Marguerite Porete is burned by the Inquisition. Thousands of her sisters and brothers are burned by the Inquisition. The Church is determined to keep Europe Christian, if need be by depopulating it.
This reign of terror is not perpetrated by radicals, extremists, revolutionaries. It is perpetrated by the serious and solid people, the authorities, the doctors of theology and the bishops, the royal councillors and mayors. And it is not a sudden outburst, a single event, but an ongoing process of institutionalized murder.
Europeans who do not see Marguerite Porete's light have less reason to exult than the persecuted radicals. Life outside the Temple is a vale of tears, a wilderness traversed by greedy armies of sinful men tearing each other to shreds. And the Temple itself gives no shelter, offers no salvation; the Temple is nothing but a chamber of grizzly instruments of torture.
Europeans fleefrom the Church, from Europe, from themselves, in ever greater numbers. Former crusaders against Muslim infidels establish themselves in Muslim mercantile webs on the Mediterranean's islands, on the Maghreb's shore's, on the Levant. Europeans rush to become what their hated enemies were. They rush to be anything other than what they are. Meaning, freedom and community are elsewhere, and henceforth Europeans will keep reaching elsewhere for them.
Europeans are already looking for America, long before they "discover" or name the world across the Ocean. They are fleeing because Europe is an empty pit, it is the Inquisition's dungeon.
Later apologists will speak of Europeans being eager to spread their Culture, their Way of Life. If by culture we mean the ways and wisdom of communities of free human beings, Europe is no culture and has no culture. The last Europeans who have culture are radicals burned by the Inquisition. What's left is Civilization, something very different from culture. Civilization is a humanly meaningless web of unnatural constraints, it is the organization of repression within the entrails of Leviathan. Civilization is the "culture" of a Leviathan's springs and wheels. And Europeans know that their states are not communities, their laws for the maintenance of civility are not a culture, and their imposed tasks are not ways of free human beings, even if they name the tasks "callings." They seek Culture by learning Greek and Latin and reading works from far away and long ago.
The frenzied rush away from one's self is the exact opposite of what happened in communities of free human beings. In such communities, the goal was to realize one's self, to become everything one could be, and to insert the fully-developed self into a meaningful cosmic context. Communities which gave individuals such meaningful context had, or were, cultures.
The de-populated Europe of the later Crusades, already turning into a spring or a wheel, rushes headlong from where and and from what he is to something completely different, to something new, to America. The unnamed goal is still nothing more than a mythical place in a Scandinavian saga and a closely guarded secret of Basque cod fishermen. But the European is already discovering little Americas in Muslim silver, in Senegalese gold, in Indian spices and in Chinese silks and porcelains. Wealth from trade enables him to buy what he no longer is. We've seen that even a serf who turns merchant and amasses enough wealth can make himself as free a Frank as his ancestors, at least in name.
* * *
The ever-more frequent and ever-longer wealth-seeking voyages of Venetian and Genoese vessels stir up the balances of the Biosphere, and not only those which the merchants intend to stir up. The ships return to Genoa and Marseilles with more than foreign gold and spices. They return with foreign rats.
Rats are not new in Europe. But the rats that come off the ships bring something Europeans are not prepared for, something their bodies are unable to resist. And the newly risen towns teeming with former serfs aspiring to be noblemen by passing through burgherdom give the visitor a favorable social context in which to do its lethal work.
This visitor, an unintended consequence of foreign commerce, is a mass murderer even more formidable than the Inquisition. Known later as Bubonic Plague, but described by contemporaries as Death itself, mounted and armed with a scythe, this newcomer of Europe kills one third of the subcontinent's population in its first attack.
Europeans eventually acquire immunities which enable the Plague bacillus to lodge in human homes without destroying them, immunities acquired earlier by the visiting rats that carry the bacillus to Europe. In other words, Europeans become carriers of the bacillus. But this acquisition takes many generations.
In a much earlier outbreak of a different Plague, when Roman legions stirred up other balances, a vast proportion of adult Romans died of Smallpox over a period of several generations before Romans became carriers of Smallpox and only children died of it. So also the later Europeans continue to die of the Plague in vast numbers for several generations.
Of the two killers decimating Europe's population, the Inquisitioncarries off fewer victims than the initial outbreak of Bubonic Plague, but the Plague is more democratic. They killer from abroad carries off militants of houses of voluntary poverty as well as officials of the Catholic Church, poor zeks as well as wealthy Burghers, serfs as well as Knights.
