The execution of Jan Hus 6 July 1415.
The place appointed for the execution was before the Gottlieben Gate, between the gardens and the gates of the suburbs. When John
Hus was come thither, kneeling down upon his knees, and lifting his eyes up unto heaven, he prayed, and said certain Psalms, and especially the thirty-first anti fifty-first Psalms. And they who stood hard by, heard him oftentimes in his prayer, with a merry and cheerful countenance, repeat this verse: “Unto thy hands, O` Lord! I commend my spirit, &c.`; which thing when the lay people beheld who stood next unto him, they said: “What he hails done before, we know not; but now we see and hear that he doth speak and pray very devoutly and godly.” Others wished that he had a confessor. There was a certain priest by, sitting on horseback, in a green gown, drawn about with red silk, who said: “He ought not to be heard, because he is a heretic:” yet, notwithstanding, while he was In prison, he was both confessed, and also absolved by a certain doctor, a monk, as
Hus himself doth witness in a certain epistle which he wrote unto his friends out of prison. Thus Christ reigneth unknown unto the world, even in the midst of his enemies. In the mean time while John
Hus prayed, as he bowed his neck backwards to look upward unto heaven, the crown of paper fell off from his head upon the ground. Then one of the soldiers, taking it up again, said: “Let us put it again upon his head, that he may be burned with his masters the devils, whom he hath served.”
When, by the commandment of the tormentors, he was risen up from the place of his prayer, with a loud voice lie said : “ Lord Jesus Christ assist and help me, that with a constant and patient mind, by thy most gracious help, I may bear and suffer this cruel and ignominious death, whereunto I am condemned for the preaching of thy most holy gospel and word.” Then, as before, he declared the cause of his death unto the people. In the mean season the hangman stripped him of his garments, and turning his hands behind his back, tied him fast unto the stake with ropes that were made wet. And whereas, by chance, he was turned towards the east, certain cried out that he should not look towards the east, for he was a heretic: so he was turned towards the west. Then was his neck tied with a chain unto the stake, which chain when he beheld, smiling he said, that he would willingly receive the same chain for Jesus Christ’s sake, who, he knew, was bound with a far worse chain. Under his feet they set two faggots, admixing straw withal, and so likewise, from the feet up to the chin, he was enclosed in round about with wood. But before the wood was set on fire, Louis, duke of Bavaria, and another gentleman with him, who was the son of Clement, came and exhorted John
Hus, that he would yet be mindful of his salvation, and renounce his errors. To whom he said:
“What error should I renounce, when I know myself guilty of none? For as for those things which are falsely alleged against me, I know that I never did so much as once think them, much less preach them. For this was the principal end and purpose of my doctrine, that I might teach all men penance and remission of sins, according to the verity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the exposition of the holy doctors : wherefore, with a cheerful mind and courage, I am here ready to suffer death.” When he had spoken these words, they left him, and shaking hands together, departed.
In a last gesture Hus ( whose name means goose in Bohemia)
joked, perhaps prophetically, with the executioner saying
Are you going to burn a goose ? In one century you will have a swan
you can neither roast nor boil.”
Martin Luther`s coat of arms was a swan.
Then was the fire kindled, and John
Hus began to sing with a loud voice: “Jesus Christ ! the Son of the living God! have mercy upon me.” And when he began to say the same the third time, the wind drove the flame so upon his face, that it choked him. Yet notwithstanding he moved awhile after, by the space that a man might almost say three times the Lord’s Prayer. When all the wood was burned and consumed, the upper part of the body was left hanging in the chain, which they threw down stake and all, and making a new fire, burned it, the head being first cut in small gobbets, that it might the sooner he consumed unto ashes. The heart, which was found amongst the bowels, being well beaten with staves and clubs, was at last pricked upon a sharp stick, and roasted at a fire apart until it was consumed. Then, with great diligence gathering the ashes together, they cast them into the river Rhine, that the least remnant of the ashes of that man should not he left upon the earth, whose memory, notwithstanding, cannot be abolished out of the minds of the godly, neither by fire, neither by water, neither by any kind of torment.
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