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Re: Queries on Bohemian Adamites

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  • alastairmillar
    ... *grin* I think you ll need to be a bit careful here, because from the browsing I ve done it seems that even in a Bohemian context Adamite can mean three
    Message 1 of 9 , Jul 4, 2003
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      --- In sig@yahoogroups.com, "rosanne rabinowitz" <rosanne@l...> wrote:

      > I'm working on a novel about a woman leader of the 15th C
      > Bohemian Adamites called Maria (She's mentioned in passing
      > only by name, along with a blacksmith called Rohan, in
      > several accounts).

      *grin*
      I think you'll need to be a bit careful here, because from the
      browsing I've done it seems that even in a Bohemian context "Adamite"
      can mean three slightly different things:

      (1) a member of a sect formed in 1418 in East Bohemia by the
      French preacher Rohan, who took the name Adam. Advocated that both
      property and women be held in common... Rohan and his followers were
      burned at the stake. (NOTE: other sects, such as the flagellants, had
      similar views)

      (2) a radical Hussite faction founded around 1420 by Mikulas'
      Biskupec of Pelhr'imov (1385-1459) and Petr Kanis (d.1421). Based on
      the teachings of the Albigensians and Beghards, their philosophy
      called for a return to life without sin, as lived by Adam before his
      expulsion from Paradise, as well as social equality and common
      property, the destruction of the organisation of the Church and of
      the traditional family system. According to these Adamites, Christ
      was one of the prophets (i.e. a man, cf. with some Islamic beliefs),
      and many believed that God and the Devil were the elements of Good
      and Evil in the heart of every man. The cult of nudity was part of
      their tradition.

      (3) A 15th century Polish sect, also called 'fossaryjani' from the
      fissures and caves in which they lived - and popularly 'jamici' in
      Czech (from 'jama' = 'pit')

      I suspect that most sources - whether Czech or (particularly)
      English - fail to distinguish between the three...


      You might also want to look at Fudge's essay "Neither thine nor mine:
      communist experiments in Hussite Bohemia", online at
      http://www.usask.ca/history/cjh/fudg_498.htm - beware, however, of
      many missing Czech letters, and of translations which may not reflect
      the subtleties of the texts cited. For example,

      "P(r)ijde a bude taková láska v lidech, (z)e všechny v(e)ci
      budú mezi nimi v spolku a obecny, i (z)eny..."

      is translated as

      "Behold, the time is upon us when there will be much love among the
      people and all things will be held jointly and in common, even
      women ",

      whereas a better translation would be

      "There is coming and will be such love among the people, that all
      things will among them be in common and universal, even women".

      Not the same meaning!

      Note especially Fudge's assertion that "Tábor attempted to be more
      democratic and egalitarian vis-a-vis women, while the Unitas (Fratrum)
      remained exclusively patriarchal... it was only among the extremist
      wings like the Adamites that women actually functioned in conspicuous
      leadership roles"

      Since I live north of Prague, perhaps we could meet up in Prague
      while you're here? Last week of July/early August would be best for
      me...

      Cheers

      Alastair
    • Laura Todd
      From a longtime lurker: Behold, the time is upon us when there will be much love among the people and all things will be held jointly and in common, even
      Message 2 of 9 , Jul 4, 2003
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        From a longtime lurker:

        "Behold, the time is upon us when there will be much love among the
        people and all things will be held jointly and in common, even
        women "

        These guys weren't as radical as people seem to think. After all... they are
        still referring to women as "things".

        Laura
      • jenne@fiedlerfamily.net
        ... Probably not. Communal use of women is a lot more likely in a patriarchal society than free love and patriarchal language is much more likely to
        Message 3 of 9 , Jul 8, 2003
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          > When I read passages like the one you cite (Alistair quoting from a
          >Thomas Fudge article, who is quoting a contemporary chronicler, who is
          >quoting someone quoting the Bible!), and read the indignant observors
          >referring to 'the communal use of women' , I wonder if it really shows
          >the (patriarchal) bias of chroniclers & historians — or does it
          >actually reflect how things were? Does it reflect a failure of
          >imagination on the part of the particular observor (in this case,
          >probably Laurence of Brzezova or Aenius Silvius), to think that women are
          >actively initiating these activities and NOT being used?

          Probably not. 'Communal use of women' is a lot more likely in a
          patriarchal society than 'free love' and patriarchal language is much
          more likely to comment negatively but to the point if women are actively
          initiating these activities. Contrary to popular feminist belief,
          'patriarchal' writers in the middle ages believed quite strongly in
          women's sex drives, to the point of being frightened by them.

          > Given the lack of concrete information, you can only guess and
          >extrapolate. But given that women were actually occupying central roles
          >in this movement, it isn't inconceivable that they'd be playing a more
          >active part in seeking their own pleasure and throwing off the
          >restrictions of medieval society.

          If they had been, wouldn't the chroniclers, who are always ready to remark
          on women's voracious sexual appetites, have said so? Expecially in
          powerful women.

          So, as you say, there's no way to tell.

