Edmund Alexander De Schweinitz.

The history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr online

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it out at Heidelberg. Along with it appeared a brief History
by Riidinger, written in 1579, entitled: De Fratrum
Orthodoxorum in Bohemia et lloravia EcclesioUs Narrati-
uncula}^ Of the origin and progress of the Unity in Poland,
George Israel wrote a short account.

The above are only a few of the works which were issued
in the period under review ; a number have been omitted, and
the majority were lost amidst the storms of the Anti-Reforma-
tion. As in all former times of their history the Brethren
still diligently used the press to the glory of God. In
addition to their four presses in Bohemia and Moravia, they
had a fifth at Szamotuli in Poland. This press was subse-
quently removed to Lissa. Hymnals Avere issued in the
highest style of art. The arabesques with which they were
ornamented were particularly beautiful; in some instances
such works were printed on the finest parchment. Claudia-
uus, proved to be an adept in bringing out publications of
this kind. About 1580 the offices for baptisms, and marriages,
for the burial of the dead, and for other occasions of worship,
were published for the use of the priests. Such offices were
not given into the hands of the people.

Education was greatly developed. In 1575 about forty
students were studying for the ministry at foreign universities,
besides many young nobles of the Church. The number of
its schools in Bohemia and jNIoravia had increased. While
the course of instruction was thorough and systematized, and
probably reached beyond the elements of Latin, we know
nothing further with regard to it. In 1574 a College was
founded at Eibenschiitz, for young noblemen, by Barons
John von Zerotin, Znata von Lonenic, and Frederick von
Nachod. Its first Rector was Esrom Riidinger. In con-
sequence of the Ciypto-Calvinistic catastrophe which over-
whelmed the University of AYittenberg in 1574, he was
imprisoned and then banished. The Brethren received him
with open arms. One of the first Professors of the ncAv

'^ Camerarius, p. 145, etc.


College was John Aeneas. It was supported by a grant which
seventeen nobles pledged themselves annually to make. This
college prospered. Among its students were young men from
Germany and Catholics from Moravia.

Not less was the care bestowed by the Brethren upon their
schools in Poland. Acolytes were educated in the Parsonages,
as in Bohemia and Moravia, Lorenz and Turnovius being
particularly zealous in furthering this mode of instruction ;
elementary schools existed at Barcin, Lobsenia, Ostrorog,
Posen, and Wieruszew; and schools of a higher grade at
Kozminek and at Lissa.^^

1* Eegenvolscius, pp. 117 and 118; Lukaszewic, (Polish ed.), p. 388, etc.







A. D. 1580-1620.


The Unitas Frairum in Bohemia and Moravia.
A. D. 1580-1590.

The Jesuits. — Sturm preaches and writes against the Brethren. — Kirmezer
and Hedericus. — Persecutions. — The Bishop of Olmiitz and Eiidinger.
— Theological Seminaries. — Death of Bishops Lorenz and Israel. —
New Bishops. — Jungbunzlau passes out of the Hands of the Krajek
Family. — Changes in the Manner of Living among the Clergy.

With the progress of Protestantism the influence of the
Jesuits kept even pace. Protestantism was preparing for a
general victory throughout Bohemia and Moravia ; the Jesuits
were scheming to change this triumph into a defeat. During
the first part of his reign, Rudolph was like wax in their
hands. Whenever it suited their purpose they moulded him
as they pleased ; at other times they did not deem it worth
their while to seek his support.^ Their order numbered forty
members, among them several Bohemians educated at Rome,

' Subsequent to 1600 Rudolph entertained a positive dislike to the clergy,
including the Jesuits. This was owing to his mental weakness which, at.
that time, began to show itself. Gindely's Rudolf II., I. p. 42.


at Ferdinand's expense. But wlietlier they were natives or
foreigners, they all burned with equal zeal to restore the
supremacy of the Catholic Church. In endeavoring to reach
this end they employed the same means as in Poland. They
established schools which soon won a high repute. They
undertook missionary tours, preaching and disputing on doc-
trinal points in towns and villages, in churches, in market-
places, in private houses, and wherever else they gained a hear-
ing. They strained every nerve to turn the powerful hands
of the nobles against Protestantism, and in this effort were
supported by the Spanish wives w^hom several of the Barons
had married.

