The Powder Tower.

The Powder Tower.

A Distant View Of The Powder Tower.

A Distant View Of The Powder Tower.

The Great Bridge Tower.

The Great Bridge Tower.

Statue Of Charles IV., Prague.

Statue Of Charles IV., Prague.

Charles IV. In Profile.

Charles IV. In Profile.

Charles' Bridge And The Vltava.

Charles' Bridge And The Vltava.

Up to that time the people of Bohemia had been governed by a mass of loosely labeled precedents and old traditions. Charles now replaced these by a code of laws, and ordered that this legal digest should be read aloud before the people four times every year, that they might know their duties and their privileges. Another of his benefactions was the abolition of all "tests of innocence" by torture, thus ending many horrible abuses and degrading superstitions. At the same time he set his face like flint against all deeds of violence and private feuds among his nobles. But the most lasting and important act of this Bohemian emperor was the promulgation, in 1356, of his great edict, called from the gold imperial seal attached to the manuscript, the Golden Bull,-just as all papal "bulls" derive their name from the Latin bulla, or seal. This famous document, still preserved at Frankfort on the Main, established till Napoleon's time - more than four hundred years later - the method of electing German sovereigns for the Holy Roman Empire, limited to seven the number of the electors, defined what cities they should come from, and gave to them an equal rank with kings, so that their persons were inviolable, and all conspiracies against them treason. In view, then, of the record of Charles IV.'s achievements, it is small cause for wonder that the Czechs have reared a statue to his memory, and look upon his tomb in the cathedral as a shrine.

The Old Council Hall.

The Old Council Hall.

Of all the thrilling epochs in Bohemian history, none is so stirring, terrible, and tragic, as the period of the Hussite wars. The time perhaps has come when men can view that reign of terror without prejudice, and study both its causes and results impartially. John Hus was born in a Bohemian village in 1369. He died, a martyr at the stake, at Constance in 1415. Between those dates lie twoscore years of struggle, suffering, and apparent failure. Nevertheless, no history of Europe or the Church would be complete without his name. Although of peasant parentage, he graduated at the university of Prague, and finally came to be its rector. Meantime the writings of John Wycliffe, excommunicated and condemned for heresy in England, had made their way across the continent to Bohemia. Hus read them, and believed them. He even preached their new ideas, and advocated the reforms which Wycliffe had demanded. Had he been satisfied to speak in Latin, his influence would have been small; but he addressed the people in their native tongue. Crowds flocked to hear him. He became a popular idol. Every one now acknowledges that the Church then stood in need of reformation. Charles IV. had tried to institute improvements and correct abuses, and had failed. But times had changed. John Hus was the connecting link between the English Wycliffe and the German Luther. Wycliffe was dead and hated. Luther was yet to come. In 1405, Pope Innocent VII. issued a bull denouncing the ideas of Wycliffe.

In 1409, Pope Alexander V. condemned them also, and ordered every one who owned the English heretic's books to give them up. Many obeyed, and the archbishop of Prague burned publicly two hundred copies of the works in question. Hus, on the contrary, called Wycliffe orthodox, and publicly defended him. He also preached and wrote against the sale of indulgences, as Luther was to do two centuries later. Moreover, when summoned to appear at Rome, and answer to the charges brought against him, he refused to go, and although excommunicated on account of this, still preached defiantly. Things came to such a pass, that practically the whole of Prague was threatened with the papal ban, if it continued to protect and listen to him. Words passed to deeds. The conflict reached the university. At once the line was sharply drawn between the Czechs and Germans. The Czech professors stood by Hus, and clamored for reforms. The Germans to a man opposed them. So bitter grew the feud, that finally, on the 16th of May, 1409, the German teachers and students to the number of five thousand shook the dust of Prague from off their feet, and founded, that same year, the earliest university of Germany - that of Leipzig. At last so great was the disorder, that the king requested Hus to leave the city, which he did. In his retirement he wrote a book called "De Ecclesia," in which he claimed that the Christian Church needs no visible head, and that a pope who lives in mortal sin ceases to be a true pope. In 1413, a council was convened at Constance and Hus summoned to appear before it. This time he thought it wise to go, and on his way received repeated proofs of popular sympathy.