and from every direction, the crime for which he was condemnedHeresiarch. Huss looked at it and calmly said, “My Lord Jesus Christ, though innocent, deigned to bear to an infamous death, for wretched me, a far rougher and weightier crown of thorns.” 1

The ceremony of the degradation of Huss was now complete. He was disowned by the church, and no longer as a priest was subject to its exclusive jurisdiction. Given over to the secular arm, it be

, longed to the emperor—such was the orthodox theory of persecution—to do with the prisoner as Pilate with Jesus—what the priests could not-execute capital sentence. Sigismund committed Huss to the charge of Louis, the Elector Palatine, directing him to go and see that he was delivered into the hands of the proper officers. Huss was given over by the elector to the mayor of Constance, and by the latter was placed in the hands of those to whom it belonged to see the sentence executed. They were commanded to burn him, with his clothes, and all indiscriminately that belonged to him, even to his knife and to his purse, from which they were not to take so much as a single penny.

He was led to the place of execution, walking between two officers of the Elector Palatine, and without being chained; two of the police of the city preceded and two followed him. The princes, with an escort of eight hundred armed men, and followed by an immense multitude, drawn by curiosity, interest, or anxiety, accompanied them to the place of execution.

* Mon. Hus. ii. 347; also i. 28.

Cu. II.]



The procession, instead of taking the direct route thither, moved first in a nearly opposite direction, in order to pass upon the way the episcopal palace, in front of which a pile of the prisoner's writings had been heaped up for the flames. The fire was kindled and the books were burned as the procession passed. They had been first condemned, and were first to be consumed. But to Huss the scene appeared simply ridiculous, as indeed it was. Nor did it need a prophet's sagacity to discern that the course pur sued was like to defeat its own object. It was altogether out of the power of the council to obtain and thus destroy all the writings of the reformer. They were too widely scattered and too deeply cherished, and this act of impotent vengeance would only make them the more prized—would attach to them a new importance, and excite a more eager curiosity for their perusal. The scene, even in the solemn circumstances in which Huss was placed, did not fail to draw from him a smile at the senile malice which it displayed.

As the procession passed on, they reached a bridge at which it was necessary to pause. It was not considered safe for the whole multitude to pass over it at once. The armed escort first proceeded, one by one, and then the crowd of citizens followed. Huss improved the occasion to say a few words to the throngs that pressed around to catch a sight of him. He told them, in the German language, that it was not for any heresy that he had been condemned, but through the injustice of his enemies; that they had not been able to convict him of any error,


though he had challenged them to do it so often and so urgently. As he approached the place where le was to be burned, which was a meadow adjoining the garden on the north side of the city, outside the Gottlieben gate, the procession paused, that everything might be made ready for the execution. Here Huss kneeled down, and lifting his eyes toward heaven, prayed-using the language of some of the penitential psalms, especially the thirty-first and fiftieth. Repeatedly he used the petitions, “ Lord Jesus, have mercy on me,” and “O God, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” The crowd around him were surprised at such an exhibition of devotion in one whom they had been taught to regard as a heretic. “What this man may have done before,” said they, “ we know not, but now, certainly, we hear him speak and pray in a godly and devout manner.” 2

Huss was then asked by some who stood byprobably in the hope that the fear of death might lead him to recant—if he would have a confessor. A priest near by on horseback, clothed in a green gown drawn together with a sash of red silk, heard the question asked, and, more anxious for the execution than for a recantation which might even yet snatch the victim from the flames, declared that a confessor ought not to be allowed him because he was a heretic. Huss, however, replied that he would be glad to have one. Ulric Reichenthal—one of the historians of the council -as he himself relates, called for a priest then present to come and receive the

* More probably the fifty-first. ? Mon. Hus., ii. 347.


C. II.]



prisoner’s confession. The name of this priest was Ulric Schorand, a man of repute for learning and integrity, and highly esteemed by the council. He asked Huss whether he was willing to renounce the errors for which he had been condemned to the punishment which he now saw awaiting him. If so, he was ready to confess him; but if not, he must be aware that a heretic, according to the canon law, could neither administer or receive the sacraments. Huss having heard the conditions on which he might be confessed, declined to accept them. He replied, that he did not deem it necessary for him to confess, inasmuch as he did not feel himself to be guilty of any mortal sin. He desired, however, the privilege of improving the occasion to address the people in the German language. But the brutal elector, true to the instincts of his cruel nature and in perfect consistency with his previous course, instead of allowing permission, gave orders that he should immediately be committed to the flames. Huss at once lifted up his voice in prayer. “O Lord Jesus, I would endure with humility, for thy gospel, this cruel death; and I beseech thee, pardon all my enemies.” Such were some of the expressions of his prayer. .

While he was thus engaged in his devotions, with his eyes toward heaven, the paper mitre, which had been placed upon his head in the council, fell off. As Huss turned to behold it, a smile played over his features. Perhaps he saw in the frail thing an emblem of that impotent malice which in vain attempted to affix calumny to his name. The soldiers, however, more inclined to sympathize with their harsh leader, replaced the mitre upon his head, and, referring to the images painted upon it, declared he ought to be burned with the devils he had served.

Having asked and obtained permission to speak to his keepers, Huss thanked them for the kind treatment which he had received at their hands.1 “ Ye have shown yourselves,” said he,“ not merely my keepers, but brethren most beloved. And be assured that I rest with firm faith upon my Saviour, in whose name I am content calmly to endure this sort of death, that I this day may go to reign with him.” These words were spoken in German.

We have other testimony, also, to show that even among his jailers, Huss must already have seen the fruits of his fidelity. He now wished, with his dying breath, to seal the impression that had been made by his life.

He was now stripped of his garments and bound fast to a large stake, through which holes had been bored to secure the cords. Of these there were six or seven, which had been wet in order longer to resist the heat of the flames. One was bound about his ankles, one below and another above the knees, while others were distributed over the upper part of his body as far as the armpits. His hands had previously been bound behind his back, and he was now made fast in this position. The stake was driven downward and made to stand erect in the earth, so as to support the victim while the flames consumed him. By some accident it had happened that Huss, as bound to the stake, stood facing the east. This was

'Mon. Hus., ii. 347.

· Ib 348.

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