Some of the radicals think the Plague brings the end, the Last Judgement. They think nature, Mother Earth, the Divinity, is at last turning against the Leviathanic claws and tentacles tearing her hair and rending her bowels. This turns out to be wishful thinking. Mother Earth may well be capable of such a feat, but for the time being she gives no indication of such an intention.
The European Leviathan actually emerges strengthened by the Plague, and not only by the gradual acquisition of immunization.
In a community of free human beings, the outbreak of Plague would bring unmitigated disaster. But a Leviathan is an inverted community. Its His-Story is a sequence of human disasters. The human beings trapped in a Leviathan are mirror image of their disasters. In a Leviathan, as its inmates succintly and cynically observe, one man's loss is another's gain.
Merchants lose many of their customers. But they also lose many of their competitors, and this is very important to them. They've been clamoring to expel Jewish competitors for several generations. Latter merchants will say, with Christian veracity and with tongues in cheeks, that competition is the driving force of trade, but they will know perfectly well that monopoly is the driving force.
The decimation of competitors is not all the surviving Burghers get from the Plague.
Just as the rhythm of natural catastophes shaped the living activities of the first Sumerians, the removal and isolation of Plague victims shapes the civil institutions of European towns.
The bureaucracies of health and sanitation as well as the places of preventive detention and the quarantine wards will survive after Europeans cease to be victims and become carriers of the Plague. The places vacated by Plague victims will be filled with visionaries whose poverty will not then be voluntary. The civil bureaucracies will enable Burghers to carry on the work of the Inquisition in the name of Sanity, Rationality, Health and Medicine.
The Burghers think themselves peaceful and quiet, and they want their towns to run as peacefully and quietly as clocks where nothing stirs but the springs and wheels of commerce. This is of course wishful thinking, since the commerce itself continues to stir up the Biosphere and to provoke violent responses from human subjects who resist being reduced to springs and wheels. The Burghers' wishful thinking will eventually lead them to try to man their clocklike towns with work-machines or Robots which are themselves products of the Burghers' factories.
Burghers want to be what they are and where they are no more than other Europeans. Their present is a mere passage from a miserable past to a noble future. Their later doctrine of Progress will turn every present place into a mere vehicle flying through time to a future place.
* * *
We heard someone ask: Who would ever want to leave the amenities of Civilization and return to a Primitive state of nature? We can now see that the questioner is Leviathan itself, simulating a human voice. Human beings, even those encased in the most formidable Civilizer among Leviathans, try with all their might to burrow, run and even fly out of the accumulating rubble of amenities burying them alive. And not just the radicals among them. All of them.
The radicals are merely more explicit than others about their desire to leave. And the radicals survive both plagues. Decimated by domestic Inquisitors and by rats from abroad, the insurgency actually picks up momentum.
Cultivators of fields in every part of Europe rebel against the replacement of customary dues by the onerous obligations imposed by commercializing landlords and greedy priests.
News of the uprisings is carried everywhere by wandering radicals, more quickly than later newspapers will carry such news and without the distortions and censorship that will be imposed by newspaper reporters, editors and owners.
In Flanders, weavers who have for generations been clothing European Burghers and Knights while themselves becoming denuded, rebel against the entire coalition of priests, nobles, patricians, merchants and master craftsmen arrayed against them. The rebelling zeks seize the palaces of the powerful and try to destroy the power of the civil institutions, forming themselves into associations or brotherhoods they call Compagnonades. Attacked by Leviathanic armies, the associated weavers defend themselves by resorting to a Guti or Moravian type league headed by a military strongman.
The cloth merchants shrewdly transfer their investments to England, where the King promises iron protection and where the merchants expect to find zeks more docile than the Flemings. Flemish weavers are practiced insurgents; in an earlier uprising they hung priests, seized the properties of the Church and distributed the wealth of the otherworldly institution among the poor.
The cloth merchants are disappointed with England. The channel has not kept either the news or the radicals themselves froom reaching Eurasia's westernmost islands.
Even a dignitary of Oxford University has been speaking of Churchmen as pimps and of the Pope as Antichrist. This professor, Wyclif by name, has no more use for the All-embracing Church than any of the radicals. He is not himself a radical, and he is insistently Christian, but he considers the entire hierarchy of priests, bishops and popes as well as the entire machinery of salvation by absolution, in other words the entirety of institutionalized Christianity from Constantine's day to his own, a vast hoax.
