LIBERTINES, the nickname, rather than the name, given to various political and social parties. It is futile to deduce the name from the Libertines of Acts vi. 9; these were " sons of freedmen," for it is vain to make them citizens of an imaginary Libertum, or to substitute (with Beza) Libustines, in the sense of inhabitants of Libya. In a sense akin to the modern use of the term " libertine," i.e a person who sets the rules of morality, etc., at defiance, the word seems first to have been applied, as a stigma, to Anabaptists in the Low Countries (Mark Pattison, Essays, ii. 38). It has become especially attached to the liberal party in Geneva, opposed to Calvin and carrying on the tradition of the Liberators in that city; but the term was never applied to them till after Calvin's death (F. W. Kampschulte, Johann Calvin). Calvin, who wrote against the " Libertins qui se nomment Spirituelz " (1545), never confused them with his political antagonists in Geneva, called Perrinistes from their leader Amadeo Perrin. The objects of Calvin's polemic were the Anabaptists above mentioned, whose first obscure leader was Coppin of Lisle, followed by Quintin of Hennegau, by whom and his disciples, Bertram des Moulins and Claude Perseval, the principles of the sect were disseminated in France. Quintin was put to death as a heretic at Tournai in 1546. His most notable follower was Antoine Pocquet, a native of Enghien, Belgium, priest and almoner (1540-1549), afterwards pensioner of the queen of Navarre, who was a guest of Bucerat Strassburg (1543-1544) and died some time after 1560. Calvin (who had met Quintin in Paris) describes the doctrines he impugns as pantheistic and antinomian.
See Choisy in Herzog-Hauck's Realencyklopadie (1902).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)