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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he looked around for the messenger of mercy ; and on seeing
a young man approach, turned to him with great eagerness,
but found that he merely wished to assist him in removing
his cloak. For a little while Gisbitsky was overwhelmed ;
but regaining his composure, he asked for a Hymnal, fell on
his knees, and sang with a strong voice four stanzas of a hymn
expressive of his trust in Christ, Then rising he took off
his doublet, kneeled down again, and with a fervent prayer
offered his neck to the sword.

The last to suffer were Henry Kozel, Andrew Kozour,
George Recicky, Michael Wittman, Simon Wokac, Leander
Riippel, and George Hauenschild. They were attended to
the scaffold by Adam Clemens, but the records give no
details. The right hands of Riippel and Hauenschild were
cut off after they had been beheaded.

From five until ten o'clock did this spectacle continue.
One and the same executioner, himself a Protestant who
showed as much consideration as possible, performed the
bloody work, hanging with his own hands three of the
victims and decapitating the remaining twenty-four. With
the first of his swords he beheaded eleven ; with the second,
five ; and with the two others, eight. ^^ The bodies of those
beheaded, excepting Jessen's, were delivered to their families
and buried the same day, without religious ceremonies but

28 2 Tim. 2:12.

2* One of these swords is preserved in the Bohemian Museum at Prague.
The names of those that were executed with it, among them Budowa's, are
engraved on the blade. Mydlar seems to have been the name of the
executioner. His fees for the Day of Blood amounted to 634 Thaler,
equivalent to about $444.


amidst the lamentations of the widow and the fatherless ; the
corpses of the hanged were secretly interred in the night. On
the ancient Watch Tower, at the end of the Carlshrucke next
to the Altstadt, twelve heads were set up in small iron cages,
six on one side and six on the other. To the same Tower
were fastened the hands of Schlick and Michalowitz, as also
the tongue of Jessen. Riippel's head and hand were nailed
to the Council House.

Among the condemned was Martin Fruwein, a member of
the Brethren's Unity and a celebrated advocate of Prague.
After the battle of the White Mountain soldiers burst into
his house, and subjected him to such frightful tortures that,
for nearly six months, he suffered intense pain. During the
interregnum he had been a Director, and was arrested along
with the rest, but confined alone in the White Tower. On
the sixth of June his dead body was found in the moat below.
The Catholics asserted that he had committed suicide; the
History of Persecutions pronounces this improbable, but adds,
" God knows ! " If he did commit suicide, it must have
been in a fit of temporary insanity brought on by sufferings
that might well craze the strongest mind. His body was
taken to the White Mountain, and there beheaded, then
quartered. The bowels were buried; the other portions
fastened to four posts ; the head was nailed to the gallows in
the Ross Market.

On the day following the execution, June the twenty-
second, the tongue of Nicholas Dionysius, the clerk of the
council of the Altstadt, was fastened with an awl to the
gallows and in this painful posture he was forced to stand for
two hours. When released, he was led back to prison, where
he spent four years, and finally banished. His offence con-
sisted in welcoming Frederick to Prague in a short speech.
While he was pinned to the gallows, Joseph Kubin, John
Swehla and Wenzel Boczek, were publicly whipped, three
times, at three different points of the city, and then banished
forever. They left Prague singing the one hundred and
twelfth and the seventieth Psalms.


Those whose sentence had been commuted to perpetual
imprisonment languished, for a year, in the capital and were
then conveyed to the Castle of Zbirow, among them William
von Lobkowitz and Paul von Rican. Doctor Borbonius, a
distinguished physician, was pardoned through the agency of
Liechtenstein and resumed his practice at Prague, but was
subsequently banished because he refused to embrace the
Catholic religion.

On the twenty-eighth of June the property of all the con-
demned, including such as had escaped, was confiscated. The
registered value of this property amounted to more than five
millions of Thaler; equivalent at present, says Gindely, to
between thirty and thirty-five millions.

The executions at Prague and the sweeping confiscation by
which they were followed, excited the utmost bitterness
among the Protestants of Bohemia and filled them with
consternation. These high-handed measures were signs of
fearful things to come. In foreign lands the Bohemian
fugitives, among whom was Count Thurn, were horror-struck.
The Catholics rejoiced and mockingly said that the Directors
had ceased directing.

