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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVII: The Crusades Against the Hussites,   pp. 586-646 ff. PDF (24.0 MB)

Page 589

indeed, was deposed on May 29, 1415, by the same council that was to have
Hus burned so soon afterward. But Odo Colonna, who in 1417 was to replace
John and his two rival popes, Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, and thus as
pope Martin V effectively put an end to the Great Schism, was as determined
to fight the ideas of Wyclif and Hus as his predecessors had been.5 Accordingly,
early in 1418 he explicitly charged cardinal John Dominici with the preparations
for a crusade. 
 Sigismund, at this stage, was not yet decided. Having taken from his older
brother Wenceslas IV the dignity of "king of the Romans," he had long had
his eyes also upon the kingdom of Bohemia, which Wenceslas had retained.
During the years between 1415 and 1419 he tried to gain more influence on
the Bohemian situation, but found himself in a difficult position. Hus had
been executed in spite of the safe-conduct issued in his favor by Sigismund,
and a large part of the Czech people, including many of the great lords,
considered the king responsible for this. As early as September 1415 a passionate
declara tion in defense of Hus and his reforming ideas was signed by 452
prominent members of the Czech nobility, lords as well as knights. In response,
the leaders of the Council of Constance put some pressure on Sigismund to
act immediately, using force against this danger ously growing religious
rebellion in the center of Europe; indeed, this seems to have been the origin
of the idea of a great crusade against the Czech "heretics." Among the most
active of the Catholic Czech prelates trying to suppress the rebellious movement
in Bohemia was John "the Iron" (Jan Zelezny), bishop of Litomysl, whom the
council tried to make its legate to Bohemia. Sigismund was not yet willing
to undertake any militant enterprise himself. Instead, he tried to persuade
his brother Wenceslas to take vigorous action. For a time he had little success,
since neither Wenceslas nor his queen Sophia was willing to take a strong
position against the steadily growing reform movement. Above all, the statement
of Prague University in March 1417 upholding the right of laymen to receive
communion under both kinds, not only the bread but also the wine, made a
vast impression,6 even though it went directly against the decisions of the
Council of Constance. 
 During the early months of 1419, however, Wenceslas, partly under the pressure
of his brother Sigismund, came to believe that his royal position would be
in danger if he permitted the Hussite deviations, 
5. Bartos, Husitskd revoluce, I, 48—49. 
6. Kaminsky, Revolution, p. 266. 

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