Bohemian Non- Catholics and Languedoc nouveaux convertis: Prophetic and Sectarian Movements in a Comparative Perspective
The culminating confessional rivalries in the early 17th century provided fertile ground in much of Europe, especially Central Europe, for visions of the imminent End of the World and Christ's Second Coming. This paper offers a new perspective for the well-known topic and compares the eschatological visions in the 17th and 18th centuries of the Bohemian non-Catholics and emigrants on the one hand and the secret Huguenots on the other. While the belligerent apocalyptic visions in the Bohemian environment saw a turning point and an opportunity to overthrow the Antichrist in the imminent coming of an allied Protestant ruler destined by God and this continued until the end of the 18th century, the French Protestant prophecies appealed almost exclusively to the glory of Christ and his rule on Earth. Despite significant differences in the religious practice and historical contexts of the two cases, we observe not only very similar physical manifestations in the prophets' behaviour but also, thanks to these ideas, a renewal of the declining piety of the believers and the reactivation of the underground religious movement. In both environments the apocalyptic visions have been heavily criticized by legal ecclesiastical authorities in exile. Disciplinary interventions against these heterodox ideas had however a completely different result, playing a significant role in the process of legalization of Protestant worship at the end of the period in question.