Anticipating the English Reformation, Wyclif considers nation-states the only worthy type of Leviathan, and he would break up the Universal Church into various little churches, each loyal to the civil rulers of the national realm, each concerned with the spiritual wellbeing of the realm's subjects and not with the business of amassing wealth.
Radicals spread news of the professor's lectures, and even descendants of the founders of Europe's first nation-state flock from Moravia to Oxford to hear Wyclif. The students, less committed to Christianity and respectability than the Oxford professor, mingle with the people who, in the wishful thinking of the Flemish cloth merchants, were expected to be more docile than the radical weavers of Flanders.
To the merchants' dismay and the students delight, the English are more radical than the outspoken Oxford lecturer, are in fact as well informed as any continental Beguines or Brethren of the Free Spirit. What's more, the English radicals are not a few visionaries who move from town to town in couples. They are more numerous than anywhere on the continent.
All of England seems to rise up against Leviathan, peasants as well as artisans, even poor priests. And the rebels know what they don't want as well as what they do want. They don't want Civilization, which they call Usurpation. They don't want the forests to be swallowed by gentle lords nor the lands by gentle priests nor the harvests by gentle merchants. They don't want to serve or clothe or feed the networks of usurpers who grow ever gentler from the labor of the denuded zeks and serfs.
The poor priests, called Lollards, go among the rebels with Wyclif's English translation of the Book, and read aloud about a place called Eden where there are no priests or lords or merchants, where human beings were kin and shared all things in common.
This Eden is not as distant to the English as it will become. The English may not remember the first pregenitors, but they do remember the usurpation of egalitarian conditions. Many of the usurpations are as recent as the Norman invasion and are still going on.
Eden is what the rebels want, and they are not asking the King to grant it to them; they are determined to get it with the strength of their own arms.
The rebels march across England to Canterbury and London. Countryside and towns empty as the cultivators and the journeymen, the unskilled, the unemployed and the wanderers join the Eden-bound insurgents. They head for the prisons, storm them, and welcome the liberated inmates to their midst. One of the inmattes is a poor priest called John Ball, a bard incarcerated for his songs. This bard succinctly summarizes the entire program of the insurrection with the couplet,
When Adam delved and Eve span
Who was then the gentleman?
This Lollard warns,
Good folk, things cannot go well in England nor shall until all things are in common and
there is neither villein nor noble, but all of us are of one condition.
Readers would do well to re-read his this warning, for it does not announce a Utopia in which all are villeins-or workers.
The nightmarish will to universalize labor camps, which will later pass for radicalism, is what the English rebels are against. The English insurgents announce the end of the Leviathanic world, not its completion. The condition the insurgents want is not a universal villeinage but universal freedom; it is the condition of communities of free human beings in the state of nature, unencumbered by Leviathanic separations and usurpations.
The rebels say common people can cast off their yoke if they will; they can gather the wheat and burn the tares. The wheat is Eden. The tares are priests and lords, lawyers and judges, masters and merchants.
The tares are not the persons but the roles, the masks, the armors. One of the rebels, the outspoken Wat Tyler, even invites King Richard the Second to cast off his mask and armor and join humanity. But the King's mask will not come off. Royal agents murder the hospitable Wat Tyler. And now the rebels turn their arms against the persons with sticky masks and armors, including the Archbishop.
No Flemish merchant will again hope to find in England docile hands for concentrated cloth production. Henceforth investors will venture out in the company of the King's armed guards and hangmen.
Uprisings repeatedly shake Richard's England until the monarch and many of his dignitaries are forced out. The usurping successor fares no better; the insurgents are not up in arms to replace a Plantagenet with a Lancaster. In fact, during the first Lancaster's reign, many of the gentler people accomplish the feat of burning off masks and armors; landed Lords as well as wealthy townsmen cast their lot with the rebels.
England remains hot with insurgency until the second Lancaster, Shakespeare's Prince Hal, forsakes the drunken Falstaff and resorts to foreign war, the most ancient method of quelling domestic rebellion. The fifth Henry leads armed Englishmen across the channel to spend their strength and their lives warring against French priests, lords, merchants and other gentlemen.
The year the English overrun Normandy and reach Paris, armed Portuguese merchants conquer the Muslims of Ceuta and install themselves in the once-Phoenician outpost on Africa's northern coast, on the side of Gibraltar facing the Atlantic.
* * *
English and Portuguese armed men will go abroad, but Moravian students have in the meantime left England and returned home, some inspired by Wyclif's lectures, others by insurgents' dreams and deeds.
