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to recognise the supremacy of Tabor. The war of the Taborites against the king, the pope,
and all of Europe, was not in the interests of the nobility. After the victory of the Taborites
at Tauss (1431), it seemed that there was no enemy capable of coping with them. But the
Calixtines  started  negotiations  with  the  enemy.  They  decided  to  call  to  a  Diet  all  barons,
knights,  and  representatives  of  the  cities,  to  discuss  a  plan  for  a  state  organization.  Tabor
itself  was  divided.  The  lower  middle-class  and  the  peasantry  were  indifferent  to  the
communist programme. They wanted peace. Tabor’s communism was not stable. It had not
the  foundation  of  communist  production,  therefore  equality  of  the  means  of  subsistence
soon disappeared. There were both rich and poor in Tabor.
The army of Tabor was being overcrowded by ‘crooks and riff-raff of all nations.’ As
soon  as  the  nobility  began  to  recruit  soldiers  for  a  war  against  Tabor,  offering  better
conditions  than  the  communist  community,  treason  crept  into  the  ranks  of  the  Taborite
army, and wholesale desertion began. This explains the fall of Tabor. On May 30, 1434, the
Taborites  suffered  a  crushing  defeat  near  Czeski  Brod.  Out  of  18,000  Taborite  soldiers,
13,000  were  killed.  In  1437,  they  were  compelled  to  conclude  a  treaty  with  Sigismund,
who  guaranteed  them  the  independence  of  Tabor.  But  in  spite  of  this  the  communist
community of Tabor soon disappeared.

Scourging Friars

(Flagellants) – A sect of people who whip themselves. It appeared in
Europe  as  early  as  the  Eleventh  Century,  and  became  widespread  in  the  Thirteenth,
Fourteenth  and  Fifteenth  Centuries.  From  Italy,  the  movement  spread  through  southern
France,  Netherlands,  Alsace  and  Lorraine.  The  Flagellants  taught  that  it  was  possible  to
obtain  absolution  from  sin  by  inflicting  sufferings  on  one’s  body.  One  of  the  first
ecclesiastical theorists of this sect, George VII, taught that in this way the faithful emulated
Christ,  laboured  to  obtain  a  martyr’s  crown,  deadened  and  castigated  their  flesh,  and
expiated their sins. This doctrine was in line with the prevailing asceticism of the Middle
Ages,  which  demanded  of  the  faithful  to  harden  and  torture  their  bodies  by  fasting,  poor
clothing,  etc.,  in  the  name  of  Christ.  The  Flagellant  movement,  however,  assumed  the
character  of  an  epidemic,  of  a  mass  psychosis.  Thus,  in  the  Thirteenth  Century,  bands  of
people marched through the cities of Italy, whipping themselves with straps and lashes, and
praying for absolution. After the devastating epidemic of the ‘Black Death,’ the movement
assumed  a  dangerous  character.  In  many  localities  of  Germany,  France  and  Flanders,
Flagellants  in  mortal  terror,  imagining  that  Christ  was  about  to  destroy  the  world  for  the
sins of mankind, inflicted cruel punishment upon themselves. In German cities, Flagellant
communities began to come into existence. ‘Those desirous of partaking of self-castigation
had to pay a small fee, and this was all demanded of proselytes.’ In the Fifteenth Century,
the movement weakened, but it did not disappear. The Flagellants of the Fifteenth Century
The Peasant War in Germany
– 108 –

spoke  evil  of  the  monks  and  demanded  a  series  of  church  reforms.  The  Roman  Church,
which at the beginning had not opposed the movement since, in Italy, it was anti-imperial
and therefore a means of strengthening the Church, began to persecute the Flagellants. In
the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, the movement became fashionable at court. Sex
elements began to dominate in it. Traces of this sect can be found even in the Nineteenth

The Lollards

– A religious sect widespread among the working populations of England
in  the  Fourteenth  and  Fifteenth  Centuries.  The  heresies  of  those  times  found  favourable
ground not only among the master classes. As a matter of fact, every class formulated its
demands through the reform movement. Thus, among the poorest weavers of England the
sect  of  Beghards,  or,  as  they  were  commonly  called  in  England,  Lollards,  came  into
existence.  (The  Lollards  were  funeral  chanters.)  The  Beghards  first  appeared  in  the
Netherlands  (Flanders  and  Brabant),  in  a  country  where  commerce  and  industry  had
progressed  earlier  than  in  the  rest  of  Europe  and  where  sheep-breeding  and  the  woollen
industry  were  highly  developed.  The  sect  of  Beghards  was  in  most  cases  a  fraternity  of
weavers.  Unmarried  artisans  belonging  to  the  sect  lived  in  common  houses,  where  they
kept  a  communist  household.  The  movement  started  in  England  when  the  weavers  of
Flanders  migrated  into  that  country.  Norfolk,  the  centre  of  the  woollen  industry,  became
also  the  centre  of  the  movement  of  the  English  Beghards,  the  Lollards.  The  Lollard
propagandists,  called  ‘poor  brothers,’  spread  the  new  doctrine  over  the  country.  Errant
‘poor  ministers’  preached  to  the  people  that  lay  and  ecclesiastical  possessions  should  be
common property. They urged the people to pay neither dues nor tithes to the clergy, and
appealed to the servants to refuse to work for the masters. In 1395, the Lollards petitioned
Parliament,  demanding  a  reform  of  the  Anglican  Church,  abolition  of  its  worldly
possessions and celibacy. The petition was rejected.
The most outstanding representative of the Lollards was John Ball, the mad minister of
Kent. Coming from the ranks of the Franciscan monks who sympathised with the Lollard
movement,  he  became  one  of  the  leaders  of  the  peasant  uprising  of  1381  in  England.
Beginning  with  1356,  John  Ball  preached  mainly  in  Essex  and  in  Norfolk,  delivering  his
sermons in city squares and cemeteries. They became very popular. He preached common
property, and urged the people to exterminate the nobility. Only then, he said, would people
be equal, and the masters would be no higher than the rest. All men originated from Adam
and  Eve,  he  said.  ‘When  Adam  dolf  and  Eve  span,  who  was  then  the  gentleman?’  be
queried. He was killed during the suppression of the revolt in 1381.
The  Lollard  movement  gained  in  importance  when  it  became  connected  with  the
peasant uprising and with the opposition movement of the middle-class in the cities, After
The Peasant War in Germany
– 109 –


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