Weuzel Sturm and HostoAvin distinguished themselves.
The former was appointed by the Archbishop to undertake a
mission against tlie Brethren. Sturm prej)ared for it by
critically studying their writings. Rejecting as absurd the
charges of moral depravity, he made dogmatical points the
base from which to begin an attack. The Brethren, he as-
serted, had repeatedly changed their doctrinal syctem. It was
unstable. This he offered to prove in public disputations.
He traveled through the country, making known the result
of his studies and repeating his challenge. It Avas not ac-
cepted. Foiled in this effort, he published a number of
polemical works, criticising the faith, ministry, and claims of
the Unity as an apostolic church. The most important of these
writings was his " Comparison of the doctrinal Teachings of
the Brethren" (1582).

About the same time two Protestant controversialists, both
in Moravia, entered the field. The one was Paul Kirmezer,
Dean at Ungarisch-Brod, an independent Lutheran, ignorant,
unstable and perfidious. In that town the Unity had a flour-
ishing parish of which he tried to gain the control. Failing
in this attempt he issued a scurrilous work, incited Baron von
Kunowic, the owner of the domain, against the Brethren, de-
nounced their parsonage as a common brothel and had it
searched. Bishop Aeneas indignantly repelled such charges ;
Zerotin and other Moravian nobles opened the eyes of Kuno-


wic to the true character of Kirmezer. He was dismissed
from Uugarisch-Brod. In deep abasement he came to the
Brethren and begged them to have mercy on him. They re-
ceived and supported him to the day of his death.^

The other opponent was Doctor Hedericus, or Heidenreich,
pastor of the Lutheran Church at Iglau and a zealous advo-
cate of ubiquitism. He published a work at Frankfort-ou-
the-Oder, attacking the doctrines of the Unity (1580). The
offers of several Lutheran divines — opponents of ubiquitism
— to write a reply, were declined by the Bishops. They them-
selves took no notice of this assault until eleven years later,
when Turnovius was appointed by the Synod to publish a
refutation (1591) f but they complained to the Moravian
Diet of the various publications that had been recently issued
against their Church. The Diet found these complaints to be
just and resolved that all writers of libels should thereafter oe
dealt with strictly according to law.^

But more formidable attacks than those of the pen were
undertaken against the Brethren. In 1582, mstigated by the
Jesuits, Baron Pernsteiu, on whose estates about one-third of
their number Avas domiciliated, began a persecution. At Pot-
tenstein, Kostelec and other places their chapels were closed ;
at Landskrou their parsonage was laid even with the ground ;
in many instances they were driven with clubs to Catholic
churches, and while servants held them and forced them to
open their mouths, the priests thrust in the consecrated wafer.^
The spiritual oversight of his Moravian domains Pernsteiu
committed to the Bishop of Olmiitz, who was not slow to ex-

■■* Croeger, II. p. 170.

^ The work of Hedericus bore the following title : D. Johannis Hederici
Examinationem capitum doctrinse fratruru, etc., quibus ab ecclesia Augus-
tanse Confessionis publice privatimque dissentire eos, demonstratnr. In
1585 it was translated into German by John Lsetus ; in 1742 a new German
version was added by Carpzov to his Religions-Untersuchung d. Bohmisch
und Miihrischen Briider, published at Leipzig, a polemical work against the
Unitas Fratrum, both the Ancient and the Renewed.

* Gindely, 11. p. 271.

^ L. F., XIII. p. 261. R.'s Z., p. 432.


ercise the power wliicli lie thus received, even after the Baron's
death, which occurred in the same year.

In other respects, too, this Bisliop, unmindful of the humilia-
tion he had, on former occasions, endured at the hands of
Moravian nobles, gave evidence of his zeal as a persecutor.
He secured an order for the arrest of Riidinger. Although
Baron von Lippe, the owner of Eibenschiitz, Avho had disre-
garded an imperial mandate, issued in 1578, to close the Col-
lege at that place, refused to allow this ncAV order to be
executed, Riidiuger became uneasy, left his post and accepted
an asylum on a domain of Frederick von Zerotin. Riidinger
never returned to Eibenschiitz. His health was failing and,
after a time, he retired to Nuremberg, where he died in 1590.
The persecution on the Pernstein estates gradually came to an

In 1584 Rudolph, yielding to the persuasions of Rosen Ijerg
and the Jesuits, renewed the Edict of St. James, and thus at-
tempted a general persecution. But it failed. The edict was
everywhere disregarded. The Brethren manifested no alarm
and continued to develop their Church. At a meeting of the
Synod, held in the same year at Jungbunzlau, it was resolved
to found three Theological Seminaries — one in that town,
another at Prerau, and a third at Eibenschiitz.'^ Of the char-
acter of these institutions we know nothing. They probably
Avere merely a higher grade of the schools conducted in the