That the illustrious leaders, to the memory of whose last
days this chapter brings a tribute, were justified according to
the inalienable rights of man, in inaugurating the Bohemian
Revolution, we deem to be an incontrovertible position and
repudiate every other.^" They tried to establish the religious
liberties of a Protestant nation in opposition to the rule of a
Romish tyrant. This was not only lawful under their own
Charter, but also became their duty as its appointed De-
fenders. That they, at last, shook off the Hapsburg yoke was
the fault of the outrageous character of the Hapsburg govern-
ment. The grievances which brought about the American
Revolution were as nothing in comparison with those that

=*" Bishop Cregor says, II. p. 296 : " Sie haben in der Liebe fur die
Freiheit ihres Vaterlandes und ilirer Gewissen sich hinreissen lassen, gegen
das Gebot und Beispiel unsers Heilandes, zu welt lichen Waffen zu grelfen,
und dafur haben sie durch Gottes gerechtes Gericht den Tod erlitten !"


Bohemia complained of; and if its Revolution had been suc-
cessful, Budowa and Schlick and Jessen would rank in history
by the side of Washington and Jefferson and Adams, and the
whole body of our own cherished heroes.

There is, however, another aspect of the case. What
though the Bohemian leaders failed and perished — their
testimony to Christian patriotism and Evangelical religion
and personal faith is immortal ! While the world stands it
can not die. It rings through the ages. The annals of states
and the records of the Church show few events which more
wonderfully establish the promises of God and more abund-
antly glorify His power, than the Day of Blood at Prague.



The Anti-Reformation in Bohemia and Moravia.
A. D. 1621-1628.

Ferdinand and the Anti-Eeformation. — Its fundamental Principle. — The
Means employed. — Churches seized. — Burial Grounds desecrated. —
Clergymen banished. — Sufferings of the Clergy. — Expelled by a Com-
mission. — Schools and the University reconstructed. — Destruction of
Protestant Literature — Anthony Koniasch. — Sweeping confiscations. —
New Edicts against the Protestants. — Depreciation of the Currency. —
A Eeform Commission. — The Jesuits and Liechtenstein's Troops. —
The Peasants and their Sufferings. — Edict against the Protestant
States. — The Diet of 1627. — A new Reform Commission.— Exodus of
1628. — Decline of Bohemia and Moravia.

The tragedy at Prague introduced one of the most tyran-
nical, wicked and unjustifiable measures known to history.
Upon the neck of a Protestant nation was relentlessly forced
the iron yoke of Rome. Not by an alien power, not amidst
the wild turmoil of a victorious army sweeping like a tornado
over Bohemia and Moravia; but by their own sovereign,
slowly and systematically, with an intolerance hard as a rock
and a premeditation that deserves to be called satanic. The
impoverishment of the country, the sufferings of his subjects,
the depletion of the population to a bare remnant, the down-
fall of industrial prosperity, the blight upon literature, the
ruin in every other respect of an entire kingdom and its
affiliated margraviate; — all these evils weighed as nothing
over against the satisfaction of crushing out the Evangelical
faith and elevating Romanism to supremacy. Not in vain


liad Ferdinand the Second sworn his secret oath at Prague.
The opportunity M^as now come for doing even more than
that shameful and treacherous pledge implied. We have no
sympathy with his apologists, whether Protestant or Catholic.^
While it is true that he was but following out to its legitimate
end the tendency given him by his education ; while he may
have imagined that to overthrow the Protestant religion was
doing God a service ; and while it is certain that he was the
mere agent of schemes laid by others ; such considerations do
not justify his course. A monarch intrusted with the sceptres
which Ferdinand swayed and living in the age to which he
belonged, was bound to recognize the signs of the times and
accept Protestantism as a legitimate element of Christendom.
The darkness and bigotry and narrow conceptions of the
jMiddle Ages had passed away. But he willfully shut his
eyes to the light that was shining and obstinately closed his
ears to the voices which were bidding the world to go
forward. Nor were these the worst features of his course.
Ferdinand stands at the bar of history condemned as a
deliberate perjurer. Amidst the solemnities of his coronation,
in the house of the God whom he professed to serve, he swore
that he would uphold the Bohemian charter and maintain
inviolate the religious liberty of his subjects. It is from the
point of view offered by this oath that the only correct opinion
in relation to the overthrow of Protestantism in Bohemia and
Moravia can be formed.

