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Zbynek Zajíc of Hazmburk

(c. 1378—1411)
Archbishop and archenemy

Zbynek had exactly one qualification for the highest ecclesiastical office in Bohemia: money. He purchased the archbishopric in 1402 for 2,800 gulden, plus 1,480 gulden to cover the debts left by his two predecessors.

Merely 25 years old, he lacked the education, theological training, or maturity to handle the demands of his new job. Despite his inexperience, however, this ex-soldier had faith, enthusiasm, and an earnest desire to do God's work.

At first, Zbynek and Hus got along extremely well. Zbynek joined Hus's efforts to curb immorality among Prague's clergy, and he asked Hus to alert him personally or by letter to any offenses he had missed. He also invited Hus to preach at two important church synods held in Prague in 1405 and 1407.

Their friendship did not last very long, for anti- reformers soon converted the naive archbishop to their cause. In 1408 they convinced Zbynek that local reformers held heretical beliefs, and Zbynek determined to end the movement.

The archbishop issued a decree forbidding anyone to teach Wyclif's errors or even mention the words "bread" and "wine" during the Eucharist. Hus disobeyed both orders and went on to write a treatise examining, among other things, the uses of the word "bread" in the New Testament (Jesus used it 11 times in John 6 alone). The relationship between archbishop and pastor never recovered.

Zbynek used every ecclesiastical weapon in his arsenal against Hus. He asked the pope to forbid Hus from preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel. Hus disobeyed, saying, "Am I bound to obey the archbishop in his command contrary to the command of God? Be it far from me!" So Zbynek excommunicated him. The archbishop also repeatedly ...

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