On the Day of John the Baptist (June the twenty-fourth),
in 1587, Bishop Lorenz died at Ostrorog, aged sixty-eight
years. In perfect peace, bidding farcAvell to each member of
his family, and calling upon the name of the Lord, he Avent to
his rcAvard. " Through his labors God accomplished great
things in Poland."^ In the same year the Synod met at
Leipnik and elected John Abdias and Simon Theophilus Turn-

* Kegenvolscins, p. 65; Croeger, II. pj). 161 and 162.
' Todtenbucli, p. 78. Lorenz married in his old age. He was probably
the first Bisliop that took this step.


oviiis to the episcopacy.* -They were consecrated by Kalef,
Zacharias and Aeneas. Israel, who had retired from active
work and who was known and greatly honored as " The Sire,"
probably took part in this consecration. Of the new Bishops
Turnovius continued to labor in Poland, Avhile Abdias was as-
signed to the Moravian Province. He was a godly, kind-
hearted and zealous servant of the Church, But the Lord had
need of him and called him from the work of his episcopate
when it had continued for scarcely a year. He died at Prerau,
on the twenty-fourth of June, 1588. A few weeks later, on
the fifteenth of July, the venerable George Israel, in a full age
of eighty years, was gathered to his fathers. George Vetter
preached a memorial sermon, which moved the congregation to
tears. His text was : " The righteous perisheth, and no man
layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none
considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to
come. He shall enter into peace ; they shall rest in their beds,
each one walking in his uprightness." (Isaiah 57 : 1 and 2.)
In conclusion he spoke, in substance, as follows :

Amidst all the circumstances of his long life the deceased
Bishop was eminent " because of his sound judgment, his wonder-
ful memory, his extraordinary piety and zeal. Passing by many
other points, I sum up his character and work by saying, that he
was a most distinguished instance of divine grace and a most
illustrious instrument in the hands of God. Oh how we all re-
joiced whenever we were permitted to behold his hoary head, to
listen to his earnest words, to make them the basis of our deliber-
ations, to watch him in his daily life, which was so gentle and
fatherly, to enjoy his fellowship ! Alas the all-wise God has
taken back this rare gift, which He granted us for a season !
Where shall we find another father like unto him? Certainly not
in the communion of Antichrist ! " "

Bishop Kalef was now appointed President of the Council.
In consecpience of the death of Baron Adam von Krajek (Mav
the seventeenth, 1588), and the intrigues by which his domain

8 Jaffet's S. G., I. p. 22, etc. E.'s Z., 436.

^ That is, the Eoinish Qiurch. Todtenbuch, p. 80-82, which work gives
the Latin epitaph engraven on Israel's tombstone.


of Jungbunzlau was alienated, Kalef removed to Brandeis on
the Adler, taking the archives with him/"

There he died on Monday after the third Sunday in Ad-
vent, 1588. In the next year, in the week following the first
Sunday after Trinity, John Ephraim and Paul Jessen were
elected to the episcopacy at Leipnik, and consecrated by
Zacharias, Aeneas and Turnovius. Zacharias was appointed
President of the Council. ^^

A marked change was going on among the ministers of the
Unity. Although many of them still supported themselves,
in part, by the labor of their hands, there were few, especially
in Moravia, who did not, at the same time, enjoy an income
from a fund, or from the gardens, vineyards and fields belong-
ing to their parishes. Moreover, they were now commonly
married. Even the Bishops began to take unto themselves
wives. Subsequent to the first decade of the seventeenth cen-
tury, celibacy was given up entirely. Those of the parsonages
which were conducted on the old style, had been improved and
enlarged, and were furnished with every convenience necessary
to the comfort of the household. The servants, both male and
female, were under the control of the Council.

In every parish there was a fund, called Korhona, from
which the poor and the sick received aid. This fund was
maintained through the free-will offerings of the people, and
with it were paid also the contributions toward the support of
the priest.^^

^^ Krajek left no children. His heirs were his widow and two sisters.
George Popel von Lobkowitz, under whose protection the widow put her-
self, succeeded in getting possession of the estate ; subsequently he exchanged
it for another and it passed into the hands of Bohuslaw Hassenstein von

" JafFet's S. G., I. p. 22, etc. and II. p. 38, etc. R.'s Z. pp. 435 and 436.

^^ Gindely's Comenius, p. 532.



