Paletz, Stephen

Paletz, Stephen a noted Bohemian divine, flourished during the ante-Reformation movement of the 15th century. He was at first a friend of Huss, but finally turned, and became his most violent accuser and persecutor. Of the early personal history of Paletz we have nothing at command. We first encounter him as the friend and bosom companion of the great Bohemian Reformer. We are told that they shared bed and table together. Paletz sided not only with Huss, but most enthusiastically he commended, too, the writings and opinions of Wickliffe, and frequently spoke in their defence. Thus on a public debate before the university at Prague, when he had finished one of his speeches for the good cause by exhibiting and explaining the views of Wickliffe, he threw the book from which he had quoted into the midst of his audience, exclaiming, "Let who will impugn a single word, I will defend it." About 1409 several of Huss's most faithful adherents, then called "Wickliffites." were imprisoned by king Wenzel. Among these persecuted ones was Paletz; and when at last released after an eighteen months' incarceration, he came out much quieted and greatly in fear of the papists. Huss had remained all this time unmoved, and proved his fitness for leadership; Paletz had been thoroughly frightened, and with equal force proved his incapacity. True, he still remained an adherent of the ante- Reformer; and when the papal bull came out for the crusade (Sept. 9, 1411), Paletz admitted that there were "palpable errors" in it (Mon. Hussi, i, 265); but early in 1412; when the university held a conference to consider in how far it was wise to sustain Huss against pope and king, Paletz withdrew from Huss and endorsed the papists again (ibid. i, 175), in so tame and cowardly a manner that Huss said of Paletz, "he walked and turned backwards like a crab." The truth is, Paletz was governed by worldly prudence. He saw that the Reformer's cause was a desperate one. Few in numbers, Huss; and his adherents had to encounter the royal and papal power, and there was not much likelihood of success. A timely retreat would cover all past offences and soon restore him to papal favor. He found, however, that he had counted without his host. The papists demanded that he should not only reject Huss, but oppose him; and, rather than lose his game, Paletz went into the conflict, and became a most violent accuser and persecutor. Huss had made his special point the supreme and sole authority of the Scriptures, Paletz replied by a defence of the papal supremacy in the Church visible. But Huss was more than a match for his former friend, and he dealt his blows freely and harshly. At last Huss went before the Council of Constance with his case. Thither, too, Paletz followed Huss, the bitter zeal of the papal defender having in the mean time been greatly aggravated by the unpleasant memories of frequent defeats under the heavy fire of the Reformer's sound logic. When the cardinals in council assembled for private session were hesitating how to dispose of Huss, Paletz secured admission, and urged and insisted that the heretic should not be set at liberty again, and they finally adopted Paletz's policy. When word of this was taken to Huss, and he insisted upon a public hearing before the council, Paletz again made use of artifices and intrigues, and prevented a favorable reply to Huss's request. Paletz knew the power of Huss's eloquence, and he, as well as the other papists who were allied with him in these intrigues, did not wish to have the experiment of it tried upon the council. He as well as his coadjutors failed, however, in securing his condemnation unheard. King Sigismund saw the injustice of such an act, and prevented the plot; but even in the audiences granted, Paletz always carefully watched his opportunities to worst his rival in argument. His course at this time was in many respects contemptible, yet it may be palliated on the ground that Paletz, probably, with all his animosity, merely sought the humiliation and not the life of Huss, and that it was a partisan spirit which at 'this time controlled Paletz. Certainly, when Huss had been condemned, and efforts were making to secure his abjuration of heresy, Paletz was among those who visited Huss in prison; and the gentle manner in which he treated his former friend evinces that he was not altogether void of feeling, and that, great as he was himself by native talent and untiring industry, he' was in the presence of one greater, because he allied with all these distinctions the virtue of honor and truthfulness. Paletz had been selected by Huss as his confessor in his dying hour, but the papal servant felt too keenly the sad ending of this persecution to have complied with Huss's request. When Jerome was persecuted, Paletz again accused, but with less acrimony and persistency. Paletz died about the middle of the 15th century; of his writings none are now accessible. See Gillett, Life and Times of John Huss, vol. i and ii; Mon. Hussi, as referred to above; Jenkins, Life and Times of Cardinal Julian, p. 46; Ep. Huss. i, in his Opp. vol. i; Palacky, Bohmische Geschichte, iii, 161 sq.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.