According to the History of Persecutions it was at Rome
that a plan was laid to coerce these two countries under the

^ "Wir haben gewiss Grund zu glauben, dass Kaiser Ferdinand iiber-
zeugt war, dass er als ein treuer Katholischer Christ gegen seine anders-
denkenden Unterthanen so handeln miisse, urn der Wohlfahrt seines

Reiches und um der Irrenden selbst willen Auch mussen wir nicht

ausser Acht lassen, in welchem abschreckenden Vorstellungen von den
Andersglaubigen Ferdinand befangen sein, und wie seine strengen Befehle
durch seine Diener und Werkzeuge noch weit iiberboten werden mochten."
Thus says Bishop Croeger, II. pp. 303 and 3C4. Pesclieck entertains
similar views, II. jj. 1, etc.


sway of the Catholic Church. Opportunities to become martyrs
were not to be given the followers of the Evangelical faith ;
they were to be persecuted in other ways until their courage
would be broken and their endurance exhausted; obedience
to the Catholic Church would follow as a necessary result.
Whether Rome was the birthplace of this scheme, or whether
it was concocted elsewhere, remains uncertain; that it sets
forth the principle according to which the work was actually
carried on, our narrative will show. Not fire and sword and
the rack were introduced, but a Reformation, and therefore,
in the Protestant sense, au Anti-Reformation.'^

The following were the chief means employed : the Prot-
estants were deprived of their church-edifices; Protestant
clergymen were everywhere driven from their parishes;
Protestant literature was as far as possible destroyed; a
wholesale confiscation of property took place ; the currency
was depreciated ; Commissions were sent through the country
in order to bring the people into the Roman Catholic Church ;
all those who refused to deny Protestantism were banished.^

2 In 1622 the Congregatio De Propaganda Fide was established at Eome,
in order to promote missions among the heathen and the conversion of
heretics in Christian countries. It is very likely that the Anti-Eeformation
received aid from this powerful agency.

'^ Authorities for this chapter are : First and foremost, Hist. Persecu-
tionum. Cap. XLIV-LVIII, and LXXXV to the end of the work. This
authority says: "Ifall the cunning deceptions and the gross acts of wick-
edness, all the bloodthirsty oppressions and persecutions, that were put into
practice were to be narrated, it would require a sharper wit than the dove-
like simplicity of our nation is capable of, and more voluminous books
would have to be written than our present undertaking will permit. For
that which the Evangelist says, 'There are also many other things which
Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that
even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written '
(John 21 : 25)— can be said also of Antichrist, whose evil deeds have been
developed with so much craft and malice that the world can scarcely con-
tain them. This, however, we testify before God, that we have secured
the most accurate information with regard to everything which we report,
even though we have not always adduced examples, partly in order to be
brief and partly because amidst the still existing dispersion instances could
not in every case be collected." The next authority is Pescheck's entire


Ferdinand's principal advisers in carrying out these details
were Archbishop Lohelius and his clergy at Prague ; Carlo
Caraffa, Bishop of Aversa, the Papal Nuncio at Vienna, who
ceased not to urge the Emperor forward in everything that
was intolerant, base and cruel ; and especially the Jesuits
upon whom, in the last instance, rests the entire responsibility
of the Bohemian Anti-R-eformation.

It began, as we have said, with the seizure of the Protestant
church-edifices. There were hundreds of them; but upon
every one was laid, in the course of a few years, the rapacious
hand of Rome. Such buildings were either razed to the
ground or thoroughly cleansed from wdiat was deemed to be
their heretical contaminations, and rededicated with imposing
ceremonies. Both the exterior and interior were purified;
the former by removing images of the cup,^ effacing inscrip-
tions, destroying monuments, and altering even the door-
knobs and flag-stones ; the latter by sprinkling holy water,
lashing the pulpits with whips, and beating the altars with
sticks. Romish symbols, inscriptions, and images, took the
place of those that had been destroyed.