Progress of the Unity and the Kralitz Bible.
A. D. 1591-1593.

The Utraquists, Catholics and Reformed. — Bohemia in a State of Confusion.
— Activity of the Brethren's Church. — Synods. — Meetings of the Aco-
lytes, Deacons and Priests. — Peter Wok von Eosenberg. — The Kralitz
Bible. — Its three Editions. — Extracts from the first Edition. — Opinions
of Scholars. — Reprints.

While the Unitas Fratriim continued to prosper and the
changes, of which we have spoken in the last chapter, helped
to develop its inner growth, the Lutherans were still in an un-
settled state and the Utraquists dwindling to a bare remnant.
The few cities which acknowledged the Consistory, did nothing
to uphold its authority ; the priests which it appointed, were
ridiculed and hindered in the discharge of their functions ;
the Administrator was a worthless character ; the University
was alienated and had practically become a Protestant seat ;
and the inferior schools were following in its footsteps. That
National Church which Rokycana had so proudly organized,
lay in its last gasps. At the same time the Roman Catholic
reaction went boldly on, through the efforts of the Jesuits ;
and the Reformed began to gain footholds. In the last years
of the sixteenth century they spread rapidly, exercising no
little influence in the religious development of the kingdom.
In other respects its state was deplorable. The increasing
lethargy of Rudolph produced confusion which often bordered
on anarchy.


Such circumstances brought out the activity of the Breth-
ren's Church in bold relief. This Church labored with un-
abated vigor. Numerous Synods were held. On one of these
occasions, at Leipnik, July the eighth, 1591, special meetings
of the acolytes were appointed for the following year.^ Those
in Bohemia were to assemble at Jungbunzlau, those in Mora-
via at Zerawic ; both on Tuesday following the Sunday called
Jubilate, or the Third Sunday after Easter, when a Bishop
would deliver to them a charge on the duties of the priesthood.
The meeting at Zerawic was conducted by Bishop Aeneas
(April the twenty-first, 1592). There were present ninety-
nine acolytes, with whom had come twenty-seven deacons.
In his charge he w^arued them — so says Gindely — against
witchcraft, astrology, jurisprudence and medicine.^

On the twelfth of July, of the same year, another Synod
convened at Leipnik. Bohuslaw von Lobkowitz, the new
owaier of Jungbunzlau, asked, whether a murderer, if a mem-
ber of the Unity, might be accompanied by a priest to the
place of execution ? The decision of the Synod was as fol-
lows : " It is not proper to comfort him whom God does not
comfort, or to grant the service of love to one to whom it is
not granted by God." ^ At the instance of Daniel Strasnicky
permission was given for the purchase, at Prerau, of a house
which was to be converted, according to the example of other

^ Dekrete d. B. U., p. 243, cited by Czerwenka.

2 Gindely, II. p. 326, cites a MS. from Lissa in the Boh. Museum at
Prague. This MS., as appears from Czerwenka, is the original of the De-
krete d. B. U., since published by Gindely ; and yet in the published work
there is found no report of the meeting at Zerawic. It is therefore not clear
from what source he derives his information ; and it is, in the highest de-
gree, improbable that Bishop Aeneas, whatever his opinion of the study
and practice of law may have been, warned the acolytes against the science
of medicine.

^ Dekrete d. B. U., p. 249, etc., cited by Czerwenka, who correctly remarks,
that the service of a priest, on the occasion referred to, was therefore made
to depend upon the state of mind of the criminal. If he repented he might
be accompanied by a priest ; not otherwise. Gindely incorrectly interprets
the decision as referring to every case, whether the criminal was penitent
or not.


parishes, into a hospital. Au ordination of thirty-three priests
took place ; and John Popel/ Zacharias Aristou, John Albin
and Jacob Alpheus were elected to the Executive Council.
Immediately after the Synod, on the sixteenth of July, a
special meeting for the instruction of the priests and deacons
took place at Leipnik.

About this time there died at Prague Baron A^^illiam von
Rosenberg, a trusted councilor of the Emperor, an ardent sup-
porter of the Jesuits, the most influential and richest Catholic
noble of the realm. He left no children and his vast domains
passed into the hands of his brother, Baron Peter Wok von
Rosenberg. This nobleman was a member of the Unity.
What a blow to the Romanist cause ! What a gain for the
Brethren and the faith which they represented ! ^

The year 1593 saw the completion of the Kralitz Bible.
This was the greatest literary work undertaken by the Unitas
Fratrum and constitutes its grandest monument.

