, H., Husitské válečinctví za doby Žižkovy a Prokopovy. Prague: 1878, pp. 7493, and Heymann, F. G., John Žižka and the Hussite Revolution, Princeton: 1955, chap. 23, passim.

84. “…er schlueg auch auff die prelaten und stött 60000 fl. ala zu einem lehen, die wurden nie bezailt.” Zeibig, H. J., Ed., Die Kleine Klosterneuburger Chronik, in Archiv für Kunde Oesterreichischer Geschichts-Quellen, VII, 1851, p. 246. A wealthy and powerful monastery such as Klosterueuburg could refuse to pay but hardly a Viennese burgher.

85. Anonymi Vieenensis Breve Chronicon …, apud Pez, II, col. 550.

86. Lötzow, op. cit., p. 184. For a detailed description of this campaign, see Paltrami seu Vatzonis Consulis Viennensis Chronicon Austriacum a primo natis Servatoris anno usque ad MCCCI, inde a Nicolao Vischel conobita San Crucensi usque ad MCCCX continuatum, denique ab Anonymo quoadam ad annum MCCLV productum, in Pez, op. cit., I, col. 733.

87. Tomek, op. cit., I, p. 278.

88. Winter, E., Tausend Jahre Geisteskampf im Sudetenraum: Das religiöse Ringen zweier Völker, Salszburg: 1938, p. 123; Preidel, H., Ed., Die Deutschen in Böhmen und Mähren: Ein Historischer Rückblick, 2nd. Ed., Gräfelfing: 1952, p. 159.

89. Ibid.

90. Bittner, op. cit., p. 168. This period saw a sharp increase in the volume and pitch of anti-Hussite polemics written in the Germanic countries, which would indicate that the threat of Hussitism was keenly appreciated. These polemics are of a type which would lead one to suspect that they were directed not only at tile Czech Hussites, but also at the native variety. See Kraus, A., Husitsví v literatuře, zejména německé, prvních dvou století svých, Prague: 1917, chap. 2.

91. Bartoš, F. M., Husitsví a cizina, Prague: 1931, p. 223. According to Bartoš, one at least of these manifestoes was translated not by Hussite sympathizers, but by the Viennese religious authorities, in order to facilitate their struggle against the numerous Hussite preachers active in Vienna. But even if we accept the hypothesis that the Latinity of the Viennese clergy was so weak as to require such a translation, this would only indicate how effective the Hussite organs of propaganda were proving to be. One of the manifestoes was, in all probability, Prokop the Bald's “Epistola Procopii et aliorum Hussitarum honorabilibus, providis honestis dominis, consulibus et toti communitati, divitibus et pauperibus” which gave a moderate presentation of the Taborite position and appealed to the socially discontented elements in the neighboring countries to support the Taborites. See Lützow, op. cit., pp. 246–248. This manifesto was written in 1430 and repeated in 1431. Cf. Pekař, P., “český manifest křestanstvu z listopadu 1431” in český časopis Historický, XXXIV, 1928, pp. 370382.

92. Kurz, op. cit., II, p. 242; Aschbach, op. cit., p. 269. Salzburg was not technically a part of Austria, but an independent city ruled by its Archbishop.

93. Haupt, op. cit., p. 245.

94. Palacky, , Geschichte …, III, 2, p. 499.

95. Aschbach, op. cit., pp. 269–270. This last was greatly resented by the professors of the University, especially by Johannes Himmel (Coeli), himself a delegate to Basel. See Kurz, op. cit., II, pp. 242–243. The extension of the visitation to the University may have been due, in part, to the resentment of the Austrian monks at being thus singled out. A certain Augustinian, Heinrich, said of the professors at the University: “… quod non sint tres magistri in Universitate, qui scient predicare.” Quoted in Aschbach, op. cit., p. 300.

96. Kurz, op. cit., II, p. 243.

97. Between 1432 and 1434 one Friedrich Reiser actually tried to bring about an overt affiance between the German and Austrian Waldenses and the Taborites. After Lipany, of course, this was out of the question. See Haupt, op. cit., p. 281.

98. Suggesting itself most strongly as a possible explanation for this circumstance is the narrowly national character of the Hussitism of the victorious Utraquist party, which was not interested in Austria.

* Part of the research for this paper was completed while the author was on a Fulbright Grant in Austria in 1953–1954.

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