Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe: Documents in Translation

By Edward Peters | Go to book overview

during each hearing by many city guards armed with swords, crossbows, axes, and spears. In the meantime the king arrived and brought with him Lords Wenceslas and John along with Peter the bachelor. At this hearing were read the articles about which at Prague witnesses had testified before the vicar of the archbishop of Prague and also in Constance, to some of which he responded separately. Among them, when the said lords and Peter arrived, this article was in effect being ascribed to him.

It is also stated that the above-named Master John Hus in the month of June of the year of the Lord 1410, as well as before and after, preaching to the people congregated in a certain chapel of Bethlehem and in various other places of the city of Prague, at various times contrived, taught, and disputed about many errors and heresies both from the books of the late John Wyclif and from his own impudence and craftiness, defending them as far as he was able. Above all, he held the error hereafter stated, that after the consecration the host on the altar remains material bread. To that charge they produced as witnesses doctors, prelates, pastors, etc., as it is stated in the said testimony.

Then he, calling God and his conscience to witness, replied that he had not said or stated it; in reality, when the archbishop of Prague had commanded that the term "bread" be not even mentioned, he [ Hus] rose to oppose it on the ground that even Christ in the sixth chapter of John eleven times called Himself "the angelic bread" and "giving life to the world," and "descending from heaven," and was so called by others. Therefore, he [ Hus] did not want to contradict that gospel. He replied, moreover, that he had never spoken concerning the material bread. Then the cardinal of Cambrai, taking a paper that, he said, had come into his hands late the evening before, and holding it in his hand, questioned Master John if he regarded universals as real apart from the thing itself. And he responded that he did, since both St. Anselm and others had so regarded them. Thereupon the cardinal argued, "It follows that after the consecration there remains the substance of the material bread." And he advanced proof of it as follows: that in the act of consecration, while the bread is being changed and transubstantiated into the body of Christ -- as you have already said -- either there did or did not remain the most common substance of the material bread. If it did, the proposition was proved; if not, it follows that with the cessation of the particular there also ceased the universal substance of itself. He [Hus] replied that it ceased to exist in the substance of that particular material bread when it was changed or passed into the body of Christ, or was transubstantiated; but despite that, in other particu-

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