On the twentieth of February, 1621, the Cathedral was
rededicated, at a heavy cost which the Emperor assumed ; on
the twenty third of January, 1623, the colossal gilded cup
adorning the Tliein church was taken down and the image ot
the Virgin substituted. The new and splendid church of St.
Salvador, erected in the Altsiadt, on the strength of the privi-
leges granted by the charter, was given, together with its adjoin-
ing school, to the Pauline monks. The cup on the gate
leading to the Church of St. Anthony, at Koniggriitz, was

second volume. He had a number of original sources at command, par-
ticularly Holyk's Pabstische Geissel, published at Wittenberg in 1673 and
written by an eye-witness, himself at one time a Romish monk who was
subsequently converted to Protestantism. Our last authority is of Roman
Catholic origin — Gindely's 30-jahr. Krieg, IV, Chap. 9.

* Images of the cup, made of metal or stone, the symbol of Utraquisni,
were found on nearly all churches, steeples and city-gates. One such
cup on the top of a tower at Leitmeritz escaped, and remains to the present


torn down and a picture substituted, representing an over-
turned chalice from which flowed an impure matter and
having this inscription : " In the hand of the Lord there is
a cup, and the wine is red ; it is full of mixture, and He
poureth out of the same ; but the dregs thereof, all the wicked
of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them." (Ps.
75 : 8.) On the wall over the door appeared another inscrip-
tion as follows : " My house is a house of prayer, but not
thine, thou detested Calvin." These are but a few instances
of the wanton bigotry which went rioting through the sanc-
tuaries of God.

Nor did the church-yards escape. Memorials were ruth-
lessly broken ; graves sacrilegiously opened ; the bones of the
dead shamefully dishonored. Among the tombs thus defiled
were those of Zizka, at Czaslau, and of Rokycana, in the
Theiu church, at Prague.

The expulsion of the Protestant clergy formed the next
device. It was inaugurated at Prague. The Protestant
Consistory was broken up, and on the tenth of March, 1621,
the Calvinist ministers, as well as those of the Unity, were
banished. Out of regard for the Elector of Saxony the
Lutherans received permission to remain.

Against this CarafFa vehemently protested, until Liechten-
stein made known the conditions upon which their further
stay would depend. They must advance to the Emperor a
large sum of money, several thousand florins ; acknowledge
the coronation of Frederick as illegal ; be reordained by the
Archbishop; cease administering the sacrament under both
kinds ; repudiate their wives and look upon them merely as
their cooks. These degrading conditions were rejected. The
result was a decree, which appeared on the thirteenth of
December, 1621, commanding the Lutheran clergy, except
the four who had charge of German churches, to leave
Prague in three days and Bohemia in eight. Nineteen of
them, among whom was Rosacius, went into exile. Caraffa
and the Jesuits were not yet satisfied. The German ministers
who remained were an offence to them. They did not rest


until these, too, were dismissed, and along with them the
German school-teachers who held to the Evangelical faith.
The indignant remonstrances of the Elector of Saxony, who
now began to realize into what an unfortunate position his
alliance with the Emperor had placed him, were of no avail.
On the twenty-ninth of October, 1622, escorted by a great
multitude of their parishioners, the last representatives of the
pure Gospel turned their backs upon the Bohemian capital.
Several miles beyond its walls they held a service in the open
fields, Lippach delivering a farewell address.

Throughout the country the clergy made experiences that
were far worse.

Soon after the battle of the White Mountain many of them
suffered, at the hands of the Catholic soldiery, horrible cruel-
ties or a violent death. Paul Moller, of Zrutsch, was pierced
by a bullet while preaching, and exjjired in his own pulpit;
Martin Maresch was tortured, and his two daughters were
carried oif to a life of enforced shame and misery ; Wenzel
Jakesch, of Kaunitz, after having been subjected, for an
entire month, to scandalous indignities, which were varied by
the infliction of bodily torments, escaped with his life on
paying five hundred florins ; Paul Welwar gave a ransom of
fifteen hundred florins, but died a few days after in conse-
quence of the inhuman treatment which he had received ;
John Moyses and his wife, of Kouigmestitz, as well as
Lawrence Curtin and his wife, of Netin, were burned alive ;
the parish ministers at Bakoven and Nimes were murdered in
other ways; Paul Pscheniczka, of Bochdalow, who had
reached nearly three score years and ten, was hung up in a
manner too devilish to be named ; a fire was kindled under
him with books from his own library, and he Avas slowly
roasted, until a soldier took pity on his excruciating sufferings
and shot him dead.