The returning students, diplomas in hand and rebellion in their hearts, do not start the fire that begins to rage in Prague and quickly spreads to all of Europe; they merely add kindling to a fire that is already blazing.
Neither England nor radicalism are strangers to Bohemia-Moravia. The English ceased to be strangers when the sister of Bohemia's King Wenceslas became English Richard's Queen Anne. And radicalism has been at home in Central Europe ever since Slavs sought to protect themselves from the onslaught of Charlemagne's armies. When Bogomilism first reached southern France, Cosmas of Prague was already reminding Bohemians and Moravians that they had not always lived in the entrails of an Imperial Leviathan, that their ancestors had shared all things in common and lived in communities without thieves or poor people.
The radicalism has until now been confined to the words of outspoken individuals who spread news of Albigensians and Free Spirits to Christendom's easternmost frontiers, and to the deeds of stubborn peasants who refused to pay dues and tithes to Imperial and Papal hierarchies. Waldensian and other refugees from Provence have carried Bogomilism almost full circle to the neighbors of the Serbs and Bulgars who have in the meantime been swallowed by the Ottoman Turkish Leviathan.
Neither Church nor Empire nor Commerce are held in high esteem by country and townspeople who sing a rhymed chronicle contrasting the ways of the ancient community with the commercial Imperial institutions, who applaud Jan Milic of Kromeriz when he speaks of the Church as the Antichrist, and who agree with Jan of Brno when he says private property is the original sin.
Even the most erudite strains of radicalism have been as much at home in Prague as in Oxford ever since royal Wenceslas's and Anna's father Charles, anointed Emperor by the Pope, planted the Holy Roman Empire's only university in Prague.
Central Europe is as ready to withdraw from Leviathan's entrails as England when the witnesses of England's insurrection return home, and the only question is when and how.
The Pope stirs up the burning embers by ordering more funds to be raised for the Church through the sale of indulgences and relics. The University in Prague is a treasure chest of relics, including Jesus's diapers, nails from the cross, even a supply of the Virgin's milk.
But the University's Rector, a man called Jan Hus, has exceptional integrity for a Catholic dignitary, and some of his appointees and associates are outspoken radicals. One of these, Nicholas of Dresden, call sthe Church the Babylonian Whore of the Apocalypse, "drunken with the blood of the saints," an imitation of Ceasar and not of Christ. Another, Jakoubek of Stribro, says the ways of the ancient human community were Christian ways, not the institutions of the Catholic Empire.
Rector Hus refuses to raise funds for the Roman Pontifex, condemns the sale of relics and indulgences, and publicly calls the Pope a Simoniac, a merchant of spiritual goods, in other words a religious pimp.
The Pontifex retorts by excommunicating the Rector, and the Papal authorities of Prague execute three radical students.
These acts fan a fire which will at frist only singe the Church, but which will in time ruin the Roman Vicar's all-embracing Empire.
The executed youths are immediately venerated as martyrs. The people of Prague attack priests and town magistrates.
News of the events is carried to the countryside and then to Hungary, Poland, Lithuania. The words of Hus, abbreviated to slogans, appeal to peasants, merchants and noblemen. Pay no tithes to Simoniacs! Seize the properties of the Church! Burghers and nobles hear the call to nationalize and appropriate vast tracts of Church land.
Peasants and zeks hear something quite different. Long-repressed desires and dreams add fuel to a fire that burns ever more deeply into Leviathan's very core, and soon the movement is far more radical than the University Rector or most of his associates.
The honest Hus journeys to a Church council in Constance to disown what he did not say and to defend what he did say. Like many of the Conspiracy Trial victims of a later age, he is still loyal to the power that condemns him. He trusts the safe-conduct given to him by Emperor Sigismund, and he thinks his dignified colleagues gathered in Constance, philisophical theologians like Jean Gerson, Pierre d'Ailly and Pawel Wlodkowicz, are men of his integrity.
Wlodkowicz, in fact, came to Constance soon after Poles and Lithuanians devastated an army of Teutonic Knights in a battlefield near Tannenberg. The Cracow Rector wants the Pope to recognize accomplished fact and to deprive the Teutonic Order of its power over Eastern Europe. He argues that the Catholic Knights have no right to conquer peoples they consider infidels.
But Wlodkowicz and his reasonable colleagues lack the patience to hear Hus's reasons. They owe their positions to the Church and not to free communities. They do not see how anyone could reasonably consider Church dignitaries like themselves cruel, powerful, luxurious, fornicating, gluttonous Simoniacs. They overlook the Emperor's phoney safe-conduct and order their former colleague burned.
