Picaids a Christian sect of heretics which arose in Bohemia in the 15th century. John Picard, the founder of the sect, whence their name, drew after him men and women to whom he promised that he would restore them to the primitive state of innocence wherein man was created. With this pretence he taught them to give themselves up to all impurity, saying that therein consisted the liberty of the sons of God, and all those not of their sect were in bondage. He first published his notions in Germany and the Low Countries, and persuaded many people to go naked, and gave them thename of Adantites (q.v.); and accordingly he assumed the title of New Adam. After this he seized on an island in the river Lausnecz, some leagues from Tabor, the:headquarters of Zisca, where he established himself and his followers. His women were common, but none were allowed to enjoy them without his permission; so that when any man desired a particular woman he carried her to Picard, who gave him leave in these words: 'Go increase, multiply, and fill the earth." At length, however, Zisca, general of the Hussites (famous forrtlis victories over the emperor Sigismond), incensed at their abominations, marched against them, made himself master of their island, and put them all to death except two, whom he spared that he might learn their doctrine.
Such is the account which various writers, relying on the authorities of AEneas Silvius and Varillas, have given of the Picards. Some, however, doubt whetller a sect of this denomination, chargeable with such wild principles and such wild conduct, ever existed. It appears probable that the reproachful representations of the writers just mentioned were calumnies invented and propagated in order to disgrace the Picards, merely because they deserted the communion and protested against the errors of the Church of Rome. Lasitius informs us that Picard, together witlh forty other persons, besides women anti children, settled in Bohemia in the year 1418. Balbinus, the Jesuit, in his Epitome Rerum Bohenmicarum, lib. 2, gives a similar account, and charges on the Picards none of the extravagances or crimes ascribed to them by Svlvius. Schlecta, secretary of Ladislaus, king of Bohemia, in his letters to Erasmus, in which he gives a particular account of the Picards, says that they considered the pope, cardinals, and bishops of Rome as the true antichrists; and the adorers of the consecrated elements in the eucharist as downright idol worshippers. According to this author, the Picards are Vaudois, who fled from persecution in their own country and sought refuge in Bohemia. Beausobre held the same opinion, on the ground that the Vaudois were settled in Bohemia in the year 1178, where some of them adopted the rites of the Greek, and others those of the Latin Church. The former were pretty generally adhered to till the middle of the 14th century, when the establishment of the Latin rites caused great disturbance. At the commencement of the national troubles in Bohemia, on account of the opposition of the papal power, the Picards more publicly avowed and defended their religious opinions; and they formed a considerable body in an island by the river Launitz, or Lausnecz, in the district of Bechin, and, resorting to arms, were defeated by Zisca. See Hardwick, Hist. of the M.A. Church, page 436; Ref. page 95; Mosheim, Church Hist. volume 2; and the references under ADAMITES. (J.H.W.)