From royal or free cities the clergy were expelled in 1622
and the following years, by a Commission sent out for this
purpose. Although they did not suffer the cruelties practiced
by the marauding soldiers, they were treated with the greatest


brutality. The most notorious of the com raissi oners was
George Michna, a butcher's son, who had risen to be a wealthy
count. At the head of a troop of horse he rode about from
place to place, in the Schlan and Leitmeritz districts, reviling,
maltreating and driving away from parish and from home
God's faithful servants. The majority of them escaped to
other countries; some hid themselves in forests or among the
mountains and secretly ministered to their flocks. The vacant
parishes were committed to Catholic priests; but as their
number proved insufficient several churches, sometimes as
many as six, constituted one charge. As a rule, the priests
were worthless characters and led immoral lives.^

The crusade against the Protestant clergy involved a recon-
struction of the schools of which they had had the oversight
and the dismissal of the teachers. Nor did the University
escape. On the thirtieth of April, 1622, Adam von Wald-
stein, in the name of the E,egent, deposed the Professors who
were not Romanists ; a few days later commissioners entered
the Carolinum, sealed up the archives and gave the building
to two renegade members of the Faculty. Thereupon the
endowments, rights and privileges of this ancient and illus-
trious seat of learning were made over to the Jesuit College.
That University which Charles the Fourth had founded,
practically ceased to exist.

Such measures resulted in a melancholy decay of learning ;

while popular education, that had attained to a point which

it reached in few other countries, sank to the lowest ebb. A

Roman Catholic historian writes :

"I do not know of a single scholar, subsequent to the expul-
sion of the Protestants, who distinguished himself by his learn-
ing. The University was in the hands of the Jesuits, or prac-
tically abohshed. The Pope forbade promotions, so that no

* This fact is not only substantiated by many instances which George
Holyk adduces from personal observation, but also fully granted by the
E. C. writer Pelzel, who says : " Sie predigten und lehrten zwar mit vielera
Eifer; allein von der andern Seite fiihrten sie ein lasterhaftes Leben.
Viele gingen nach Polen wieder zuriick, da sie zuvor den Biirgern ihre
Tochter oder gar Weiber verfuhrt und entfuhrt hatteu." Pelzel, II. p. 744.


academical degrees could be conferred. A few patriots, both
amoug the laity and the clergy, murmured openly but in vain
against this state of affairs ; others secretly mourned over the
decline of literature. Throughout the kingdom nearly all the
schools were in the hands of the Jesuits or other ecclesiastical
orders, and little more than bad Latin was taught." ®

About the same time that the University was closed,
Liechtenstein dismissed the Protestant magistrates of Prague
and put Catholics in their place.

The third anti-reformatory measure was the destruction of
Protestant literature. This work began at Prague soon after
its capture. Instigated by the Catholic clergy, the Spanish
troops and those from the Netherlands burst into private
dwellings and searched their libraries, carrying off all works
written in Bohemian, whether they related to religion or not,
and burning them in the public squares.'' When the Reform
Commissioners commenced passing through the country the
same vandalism occurred. Sometimes the books were
privately thrown into the flames, in the houses where they
had been seized, even as — so says the History of Perseeutions
— Jehoiakim cast Jeremiah's roll into the fire on the hearth f
at other times they were brought to the market place, or
without the walls, or to the gallows, and there publicly
burned. On such occasions soldiers posted themselves
around the fire in order to prevent the people from interfering.

The Jesuits were indefatigable in their search for heretical
literature, ransacking houses from cellar to garret, opening
every closet and chest, prying into the very dog-kennels and
pig-sties. When they had been successful and the flames
were consuming a pile of volumes, many of them perhaps
splendidly bound, they would stand by and rejoice aloud say-
ing : " Look, look, how beautifully these heretical books

« Pelzel, II. p. 790.

' In this way, with the exception of from three to six copies, the entire
edition, just published, of Dalimil's Chronicle, a celebrated Bohemian
History in rhymes, was lost. This edition was dedicated to Budowa and
William von Enppa. Palacky's Geschichtschreiber, p. 105.

® Jeremiah 36 : 113


with their false doctrines burn !" Many perished that had
no connection with religion. If a book was written in Bohe-
mian that was enough to condemn it. But it was against the
Holy Scriptures in particular that the Jesuits raged. Of
this sacred volume not a single copy upon which they could
lay their hands, was spared. They told the people that it

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 48 of 64)