The fire that burns Hus sets all Europe ablaze, transforming a theological dispute into a social revolution so far-reaching it makes its subsequent French and Russian sequels seem like conservative, if terribly bloody, putsches.
The associates of the martyred Rector continue to wage their theological struggle from their desks in Charles's University, but the rest of Moravia's population turns to the implementation of desires and dreams their martyr had disowned at the Council that condemned him.
Journeymen, helpers, servants, beggars, prostitutes, thieves and slum dwellers join with cultivators of the earth to recover the lost community of kinship and love. A population literally withdraws in mass from the centers of Leviathanic power, the cities and agricultural estates. Determined to make a new start, people appropriate uninhabited hillsides, riversides, forests, and at each site they launch a community of kin where all things are shared in common, where there are neither bosses nor workers, neither nobles nor serfs, where agents of the Church cannot even enter.
Yet even while recovering communities and freedoms which once actually existed on those very hillsides and in those very forests, revolutionary Bohemians and Moravians, like other Europeans, still think themselves other than what they are, and elsewhere. At a hillside near Prague, the radicals of the newly-risen community consider themselves Hebrew contemporaries of the Apostles, and they call their hillside Mount Tabor, after a place in the Levant where some expected Jesus to reappear.
But the Taborites are not waiting for Jesus to reappear. Each member of the newly risen community is already her or his own Savior, and even those who were blind and mum until they reached Tabor begin to see and to express their visions soon after their arrival.
Former Waldensians among the Taborites, themselves further radicalized by the events, erode whatever awe for ordained priests and officials still lingers in the newly-liberated communitarians.
The Waldensians reject all religious orders as worthless. They say the Pope and all his cardinals as well as the Emperor and all kings, dukes, princes and bourgeois magistrates are usurpers and imposters. They say the only Purgatory is the poverty in which so many people are forced to live. They say Christians are idolaters because they prostrate themselves to a cross and to images of saints.
The anti-Christianity of the Cathar-influenced Waldensians will remain exotic to most Taborites, but repeated confrontations with Christianity's secular arms will make a growing number of Taborites close kin to Bogomils.
* * *
News of the Bohemian and Moravian communities is carried to every part of Europe by the informal network of wandering Beguines and their companions. Despite English King Henry's war, which turns all roads of Gaul into death traps, people who hear the news make pilgrimages from every corner to the Taborite communities.
Among the pilgrims are numerous Flemish Beghards from Lille, Tournai and Brussels. The Taborites call them Pikarti.
These radicals, probably former weavers who recognize their own desires and dreams in the Moravian communities, settle among the Taborites and introduce elements which further deepen the witdrawal from Leviathanic social life. They reject not only authority in all its forms, whether religious or secular, but also repression in all forms, particularly in the form of dehumanizing labor. If cloth-making requires the concentration of human beings in sunless prisons, then free spirits can dispense with clothing as readily as they can dispense with priests and nobles.
The Pikarti--and soon numerous Taborites are Pikarti, also called Adamites--remember or rediscover the freedom of human communities in the state of nature. Expressing their dreams in Zarathustrian symbols acquired from Manicheans or Joachites or even from the testaments themselves, the Adamites expect the last Leviathan to collapse as soon as all free spirits withdraw from it to the five liberated cities on the mountains.
When that day comes, none will need to work:
You will have such an abundance of everything that silver, gold and money will only be a nuisance to you.
People will again enjoy nature's bounty as Adam and Eve once did. There is no need to work in the meantime either, while waiting for the day of the final collapse, nor is there any need to starve:
You will not pay rents to your lords any more, nor be subject to them, but will freely and undisturbedly possess
their villages, fish-ponds, meadows, forests, and all their domains.
In other words, the Adamites hasten the arrival of the egalitarian community in the state of nature by redistributing the world's monopolized bounty through plundering raids on the domains of the rich.
The expectation of the imminent collapse of the last beast is not mere wishful thinking. In our day such expectations, couched in the language of our time, will be called revolutionary theories, and some people who are totally immersed in the ruling language will even give such prognostications the name Scientific.
The expectations are not wishful thinking because the revolutionaries do not wait for the stars to implement their wishes. On the contrary, the revolutionaries cast themselves in the role of the beast's beheaders. Their prognostications are commitments, statements of the revolutionaries' intentions.
* * *
And the Holy Roman beast does in fact collapse in the face of "the five cities," as the Taborites refer to their league of more than five communities.
