1. Epiphanius (Haer., lii.) gives an account of a sect of "Adamiani," that held their religious assemblies in subterranean chambers, both men and women appearing in a state of nature to imitate Adam and Eve, and calling their meetings paradise. Since Epiphanius knew of them only from hearsay, and is himself doubtful whether to make of them a special class of heretics, their existence must be regarded as questionable. There are further unverifiable notices in John of Damascus (Opera, i. 88; following the Anakephalaiosis, attributed to Epiphanius), in Augustine (Haer., lxxxi.), and in Haereticarum fabularum epitome, i. 6).
2. Charges of community of women, ritual child-murder, and nocturnal orgies were brought by the heathen world against the early Christians, and by the latter against various sects of their own number (Montanists, Manicheans, Priscillianists, etc.). Similar accusations were made against almost all medieval sects, notably the Cathari, the Waldensians, the Italian Fraticelli, the heretical flagellants of Thuringia in 1454, and the Brethren of the Free Spirit. All of these allegations are to be regarded with much suspicion. The doctrine of a sinless state, taught by the Brethren of the Free Spirit, and, in other cases, extravagant acts of overwrought mystics may have furnished a basis, which, without doubt, was often elaborated from the accounts of "Adamites" mentioned above.
3. The name "Adamites" has become the permanent designation of a sect of Bohemian Taborites, who, in Mar., 1421, established themselves on an island in the Luschnitz, near Neuhaus, and are said to have indulged in predatory forays upon the neighborhood, and to have committed wild excesses in nocturnal dances. They were suppressed by Ziska and Ulrich von Neuhaus in Oct., 1421. It is probable that they were merely a faction of the Taborites who carried to an extreme their belief in the necessity of a complete separation from the Church and resorted to violence to spread their principles. The charges against their moral character are in the highest degree suspicious. Even in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries certain religious sectaries were persecuted in Bohemia as "Adamites."
4. An Anabaptist sect in the Netherlands about 1580 received the name "Adamites" because they required candidates for admission to appear unclothed before the congregation and thus show that physical desire had no power over them. Members of an Amsterdam congregation who in 1535 ran through the streets naked and crying wo to the godless were probably insane. The followers of Adam Pastor (q.v.) were called "Adamites" from their leader. Silly stories of orgies by so-called devil-worshipers (the "black mass") are sometimes heard at the present time.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: (1) 1. de Beausobre, Dissertation sur les Adamites de Boheme, in J. Lenfant, Histoire de la guerre des Hussites, ii 355-358, Amsterdam, 1731; C. W. F. Walch. Entwurf einer vollstandigen Histoire der Ketzereien, i. 327-335. Leipsic, 1762. (2) J. Nider, Formicarius, III. vi., Cologne, 1470; C. Schmidt, Histoire et doctrine de la secte des Cathares, ii. 150 sqq., Paris, 1849; W. Preger, Geschichte dar deutschen Mystik, i. 207 sqq., 481 sqq., Leipsic, 1874; A. Jundt, Histoire du pantheisme populaire, pp. 48-49, 56, 111 sqq., Paris, 1875; H. Haupt, in ZKG, vi. (1885) 552 sqq.; H. C. Lea, History of the Inquisition, i. 100 sqq., New York, 1888; K. Muller, Kirchengeschichte, i. 610, Freiburg. 1892. (3) J. Dobrowsky, Geschichte der bohmischen Pikardan und Adamiten, in Abhandlungen der bohmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften von 1788, pp.300-343; K. Hofler, Geschichschreiber der hussitischen Bowegung in Bohmen, i. 452.,499 sqq. (Fontes rerum Austriacarum, I. ii., Vienna, 1856). ii. 336, .345 (ib. I. vi., 1865); F. Palacky, Geschichte von Bohmen, iii. 2, 227 sqq., 238 sqq., Prague, 1851, iv. 1 (1857), 462; A. Gindely, Geschichte der bohmischen Bruder, i. 18, 36, 56-57, .97-98, Prague, 1856; Beausobre, ut sup.; J.Goll, Quellen und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der bohmischen Bruder, i. 119, Prague, 1878; ii. (1882) 10 sqq.; H. Haupt, Waldenserthum und Inquisition im sudostlichen Deutschland, pp.23, 109, note 1, Freiburg, 1890. (4) Prateolus, De vitis haereticorum, 1, Cologne, 1569; C. Schlusselburg, Catalogus haereticorum, xii. 29. Frankfort, 1599; F. Nippold, in ZHT, xxxiii. (1863) 102; C. A. Cornelius, in Abhandlungen of the Royal Bavarian Academy, Historische classe, xi. 2, 67 sqq., Munich, 1872; Natalis Alexander, Hist. eccl., xvii. 183, Paris, 1699; J. Bois, Le Satanisme et la magie, ib. 1895.