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Re: Bohemian Adamites/the French connection

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  • rosanne rabinowitz
    Hi Alastair, Thanks for responding — it brings up a lot of stuff! In fact, due to the growing length of my own response I ll have to divide it up. First,
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 4, 2003
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      Hi Alastair,

      Thanks for responding � it brings up a lot of stuff! In fact, due to the growing length of my own response I'll have to divide it up.

      First, your reference to this 'French preacher' Rohan is very interesting � I've not heard that angle before. I have come across another French (or is it Flemish?) connection that traces some of the ideas of the Bohemian Adamites to a group of 40-odd refugees from Lille, Tournai, possibly Brussels who settled around Prague in 1418. (this is in both Howard Kaminsky's History of the Hussite Revolution & Norman Cohn's Pursuit of the Milennium � who take most of it from Laurence of Brzezova's history, I think. (Have you by any chance read the full Laurence of B account?)

      According to what I've gleaned: they were apparently some kind of Free Spirit sect that denied the divinity of Christ, didn't go to church or take communion, in fact wanted to do away with the church and established order comletely and could have held communistic and sexually libertarian beliefs. They initially received a warm welcome and were offered help from reform-minded nobles in Queen Sophia's court � who later became horrified when they realised just what these guys were like! (didn't understand a word of their language, so it took a while to catch on...)

      According to Cohn, they had links with a group in Brussels called the Men of Intelligence (Homines Intelligentae) � which also included a number of women of intelligence. The interesting thing about this group is that they depart from the usual Free Spirit/Beghard tradition of the two stages to freedom of spirit (ie a period of asceticism, then onward to sensuality and excess!) by going straight to the second stage. They believed that there is no need for penance � the poverty we live in has been penance enough. So let's go straight for the fun stuff!

      They also seemed to believe in direct action or 'propaganda' of the deed, with supporters making a couple of assassination attempts on inquisitors during a crackdown on the group in 1410-ish. (Most of the info I got on this Brussels bunch came from Raoul Vaneigem's Movement of the Free Spirit.)

      Anyway, the group of refugees in Prague apparently did get a lot of interest from other locals (did some of them learn Czech, or communicate in another language, say Latin or German?).

      Thing is, none of the historians I've read seem to know what happened to these people later. Could they have moved on to East Bohemia & become the ill-fated lot you mentioned? Could some of them stayed around making trouble in Prague, or perhaps moved onto Tabor? When did these folk you mention get burned at the stake?

      Both Kaminsky & Fudge mention 'Rohan the Blacksmith' as leading the Adamites (along with Maria) following the execution of Peter Kanis. I think Kaminsky says that Rohan devised the military defense of the island they fortified, against Zizka's troops.

      Anyway, there's more to go into, but I'll do another email. I'll reply off-list about meeting up in Prague...

      Rosanne




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    • Alastair Millar
      Rosanne writes... ... It makes sense - I don t think that Rohan is a Slavic name... Moreover, it was characteristic of the group that anyone could become a
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 6, 2003
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        Rosanne writes...

        > your reference to this 'French preacher' Rohan ... I've not
        > heard that angle before.

        It makes sense - I don't think that Rohan is a Slavic name... Moreover, it
        was characteristic of the group that anyone could become a preacher, so
        take "preacher" as a description rather than as a definition of his
        profession. This removes any contradiction with his being a blacksmith.

        > I have come across another French (or is it Flemish?)
        > connection

        There's also the fact that 'Beghard' is a corruption of 'Picard' - and
        Picardy is of course in what is now northern France.

        > (Have you by any chance read the full Laurence of B account?)

        Nope, this is all much to late to be of huge interest to me! Personally I
        find the early period (up to around the 12th century) much more
        interesting...

        > According to what I've gleaned: they were apparently some
        > kind of Free Spirit sect that denied the divinity of Christ,

        This agrees with what I posted, too.

        > Anyway, the group of refugees in Prague apparently did
        > get a lot of interest from other locals

        There were various reasons for this, I suspect, some of which would have
        been specific to the behaviour of the nobility towards the peasantry in
        Bohemia, some of which more general. My mind keeps getting stuck on the
        flagellants, many of whom held similar beliefs and who were greeted with
        apparent enthusiasm across much of Europe... or was it simply that the
        medieval peasant was a bit short on entertainment, and there people
        wandering around naked or beating themselves bloody attracted followings
        for this reason? (*grin* that line should get a reaction...)

        > (did some of them learn Czech, or communicate in
        > another language, say Latin or German?).

        Czech or German, I would imagine... Latin would have been the preserve of
        the well-educated, i.e. the Church and Church-educated.

        > Thing is, none of the historians I've read seem to know
        > what happened to these people later.

        Between the Catholics and those Hussites who felt that they were just TOO
        radical, I would imagine that they were wiped out or driven severely
        underground... hence the lack of later reports.

        > Anyway, there's more to go into, but I'll do another email.
        > I'll reply off-list about meeting up in Prague...

        Great :-)

        Alastair

        ---------------------------
        Alastair Millar, BSc(Hons) - alastair@...
        Consultancy and translation for the heritage industry
        P.O.Box 11, CZ 413 01 Roudnice, Czech Republic
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