Jerome of Prague 1

Jerome of Prague 1
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Jerome of Prague (1379 1416) was part of the pre-reformation movement. He was one of the chief followers and friends of John Hus and was heavily influenced by the writings of John Wyclif.

Philip Schaff writes: One of the chief followers and most devoted friends of John Huss; born at Prague about 1379; burned at the stake at Constance May 30, 1416. His family were well-to-do, and, as he was desirous of seeing the world, after taking his bachelor's degree at the University of Prague in 1398 he secured in 1399 permission to travel. In 1401 he returned to Prague, but in 1402 visited England, and at Oxford copied out the Dialogus and Trialogus of Wyclif, and thus evinced his interest in the great Oxford doctor. He also became an ardent and outspoken advocate of realism, and ever afterward Wyclifism and realism were charges which were constantly getting him into trouble. In 1403 he was in the Holy Land, in 1405 in Paris. There he took his master's degree, but Gerson drove him out. In 1406 he took the same degree in the University of Cologne, and a little later in that of Heidelberg. Nor was he any safer in Prague, to which he returned, and where, in 1407, he took the same degree. In that year he returned to Oxford, but was again compelled to flee. During 1408 and 1409 he was in Prague, and there his pronounced Czech preferences aroused opposition to him in some quarters. Early in Jan., 1410, he made before the university a cautious speech in favor of Wyclif's philosophical views, and this was cited against him at the council of Constance four years later. In Mar., 1410, the bull against Wyclif's writings was issued, and on the charge of favoring them Jerome was imprisoned in Vienna, but managed to escape into Moravia. For this he was excommunicated by the bishop of Cracow. Returned to Prague, he appeared publicly as the advocate of Huss. In 1413 he was in the courts of Poland and Lithuania, making a deep impression by his eloquence and learning. In Cracow he was publicly examined as to his acceptance of the forty-five articles which the enemies of Wyclif had made up from Wyclif's writings and which they asserted represented Wyclif's heretical teachings. Jerome declared that he rejected them in their general tenor. When, on Oct. 11, 1414, Huss left for the council of Constance, Jerome assured him that if need be he would come to his assistance. This promise he faithfully kept, for on Apr. 4, 1415, he arrived at Constante. As he had, unlike Huss, come without a safe-conduct, his friends persuaded him to return to Bohemia. But on his way back he was arrested at Hirschau on Apr. 20 and taken to Sulzbach, where he was imprisoned, and was returned to Constance on May 23, and immediately arraigned before the council on the charge of fleeing a citation--one having been really issued against him, but as he was away at the time he was ignorant of it. His condemnation was predetermined in consequence of his general acceptance of the views of Wyclif, and also because of his open admiration of Huss. Consequently he had not a fair hearing. His imprisonment was so rigorous that he fell seriously ill and so was induced to recant at public sessions of the council held on Sept. 11 and 23, 1415. The words put into his mouth on these occasions made him renounce both Wyclif and Huss. The same physical weakness made him write in Bohemian letters to the king of Bohemia and to the University of Prague, which were declared to be entirely voluntary and to state his own opinions, in which he announced that he had become convinced that Huss had been rightfully burned for heresy. But this pitiful course did not secure his liberation nor decrease the likelihood of his condemnation. For on May 23, 1416, and on May 26, he was put on trial by the council. On the second day he boldly recanted his recantation, and so on May 30 he was finally condemned and immediately thereafter burned. He died heroically. Jerone was of blameless life, and his attachment to the Roman Church was sincere; consequently, as he rejected Wyclif's teachings as to the Lord's Supper, the council really had slender grounds for his execution. His extensive travels, his wide erudition, his eloquence, his wit, made him a formidable critic of the degenerate church of his day, and it was for his criticisms rather than for heresy that his death was compassed.

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