When Taborites learn that Emperor Sigismund, the one who gave Hus a safe-conduct to death by burning, intends to install himself in the seats of Imperial power, the radicals overthrow the government in Prague. Taborites converge on Prague from their hilltop communities and take over the guilds, which promptly install themselves in all the seats of power.
There is not much fighting. The Emperor has few loyal followers in Prague. The few who do defend Church or Empire, whether bishops or imperial dignitaries, are killed by being thrown through the windowns of their offices.
Emperor Sigismund appeals to the Pope, who proclaims a Crusade against the Infidels in the heart of Central Europe. This extends the era of the Crusades into the age of gunpowder and of the Italian Quatrocento, the so-called Renaissance; it makes the last Crusaders contemporaries of Portugal's overseas commercial empire.
The Imperial army sets up extermination camps at various castles and begins to liquidate captured Taborites as earlier Crusaders liquidated Albigensians. But the Crusaders do not fare as well against Taborites as they once fared against much more pacific Albigensians. Five Imperial armies of Crusaders from Germany, Hungary and even France attack the leagued "five cities" of the Taborites, and each of the Crusading armies is demolished as decisively as the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Tannenberg.
Later military analysts of the French Revolution will figure out that the two sides are unevenly matched, and that the weaknesses are all on the side of the Imperials. The noble German and Hungarian estate owners, with their bands of gallant retainers and their serfs recruited into a military corvee, are relics from another age. They simply cannot stand up against a popular uprising, against an armed population fighting for life, for home, and for a beautiful tomorrow.
The Taborites fight furiously, viciously. They observe none of the gentlemen's rules of war. They are the first to resort to gunpowder. Taborite armies run the Crusaders down to Hungary, Silesia, Saxony and Thuringia, and even chase Imperial enemies into Lusatia and Brandenburg.
The Crusade against Central European Wyclifites, Hussites, Taborites and other Unbelievers is a sequence of Catholic defeats. The Pope will not proclaim any more Crusades. The so-called Hungarian Crusades against Ottomans are a defense of Hungary's eastern frontier from Turkish perpetrators of an Islamic holy war.
The Crusading ear ends. Less than three generations later, Central European nobles, many of them grandsons of Crusaders against Wyclifites and Hussites, will extirpate Catholicism from their domains by expropriating the Church of it land and wealth. From the standpoint of the All-embracing Church, the blow will not be less deadly because it is dealt by the rulers of nation-states and not by free communities.
* * *
The communities of the "five cities" are not defeated by the combined armies of the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire. The story is much sadder. The Taborites are at war for more than a generation. They are defeated by their own military victories. They suffer the same fat as the Guti who ganged up against Sumerian militarists in the Fertile Crescent, as their own Moravian ancestors who formed a league against Avars and then against Franks.
The self-defeat of the Taborites is not a simple affair, and it is not predetermined. The Taborites are actually more conscious of the predicament than later resisters, and the initial Taborites are far less addicted to violence than most other Europeans.
The conservative Hussites among them, who are mainly poor priests and play a role similar to that of Lollard priests in the earlier English uprising, abhor armed confrontations, and the radical Waldensians so prominent among the Taborites are principled pacifists who consider war the main Leviathanic institution to be overcome by the newly-risen communities of sisters and brothers.
The most violent of the early Taborites are the radical Adamites, for whom the peaceful Eden of the imminent future justifies every present atrocity. In the view of the Adamites, "all the evil ones who remain outside the mountains will be swallowed up in one moment": all the evil doers are to be killed, all the houses destroyed, every last entity of the old world to be wiped out.
But the Adamites cannot wage a war. They can at most carry out successful raids. They reject all institutions, including the institutions required by a functioning war machine. The Adamites combine traits of those we call guerrilla bands and terrorists. Militarily the Adamites are the weakest of the Taborites.
It is not Adamite violence that spreads throughout the Taborites movement. When Taborites organize their military institution, they simultaneously rid themselves of the Adamite radicals in their midst. The Taborites who organize the invincible armies that will hold Crusading Europe's entire military machine at bay are associates of the peace-minded Hussites, not of the violent Adamites.
There seem to be two movements which pull in diametrically opposed directions. The first movement is a withdrawal from the entrails of Leviathan, the second is a self-defense agaisnt the monster's attacks.
The withdrawal movement is a time of self-abandon, of mask and armor removal. Daring radicals and visionaries are embraced as kin, every new sect has its day, all are heard and absorbed, and everyone ventures into undiscovered realms.