          -- Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika jenne@...
          "I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows, and
          Henry knows we know it. *smiles* We're a knowledgable family." -- _Lion in
          Winter_
        • rosanne rabinowitz
          Hi Laura, You ve touched on some questions that occurred to me when I was first looking into this subject! In fact, I was going to touch on this in the 2nd
          Message 4 of 9 , Jul 8, 2003
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            Hi Laura,

            You've touched on some questions that occurred to me when I was first looking into this subject! In fact, I was going to touch on this in the 2nd part of my reply to Alistair...

            When I read passages like the one you cite (Alistair quoting from a Thomas Fudge article, who is quoting a contemporary chronicler, who is quoting someone quoting the Bible!), and read the indignant observors referring to 'the communal use of women' , I wonder if it really shows the (patriarchal) bias of chroniclers & historians � or does it actually reflect how things were? Does it reflect a failure of imagination on the part of the particular observor (in this case, probably Laurence of Brzezova or Aenius Silvius), to think that women are actively initiating these activities and NOT being used?

            Given the lack of concrete information, you can only guess and extrapolate. But given that women were actually occupying central roles in this movement, it isn't inconceivable that they'd be playing a more active part in seeking their own pleasure and throwing off the restrictions of medieval society. Would they really be allowing themselves to be reduced to the status of 'things'? You can also look to back to the role of women in the Free Spirit tradition over a long period.

            Ironically, I came across one illuminating incident in a very hostile source, Frederick Heymann's biography of John Zizka. Several months after the expulsion of the Adamites from Tabor, JZ went to see what they were up to in Prebonice (where they'd settled). He reported, with great horror, that when an Adamite woman fancied a lad she'd tear open his breaches and say, 'Let loose your prisoner! Give me your soul and accept mine!'

            Well, that does imply a certain reciprocity! (*GRIN*)

            It's also useful to note that in the beginning of the Hussite movement, there were women preaching and there were trends towards sexual equality. However, when the conservative wing became more powerful, the idea that women could preach, give communion and play leadership roles was denounced as a "Pikart (ie. radical, Adamite) error".

            Of course, you don't need to look much further back than the 1960s to appreciate that things CAN get ambiguous; that there can be a mixture of experiences in movements stressing sexual freedom. While the situation was open to abuse by men who 'used' women as 'things', there were also women who found genuine pleasure and liberation in it as well.

            Then, of course, Alistair has pointed out a mis-translation of the passage in question!

            Rosanne

            --------- Original Message ---------
            DATE: Fri, 4 Jul 2003 16:46:31
            From: "Laura Todd" <shadow42@...>

            >"Behold, the time is upon us when there will be much love among the
            >people and all things will be held jointly and in common, even
            >women "
            >
            >These guys weren't as radical as people seem to think. After all... they are
            >still referring to women as "things".



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          • Annah Almaziful
            Wow lots of interesting stuff in this discussion for us bohemiaphiles ;)I haven t really come across much in my research about the Adamites - what = I ve
            Message 5 of 9 , Jul 9, 2003
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              Wow lots of interesting stuff in this discussion for us bohemiaphiles ;)

              I haven't really come across much in my research about the Adamites - what =

              I've read notes that they were pretty much exterminated by Zizka's army. W=
              hat
              I know you probably already know - the Picardists/Adamites were part of the=

              stream of Waldensian thought and came to Bohemia with high hopes for
              religious tolerance only to be swept up in a religious war and all but
              obliterated. Adamites were too radical for the radicals, with all that nudi=
              ty and
              free lovin' heehee. Anyways, I understand that the movement enjoyed a brie=
              f
              revival in the 18th century, but once again were just too radical and had t=
              o be
              smashed down.

              So... Don't have much information for you on that. You can check the Lollar=
              d
              Society Bibliography for sources both general to lollardy and specific to
              Central Europe - there may be the odd unindexed reference in one of those
              books to your interest area ;) http://lollard.home.att.net/bibhome.html

              As for Women in Medieval Bohemia. John Klassen argues that women
              enjoyed a degree of freedom both financially and romantically which was
              unusual for medieval Europe. I wish there was someone else who had done
              this sort of research as I would like to see a different perspective on it.=
              .. but I
              take what I can get! See especially 'Development of the Conjugal bond' and=

              'Marriage and Family' . See also Alfred Thomas' _Anne_of_Bohemia_ for a
              decent picture of pre-Hussite Society as reflected by contemporary literatu=
              re.

              OK... here are the references for the Klassen articles. They don't always h=
              ave
              page numbers - due to my getting lazy a few months ago!

              Klassen, John. `The disadvantaged and the Hussite revolution', Internationa=
              l
              Review of Social History, 35 (1990), 249-272

              Klassen, John. "The development of the conjugal bond in late medieval
              Bohemia", in: Journal of Medieval History 13, 1987, p. 161

              Klassen, John. "Gifts for the Soul and Social Charity in Late Medieval
              Bohemia," Materielle Kultur und religiöse Stiftung im Spätmittelalter
              (Osterreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften philosophisch-historische
              klasse sitzungsberichte, 554; Vienna, 1990), pp. 61-81

              Klassen, John. "Household Composition" Journal of Medieval History. Vol. 16=
              ,
              1990. pp 55-75.

