flagellants


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.

flagellants

(flăj`ələnts, fləjĕl`ənts), term applied to the groups of Christians who practiced public flagellation as a penance. The practice supposedly grew out of the floggings administered as punishment to erring monks, although flagellation as a form of religious expression is an ancient usage. Among the flagellants it was an extreme expression of the ascetic ideal. Self-flagellation as a penance was approved by the early Christian church. However, the flagellant movement itself did not appear until the 13th cent., and it was not until c.1260 that the flagellants grew into large, organized bodies. Arising in the towns of N Italy, the movement spread across the Alps to Germany, Bohemia, and even to Poland. Bands of flagellants marched from town to town and in public places bared their backs and beat each other and themselves, all the while exhorting the people to repent. The disorderly and morbid nature of these exhibitions led civil and ecclesiastical authorities to suppress them. The movement died down, although it occasionally reappeared, especially in Germany in 1296 and in Italy under the leadership of Venturino of Bergamo. During the general societal confusion that accompanied the Black Death (1348–49) it flared up again. From the East bands of flagellants spread across Hungary and Germany, to S Europe and even to England, where no converts were gained. In 1349, Pope Clement VI prohibited the practice. Heretical flagellant sects such as the Bianchi of Italy and France (c.1399) and the followers of Karl Schmidt (c.1414) were suppressed; milder forms of flagellation were tolerated, however, and even encouraged by such leaders as St. Vincent Ferrer. There was a reappearance of public flagellation within the church after the Reformation. Catherine de' Medici and King Henry III of France encouraged flagellant orders, but Henry IV forbade them. The Jesuits after a time abandoned this public penance, and the practice died out again, although tertiaries from time to time degenerated into flagellant groups. In Spanish America flagellant orders persisted, usually in defiance of the ecclesiastical disapproval; in New Mexico the Hermanos Penitentes, a flagellant order, is said to practice secret rites today.

flagellants

various Christian sects practising self-punishment. [Christian Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 331–332]

Flagellants

groups of Christians who practised public flagellation as penance. [Christian Hist.: NCE, 959]
References in periodicals archive ?
During Holy Week, however, he turns into a faceless flagellant, whipping his bleeding back while roaming the streets of Pakil barefoot.
Enlightment conceptions of flagellation as innately sexual thus projected backwards onto the religious tradition even as they created new models for flagellant practices in the future.
Indeed its spread may lead to irreversible catastrophe in the same way the flagellants may have hastened the spread of the Bubonic plague in 14th century Europe.
Those who believe the views of the acceptable ideology with too much fervour might, indeed, be comparable to the Flagellants.
Thus, Cohn highlighted an apocalyptic tradition over the ages and nations, which included the Flagellants, who murdered the Jews of Frankfurt in 1349, the 16th-century theocracy of Munster, the leaders of the German peasants' war and the Ranters of the English Civil War.
The waves of the plague were intersper sed with the growing popularity of flagellants, whose "flagellum" became one of the most potent penitential symbols.
Still, it is tempting to draw upon the similiarities in the procession of flagellants that mark both the tenth day of Muharram and Good Friday in such Catholic strongholds as Spain.
Sputnik turned the West into a community of guilt-ridden flagellants in much the way the Black Plague had affected medieval Europeans.
0 magnitude, whereas Don Quixote's attacking some flagellants was given a 7.
The flagellants shed their blood in imitation of Christ and for the remission of their sins.