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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Picards

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A sect which arose in Bohemia, in the fifteenth century. Picard, the author of this sect, from whom it derived its name, drew after him, as has been generally said, a number of men and women, pretending he would restore them to the primitive state of innocence wherein man was created; and accordingly he assumed the title of New Adam. With this pretence, he taught, to give themselves up to all impurity, saying, that therein consisted the liberty of the sons of God, and all those not of their sect were in bondage. He first published his notions in Germany and the Low Countries, and persuaded many people to go naked, and gave them the name of Adamites. After this, he seized on an island in the river Lausnecz, some leagues from Thabor, the head-quarters of Zisca, where he fixed himself and his followers. His women were common, but none were allowed to enjoy them without his permission; so that when any man desired a particular woman, he carried her to Picard, who gave him leave in these words: Go, increase, multiply, and fill the earth. At length, however, Zisca, general of the Hussites (famous for his victories over the emperor Sigismond, ) hurt at their abominations, marched against them, made himself master of their island, and put them all to death except two, whom he spared, that he might learn their doctrine. Such is the account which various writers, relying on the authorities of AEaneas, Sylvius, and Varillas, have given of the Picards.

Some, however, doubt whether a sect of this denomination, chargeable with such wild principles and such licentious conduct, ever existed. It appears probable that the reproachful representations of the writers just mentioned, were calumnies invented and propagated in order to disgrace the Picards, merely because they deserted the communion, and protested against the errors of the church of Rome, Lastitus informs us, that Picard, together with forty other persons, besides women and children, settled in Bohemia, in the year 1418. Balbinus, the Jesuit, in his Epitome Rerum Bohemicarum, lib. 2: gives a similiar account, and charges on the Picards none of the extravagances or crimes ascribed to them by Sylvius. Schlecta, secretary of Ladislaus, king of Bohemia, in his letters to Erasmus, in which he gives a particular account of the Picards, says, that they considered the pope, cardinals, and bishops of Rome as the true antichrists; and the adorers of the consecrated elements in the eucharist as downright idolaters; that they denied the corporeal presence of Christ in this ordinance; that they condemned the worship of saints, prayers for the dead, auricular confessions, the penance imposed by priests, the feasts and vigils observed in the Romish church; and that they confined themselves to the observance of the sabbath, and of the two great feasts of Christmas and Pentecost. From this account it appears that they were no other than the Vaudois that fled from persecution in their own country, and sought refuge in Bohemia. M. De Beausobre has shown that they were both of the same sect, though under different denominations.

Besides, it is certain that the Vaudois were settled in Bohemia in the year 1178, where some of them adopted the rites of the Greek, and others those of the Latin church. The former were pretty generally adhered to till the middle of the fourteenth century, when the establishment of the Latin rites caused great disturbance. On the commencement of the national troubles in Bohemia, on account of the opposition of the papal power, the Picards more publicly avowed and defended their religious opinions; and they formed a considerable body in an island by the river Launitz, or Lausnecz, in the district of Bechin, and, recurring to arms, were defeated by Zisca.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Picards'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/p/picards.html. 1802.

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