Bohemian Adamites

A radical Christian sect that practiced nudism and free love.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Hussites
Leader: Peter Kanis
Founded: 15th c in Tabor
Ended: 1421, although allegedly still existed into the 1790s
Location: Bohemia
Also called: Pikarti
Size: about 200

The Bohemian Adamites, a notable group in the history of religious movements, emerged during the tumultuous period of the Hussite Wars in the 15th century in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. This sect, deeply influenced by the ideologies of the time, particularly by the more radical elements of the Hussite movement, carved a distinctive identity, marked by unique theological and social practices that often put them at odds with both secular and religious authorities.

Origins and Influences

The Bohemian Adamites’ origins can be traced back to the early 15th century, a period characterized by significant religious and social upheaval in Europe. Bohemia, at this time, was a hotbed of religious reform and dissent, primarily due to the influence of Jan Hus, a reformer who challenged the authority and practices of the Catholic Church. After Hus’s execution in 1415, his followers, known as Hussites, split into several factions, each with its own interpretation of his teachings.

Among these factions, the Taborites emerged as a prominent group advocating for radical reforms. The Adamites, often considered an offshoot of the Taborites, took these reformist ideas to an extreme level. They were heavily influenced by the notion of returning to the state of innocence and purity believed to have existed in the Garden of Eden, reflecting the views of the earlier Adamite sect in the early church and a later Adamite sect in England.

Beliefs and Practices

The Bohemian Adamites’ beliefs revolved around the concept of regaining the innocence and sinlessness of Adam and Eve before the Fall. Central to their doctrine was the rejection of established societal norms, particularly those related to property, marriage, and the governance of the church. Their key beliefs included:

  1. Nudism: The Adamites practiced communal nudism, symbolizing their return to the state of prelapsarian innocence. This practice was not only a theological statement but also a form of protest against the perceived corruption and materialism of the church and society.
  2. Communal Living: They believed in communal living and shared possessions, rejecting private property as a form of sin. This communalism was a radical interpretation of the early Christian practices described in the Acts of the Apostles.
  3. Rejection of Marriage: The Adamites viewed marriage as a result of the sinful state of humanity after the Fall. They advocated for sexual freedom, which was in stark contrast to the contemporary Christian norms and was one of the most controversial aspects of their doctrine.
  4. Millenarianism: Like many religious groups of their time, the Adamites held strong apocalyptic beliefs, expecting an imminent end of the world and the establishment of a New Jerusalem. This i expectation fueled their radical practices and urgency in reforming society.

Conflict with Authorities

The radical nature of the Adamites’ beliefs inevitably led to conflicts with both religious and secular authorities. The Catholic Church, already dealing with the broader Hussite movement, viewed the Adamites as heretics. Their practices, especially their nudism and rejection of marriage, were seen as direct challenges to the moral and social order of the time.

Moreover, the Hussite leaders themselves, including the more moderate Utraquists and even the radical Taborites, found the Adamites’ practices extreme and troublesome. The Adamites’ rejection of societal norms and their disruptive behavior in the region led to increasing tensions.

Decline and Suppression

The confrontations with both religious and secular powers soon led to active suppression of the Bohemian Adamites. The exact details of their suppression are sparse, but historical records indicate that by the mid-15th century, the Adamite movement had largely been extinguished with the combination of military action against them and the broader pacification of the Hussite movement in Bohemia contributing to their demise.

image via Medium

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