All this abruptly ends when the self-defense begins. Self-abandon gives way to a new rigidity, masks and armors are put on, exotic visionaries are distrusted, then ostracized, finally eliminated.
Most of the Taborites abhor violence. Tabor is itself a refuge from the daily violence of Leviathanic constraint. In Tabor, as a radical puts it, people "cannot be commanded by anyone, or excommunicated, or forbidden anything; neither the pope nor any archbishop nor anyone alive has authority over them for they are free."
But the Taborites abhor the prospect of a reimposition of Leviathanic constraint by the Empire's armies even more than they abhor violence. And the Imperial Crusaders do not even promise to reimpose former constraints; they are out to exterminate the Taborites.
Pacifist Waldensians may foresee the consequences of organizing a military self-defense, but they are not likely to stop people from defending not only their human gains but their very lives.
The preparations for the first armed confrontation do not announce a reversal of Tabors direction, an end to the ever-deeper movement of liberation, a turn toward militarism. No lordly generals are invited to institute military machine among the Taborites. Peasants with revelations, wandering radicals and poor Hussite priests, namely the very militants who have tended to monopolize discourse and define priorities all along, are the people who call for and organize the defense.
Later generals like Jan Zizka, Zbynek of Buchov and others are initially nothing more than Lollards, poor preachers. Zizka, for example, is a peasant who served in the army of a Polish lord at the Battle of Tannenberg. Even pacifists hail the battle that put an end to centuries of Teutonic violence. The fact that victorious Polish and Lithuanian nobles will impose over northeastern Europe the very serfdom imposed by the defeated Teutons is not yet known.
Zizka does not seek to reimpose any of the visible trappings of a knightly military organization. He remains poor and unadorned as any Hussite priest. Furthermore he's blind. What he gives his fellow-Taborites is not a visible military hierarchy but his inner visions.
Perhaps, if the war had ended after the first battle, the Taborites would have returned to non-military activities, to the problems of living in Paradise on earth, to the problems of reconstituting free communities based on love and kinship.
But the defeat of Sigismund's army at Vishehrad is not the end of the war; it is the beginning. The Emperor's anachronistic army is Leviathan's army and, like the weather of Sumer, it goes on attacking, it goes on threatening to flood and destroy the "five cities." Leviathan is nothing but a machine for grinding out armies. And the Taborites go on defending themselves, forming an alliance of communities similar to that of their Moravian ancestors, placing their trust in military leaders.
The blind military visionary Zizka, himself a peasant, does not try to transform the peasants and former zeks of Tabor into trained legions of armored Knights. He urges people familiar with flagellants to beat down the enemy with iron-tipped flails. He urges peasants to go to battle with their farm wagons, and to mount cannons on the wagons.
Even numerically superior forces of Crusading Knights are cut to pieces by weapons that will later be called Tanks, and the combined military might of Church and Empire fails to make a single breach through a wall of armored farm wagons.
The Taborites, like the Sumerians, become a mirror image of what they're fighting. They turn into an impregnable fortress. And they impose on themselves all the constraints the invading Leviathan fails to impose on them.
The defenders of Tabor are peasants and townspeople as well as Hussite nobles who appropriate the lands of ousted Churchmen and Catholic nobles.
Adamites fail to distinguish friendly Hussite nobles from hostile Catholic ones, and they plunder the estates of allies as often as those of enemies. Adamites as well as other radicals remain committed to freedom from forced even though the bounty that could support free communities is on the private estates of barons and burghers.
While Adamites plunder the barons and urge peasants to abandon their sinful misery, Zizka and other military men negotiate with those very barons to provision the Taborite armies with produce created by the forced labor of the peasants on the estates.
Defense remains a priority in Tabor, and the Adamites clearly disrupt Tabor's defensive apparatus. Soon the exotic but attractive Adamites become exotic but dangerous in the eyes of many Taborites, especially in the eyes of Hussite priests who associate more readily with Hussite Barons than with anti-Christian Pikarti.
Hussite priests elect an elder to arbitrate theological disputes. In practice this elder is a bishop who is charged with judging the correctness of the views of erring Taborites. The Hussite priesthood becomes a church. The Bishop's judgments are excommunications. Adamites, Free Spirits, Beguines, Beghards and their numerous sympathizers are condemned as heretics, and several hundred are expelled from Tabor.
The radicals go to forests and river islands to found free communities of their own, communities without bishops or forced labor or permanent armies, and some apparently without clothing. They do not leave books about themselves, and will be known only from the reports of their maligners, reports which will depict the Adamites as numerous, vivacious, and restrained by few if any inhibitions.
