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flagellants

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.

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flagellants

flagellants

The flagellants were a sect of devout Christians who whipped and otherwise abused themselves as a public demonstration of their faith. Their practice was common in the medieval era, when pilgrimages to holy shrines and sites were undertaken by all Christians who were able. The flagellants took the concept of pilgrimage to an extreme, demonstrating not only their ability to withstand wearying journeys but also physical pain, inflicted in memory of the pain suffered by Christ himself during his trial and crucifixion in ancient Jerusalem. The first flagellants were monks, who appeared in market squares and city streets to do public penance for their sins. Gradually the processions of flagellants grew in size, reaching several thousands in Italy and Germany. The movement reached a peak around the time of the Black Deaththe bubonic plague that killed some one-third of Europe's population and which to many represented the wrath of God for the common people's immoral and unholy way of life. In some places, flagellants sparked violent public demonstrations that threatened disobedience toward civil and religious authorities. For this reason, the church condemned the flagellants and on many occasions they were tried and executed for heresy. The Inquisitiona Catholic tribunal that punished heresyconducted several mass trials of flagellants in the fifteenth century, although it did accept flagellation as a form of penance under guidance. The movement survived among small and secret brotherhoods such as the Penitential Brothers of Spain, who brought their practices to the New World.

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flagellant

flagellant Religious zealot who uses flagellation, or flogging, for disciplinary or devotional purposes. Now almost obsolete, the practice of flagellation has been part of many religions, including those of ancient Greece and Rome, some Native American cultures, and Christianity. In most cases, flagellants have used beatings as a form of penance or purification.

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"flagellant." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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flagellant

flag·el·lant / ˈflajələnt; fləˈjelənt/ • n. a person who subjects themselves or others to flogging, either as a religious discipline or for sexual gratification.

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"flagellant." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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flagellant

flagellant XVI. — L. flagellāns, -ant-, prp. of flagellāre whip (whence flagellate XVII, flagellation XV), f. flagellum, dim. of flagrum scourge; see -ANT.

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"flagellant." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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flagellant

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"flagellant." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 May. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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