The origin of their name is not clearly known. They are said to have been named after their founder, "one Picard of Flanders"; but "Picards" is also explained as a corruption of "Beghards". They were often not distinguished from the Waldensians, and the Catholic Church moved against both of them as heretics. For example, the Inquisitor Heinrich Kramer was empowered to proceed against the Waldensians and Picards in 1500.
Jan Žižka - himself a follower of Jan Hus, who was burned as a heretic by Catholic Church - sent a force of 400 men to exterminate a group of Picards in 1421. The sect members had taken possession of an island in the river Nezarka, and were living in a communistic society in accordance with their beliefs, which included rejection of marriage, holding of wives in common, and the abolition of distinctions of rank and fortune. Despite attempts to suppress the sect, it later grew to a reported size of 80,000 members. Some have said that claims of the Picards stripping naked during worship services and engaging in licentious behavior were untrue or exaggerated.
The Bohemian Brethren of 1457 were also commonly called Picards, and the original Picards may have amalgamated with them.
- A biased definition of the Picards from 1898
- Origin of the Anabaptist Churches, which cites historical mention of the Picards in a letter to Erasmus, and of Picards in Bohemia in a work by Sebastian Franck
- A note on the Picards from the 1928 edition of the Malleus Maleficarum
- Adamites in the Catholic Encyclopedia, with mention of the Picards
- A chapter from Communism in Central Europe with historical facts about the Picards
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