There existed a number of earlier Bohemian versions, but
they had all been translated from the Vulgate. The Brethren
determined to give the Czechs a Bible rendered from the
original. Blahoslaw, of whose New Testament we have
spoken, set the project on foot. The most thorough prepara-
tions took place : in particular were several young men sent to
the Universities of Wittenberg and Basel in order to fit them-
selves for the difficult task of translating. When they had
completed their studies a Commission was appointed to under-
take the work.^ This Commission consisted of Bishop John

* Popel was an exemplary servant of God, ordained to the priesthood at
Austerlitz, in 1581. He died at Horazdowic on Friday previous to the
twentieth Sunday after Trinity, 1599, and was buried in the convent where
the remains of many other priests of the Unity were resting. Tliis convent
was the property of the Brethren. Todtenbuch, p. 92.

* Wok von Eosenberg joined the Brethren in 1582, through the influence
of Henry Schwarz, who became his chaplain. Chlumecky's Zerotin, p. 148.

® Our account of tlie Kralitz Bible is based upon Eisner's rare but in-
valuable treatise entitled, " Vei-such einer Bohmischen Bibel-Geschichte,"
Halle, 1765; Malin's "The Boliemian Bible," in the Appendix to the
Catalogue of his library ; and a personal examination of the copies of tlie
Kralitz Bible in this librai-v.


Aeneas, the chairman ; of George Streic, or Vetter, Isaiah
Cepolla, John Ephraim, Paul Jessen, John Capito/ members
of the Council ; and of Albert Nicholas, a Silesian, and Luke
Helic, the son of a baptized Jew, distinguished Hebrew
scholars. The vacancies created through the death of Cepolla
and Capito, were filled by John Nemczansky and Zacharias
Ariston. Near Willimowitz, in Moravia, stood a castle known
as Kralitz, the property of John von Zerotin. In that castle
the Commission met and the work was printed ; hence the
name by which it is commonly known. Zacharias Soliu, a
priest of the Unity, had charge of the press ;^ Zerotin assumed
the entire cost of the undertaking.

For fourteen years the Commission labored with indefatiga-
ble diligence. The work was published in six Parts. The
first, which contained the Five Books of Moses, appeared in
1579; the second, comprising the Books from Joshua to
Esther, in 1580; the third, embracing the Poetical Books, in
1582; the fourth, consisting of the Prophetical Books, in
1587; the fifth, composed of the Apocrypha, in 1588; and
the sixth, being Blahoslaw's New Testament, in 1593.®

We will proceed to describe each of these volumes.

Voi.UME I. — Biblj Ceske Djk pricnj, totiz Patery Knihy
Mogzjssowy, w nowe wyclane MDLXXIX.

" The First Part of the Bohemian Bible, that is, the Five Books
of Moses, published anew 1579."

This title is printed partly in red and partly in black letters
and surrounded by an arabesque border, with an Agnus Dei

'' John Capito was born at Bystric, near Pernstein ; a learned man ; died
at Trebitz, on tlie last Sunday of the year 1589. Todtenbuch, pp. 84 and 92.

* Solin was as faithful in the discharge of his ministerial duties as he was
skillful in superintending a printing-office. He brought out beautiful copies
of the Bible, printed on vellum, and corresponding in style to the vellum
Hymnals. In 1581 he was ordained to the priesthood and died at Kralitz,
on the eighth of March, 1595. Todtenbuch, p. 89.

' Why both Gindely and Czerwenka assert that the fifth and sixth Parts
were published simultaneously in 1593, we do not know. Eisner, who wrote
with a copy of the Kralitz Bible before him, says the fifth Part was pub-
lished in 1588 ; and this is substantiated by the title of that Part transcribed
for us fi'om the copy in the Herrnhut Archives.


at the top.'" Ou the reverse side of the page are given the
following passages of Scripture :

" When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord Thy God
in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this law before
all Israel in their hearing." (Deut. 31 : 11.)

" This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth ; but
thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest ob-
serve to do according to all that is written therein : for then thou
shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good
success. Only be strong and very courageous, that thou mayest
observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant
commanded thee : turn not from it to thy right hand or to the
left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua
1 : 8, 7.)

"Abraham said unto him. They have Moses and the prophets;
let them hear them." ( Luke 16 : 29.)

"And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets. He expounded
unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."
(Luke 24: 27.)

" For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me : for
he wrote of me." (John 5 : 46.)

Online LibraryEdmund Alexander De SchweinitzThe history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr → online text (page 38 of 64)