French counterculture  

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The Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are a Christian denomination believing in poverty and austerity, promoting true poverty, public preaching and the literal interpretation of the scriptures. They originated in the late 12th century (around 1173) as the Poor Men of Lyons, a band organized by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant of Lyon, who gave away his property around 1176 and went about preaching apostolic poverty as the way to perfection.

They went to Rome, where Pope Alexander III blessed their life but forbade preaching (1179) without authorization from the local clergy. They disobeyed and began to teach unorthodox doctrines; they were formally declared heretics by Pope Lucius III in 1184 and by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. In 1211 more than 80 were burned as heretics at Strasbourg, beginning several centuries of persecution. The movement was brutally persecuted during the 12th and 13th centuries and nearly totally destroyed, but the Waldensian Church survives to this day.

Some Waldenses, and other groups seeking to trace their history through the Waldenses, claim that the Waldenses history extends back to the apostolic church, while the mainstream academic view is that the Waldensians were followers of Peter Waldo (or Valdes or Vaudes).


Catharism was a name given to a religious sect with gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France in the 11th Century and flourished in the 12th and 13th Centuries.

Its Manichaean theology held that the physical world was evil and created by Satan, who was taken to be identical with the God of the Old Testament; and that men underwent a series of reincarnations before reaching the pure realm of spirit, the presence of the God of Love described in the New Testament and his messenger Jesus.

The Roman Catholic Church regarded the sect as heretical; faced with the rapid spread of the movement across the Languedoc and the failure of peaceful attempts at conversion, the Church launched the Albigensian Crusade to crush the movement.


In the 16th and 17th centuries, the name Huguenot was applied to a member of the Protestant Reformed Church of France, historically known as the French Calvinists. They were a French counterculture avant la lettre. Used originally as a term of derision which the Huguenots took up as a badge of honour, the derivation of the name Huguenot remains uncertain. The origin of Huguenot beliefs (and perhaps of some of the Huguenots themselves) lies among the Cathars in the medieval past of the eastern Mediterranean.

Notre-Dame Affair

The Notre-Dame Affair was an anti-clericalist intervention performed by members of the radical wing of the Lettrist movement (Michel Mourre, Serge Berna, Ghislain Desnoyers de Marbaix and Jean Rullier), on Easter Sunday, April 9th 1950, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Michel Mourre, dressed in the habit of a Dominican monk and backed by his co-conspirators, chose a quiet moment in the Easter High Mass to climb to the rostrum and declaim before the whole congregation a blasphemous anti-sermon on the death of God, penned by Serge Berna.

Paris Commune

The Paris Commune was a revolutionary and socialist government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March until 28 May 1871. The killing of two French army generals by soldiers of the Commune's National Guard and the refusal of the Commune to accept the authority of the French government led to its harsh suppression by the regular French Army in "La Semaine sanglante" ("The Bloody Week") beginning on 21 May 1871. Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune had significant influence on the ideas of Karl Marx.

May 68

May 1968 (in this context usually spelled May '68) is the name given to a series of events that started with a student strike in France. It turned into a general strike which paralyzed parts of the country and led to the eventual collapse of the de Gaulle government. Most of the protesters espoused left-wing causes, communism or anarchism, though most mainstream leftist parties distanced themselves from the students and worked with the police and government to end the revolt. Many saw the events as an opportunity to shake up the "old society" in many social aspects, including methods of education, sexual freedom and free love. While some of the same leftists who worked against workers and students now call "May '68" a failure from a political point-of-view, it was a significant revolutionary moment in the 20th century.

See also

European counterculture

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "French counterculture" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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