One of the radicals, a priest named Martin Huska, allows himself to be lured back to Tabor to defend his views. Like Jan Hus at Constance, Martin Huska remains loyal to the institution that condemns him. Like Hus, he defends his views, in Huska's case the anti-Christian view that "Paul's institution of gathering in the Church will not be observed." Instead of gathering in a Church, the Adamites gather at meals or banquets which they call love feasts. Love play and sex are integral to the feast, since the Adamites reject every trace of the Christian doctrine of Sin.
Also like Jan Hus, Martin Huska disowns practices he never advocated, such as the plundering raids of the Adamites. This is all his judges want to hear. Huska is imprisoned, and General Zizka himself, allied with a baron, leads a Taborite army against a nearby settlement of Adamites.
The violent raiders resist fiercely, but the violence of the Adamites is no match for the institutionalized violence of the Taborites.
The invincible Taborites then launch a crusade, or a terror, against the remaining communities of radicals expelled from "the five cities." Only the names of some of the Adamite victims survive, names like Maria, Rohan the blacksmith, Peter Kanish.
Radicals who survive the terror return to wandering, in couples or in small groups, as Beguines or Beghards; some join with disillusioned Waldensians. Martin Huska, like Jan Hus before him, is burned by his fellow disputants, his judges.
Disencumbered of its radicals, Tabor goes on to defeat Europe's last armies of Crusaders, first under General Zizka, then under General Prokop.
But the victorious Tabor is not the Kingdom of Heaven, it is no longer even a league of free cities. Tabor is now an independent city-state provisioned by a dependent countryside. It has more in common with the Leviathan it opposes than with the free communities its radicals announced . It may be the first modern state with a popular army driven be patriotism instead of fealty, but it has ceased to be a beacon of freedom.
The extermination of radicals is followed by the extirpation of radicalism. The initial heterodoxy of the "five cities" is replaced by an increasingly narrow and conservative orthodoxy. Defense remains the priority, and for its sake, Taborite priests keep narrowing even their religious differences from Hussite barons, merchants and Prague theologians whose religion differs from Catholicism only in the meaning given to the rite of drinking wine and eating bread.
The final confrontation is not between Taborites and Catholic Crusaders, but between Taborites who merge with the conservative Hussites and Taborites who only now decide that the compromises have gone far enough. It is too late for such a decision. The resisters have nothing to stand on but the previous day's compromises.
During a generation of spectacular victories, Tabor as a community of free human committed slow suicide. The Reformation of Christianity has begun.
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The vision of a reconstituted community of free human beings in the state of nature survives among radicals ejected from Tabor, who carry the vision first of all to Germany, where most of the anti-Taborite armies were recruited.
Soon there are thousands, even tens of thousands of German-speaking peasants who call each other Brothers and Sisters, refuse to pay taxes or tithes, and insist that all wood and water and fields and pastures be enjoyed by all, as they were before the Leviathanic usurpation. Massive insurrections shake Europe from Holland to Hansa.
European scribes will concentrate on the Progress of their Leviathan in order to mask the fact that the European Leviathan, like the ancient Assyrian, is in a continual state of decomposition. Withdrawal is the human response to Progress, and Leviathan's own agents know it. Every form of immersion in Leviathan's entrails will wear a human face by simulating withdrawal, as in Sumer.
The Church will soon cease to be Europe's Temple, but Europe will not therefby cease to have a Temple. The successors to the Church will, if anything, be more Sumerian than the Church.
Heirs of the first Taborites will at last shatter the catholic dominion of the Church, but heirs of the last Hussites will deflect the blow. A Luther and a Calvin will repeat, this time consciously, the Franciscan feat of channeling potential resisters into a cul-de-sac.
But by then the heirs of Europe's last Crusaders will already have launched the cruellest, bloodiest and most bizarre simulated withdrawal in all Leviathanic His-story. By the time self-styled Protestants gang up with nobles and burghers to eject every trace of freedom, kinship and community from their simulated withdrawal, counter-reformed Catholics are already devouring the last remaining freedom, kinship and community on the planet, they are appropriating what they lack by eating it.
Before long, near-sighted heirs of Tabor's visionaries will constitute themselves into an Order of United Moravian Brethren and will carry a sickly memory of Adamite love feasts to the last genuine love feasts celebrated by the last victims of Europe's deflected desire for freedom, kinship and community.
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