              Klassen, John. "Marriage and Family in Medieval Bohemia" East European
              Quarterly, Fall 1985.

              John M. Klassen, Women and Religious Reform in late Medieval Bohemia
              (Renaissance and Reformation 5, 1981)

              -Eliska (yes I finally decided on a persona name)
            • Annah Almaziful
              Rosanne, The Bohemian women, especially townswomen, did, to use modern terminology own their sexuality and their right to seuxal satisfaction. C= heck
              Message 6 of 9 , Jul 9, 2003
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                Rosanne,

                The Bohemian women, especially townswomen, did, to use modern
                terminology 'own' their sexuality and their right to seuxal satisfaction. C=heck
                'Marriage and Family in Medieval Bohemia' by John Klassen (referenced in
                my other post two seconds ago). He uses divorce/annullment records to
                explore the nature of sexual relationships in the 14th and 15th century- LO=TS
                of case studies.

                To summarize, dating and mating occurred rather similarly to the way it doe=s
                now. People came together at markets, fairs and festivals, exchanged gifts=,
                and fooled around, sometimes even had sex. Women who claimed damages
                - for false proposal of marriage and subsequent loss of virginity- could ex=pect
                to receive about three months' wages for the plucking of their flower. Unwe=d
                mothers did exist, and non-virginhood did not appear to be an impediment to=
                marriage. People in Bohemia also travelled farther than other Europeans to=
                find mates. Frequently people from significant distances would marry and
                relocate. Women chose their sexual partners - in one case a woman asked for=
                divorce because her husband could not give her children, and she wanted to =
                bear progeny. Often their signals would get crossed - one young man thought=
                that because a girl held hands with him, they were married (the girl was
                asking for the annullment!). Women's pleasure and involvement in mating
                rituals is obvious and the Church made no noises of disapproval about thei=r
                premarital sex etc etc like we would think they would. Women fought for =
                what few rights they had, and, according to the surviving records Prof.
                Klassen uses, were active participants in all aspects of sexual relationshi=ps.

                Of course all was not peachy for ladies, spousal abuse was rampant and, as =
                in current times, they could really only hope for a gentle husband. Wealthy=
                townswomen or women of noble status could reasonably expect to have an
                arranged marriage. John Klassen makes much of the Bohemian style of
                dowry which ensured a woman a modicum of financial independence and
                allowed her to be an equal in an arranged marriage. Laws were in place to
                prevent husbands from access to this money, protecting the bride's financia=l
                standing.

                John Klassen's work is based on a small number of surviving records and
                cannot possibly be representative of the whole of bohemian society. What I =
                get from his research is that our notion of the 'extraordinary' medieval wo=man,
                who was closer to the modern woman in her expectation and achievement of
                certain rights and freedoms, is not so extra-ordinary after all. In medieva=l
                Bohemia, it appears, women who used the channels available to them to
                improve their lot in life were in slightly higher numbers than we expect. I=n
                other words, an ordinary woman - not touched by God or a highly poetic nun =
                or a finessing noblewoman or any of the legendary medieval women- could
                be personally successful in life, survival, and happiness.


                [snipped by moderator. Do not include entire posts in your replies.]
              • rosanne rabinowitz
                Yes, that was a major factor I should have mentioned when I talked about the need to extrapolate. I ve read a number of things by John Klassen, including a
                Message 7 of 9 , Jul 10, 2003
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                  Yes, that was a major factor I should have mentioned when I talked about the need to extrapolate.

                  I've read a number of things by John Klassen, including a book Warring Maidens, Captive Wives and Hussite Queens, which contains the info you mention. In this book, he also analyses about the central myth of Libusa, Vlasta and the War of the Maidens and how that could have influenced Bohemian women's perceptions of themselves.

                  And while you point out that the women Klassen talks about may not be 'typical', they do indicate such expectations were not unknown. And women active in certain heretical sects would be very likely to hold them!

                  Rosanne

                  --------- Original Message ---------

                  DATE: Wed, 09 Jul 2003 16:09:17
                  From: "Annah Almaziful"
                  >Rosanne,
                  >
                  >The Bohemian women, especially townswomen, did, to use modern
                  >terminology 'own' their sexuality and their right to seuxal satisfaction. C^@
                  >heck
                  >'Marriage and Family in Medieval Bohemia' by John Klassen (referenced in
                  >my other post two seconds ago). He uses divorce/annullment records to
                  >explore the nature of sexual relationships in the 14th and 15th century- LO^@
                  >TS
                  >of case studies.
                  >



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                • jennifer knox
                  http://archaeology.kiev.ua/journal/eng/ anya Speak softly and carry a big stick -- Teddy Roosevelt ... Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free,
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 13, 2003
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                    http://archaeology.kiev.ua/journal/eng/

                    anya



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