Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Friday, May 30, 2014

30 May 1416 A.D. Council of Constance: Jerome of Prague Burned at the Stake

30 May 1416 A.D.  Council of Constance: Jerome of Prague Burned at the Stake.

The story is told by Dr. Rusten. 

Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. The One Year Christian History. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003. Available at:

Jerome was tall, black-bearded, a bit hot-headed and well-travelled.

He was something of an early Reformer—of sorts—in the Vatican-driven outfit in the 1390s.

Jan Huss encouraged Jerome to visit England to study with the internationally known figure at Oxford, John Wycliffe.   Jerome went.  He immersed himself in Wycliffian studies and teachings. We tell the Wycliffe story elsewhere, but what a fascinating, elect and godly Churchman!

Upon return to Prague, he brought Wycliffe’s ideas and writing back to Hus and other scholars. But the restless Jerome continued his travels taking Wycliffite thinking elsewhere.

Jerome went to Jerusalem, Paris, Poland, Lithuania, Heidelberg, Cologne, Vienna, Russia and Hungary.  He was an able scholar and good speaker. He drew university crowds.  But, he always upset university masters and ecclesiastics.  He’d then leave with the leaders cooling their heels.

His mentor, if not master, Jan Huss was arrested and brought to Constance in 1414.  Jerome promised to come and represent Hus’ cause, but Hus waved Jerome off. Yet, secretly, Jerome entered Constance on 4 April 1415, posting inflammatory signs around the city.  He was demanding the right to speak before the Council in Hus’s defense. It didn’t go too well.

Jerome was captured and imprisoned.  Hus, meanwhile, was burned at the stake.  Jerome, facing the same, recanted and confessed loyalty to the Vatican-controlled outfit (coming off the multiple-Pope problem and Wycliffe-problems).  The Council declared by Huss and Wycliffe to be heretics (we would insert that Wycliffe got disfavorable mention—a heretic—at the opening session of the Council).

But, Jerome’s recantation wasn’t believed.  Jerome, something like Cranmer 140 years later, would “recant of his recantation.” He languished in jail. The Council refused to hear him.

He angrily replied,

“What iniquity is this! While I have languished for three hundred and fifty days in the most cruel prisons, in stench, squalor, excrements, and chains, lacking all things, you have ever heard my adversaries and slanderers; but me you now refuse to hear even for an hour!...For you have already in your minds condemned me as an unworthy man, before you could learn what I really am.  But you are men, not gods, not immortals, but mortals!”

Of course, that’s didn’t go too well for Jerome.  (Jerome hadn’t read Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now.)

Jerome was led to the same spot where Jan Huss was murdered—murdered in the first degree, with malice aforethought, cold-bloodedness, and with the clear formation of intent to murder along with the act.

As Jerome was led to that fatal spot of murder 1, he sang hymns in Latin and Czech.  The wood was placed around him. 

The Papists made him wear a “paper crown” as a form of mockery.

Jerome was burned, wearing his paper crown, on 30 May 1416.

Questions or applications:

  • Peter denied our Sovereign Redeemer, yet recanted and was forgiven.  Have you ever denied the Lord Jesus Christ before a mere mortal?  If so, why would you do that?  Someone’s bad opinion? 
  • Coordinate this with the lengthy issue of Donatism and the Imperial persecutions, that is, those who denied Christ but recanted and desired readmission to the Church. 


Looser, Frieda. “The Wanderer.” CH. 68: 28-29.

Parker, G.H. The Morning Star: Wycliffe and the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. 3. of The Advance of Christianity through the Centuries. Edited by F.F. Bruce. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965. 76-101.

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