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Posted on 02/08/2004 5:32:43 PM PST by drstevej



Learning from the PAST


The Reformation in Münster

A.) The Setting

The city of Münster was the seat of a prince bishopric. Around 1500, the city was largely master of her own affairs, but lacked the status of a free Imperial city. The cathedral chapter resided within the city walls. Münster was the economic center of the Münsterland, i.e. the Upper Stift Münster.

B.) Rothmann and the Early Reformation

A 1521 report states Münster as free of the Lutheran heresy. In 1525 the city experienced unrest, the demands of the dissatisfied included the right to the parish to choose her own preacher. The city council for the moment made concessions which later were rescinded. In 1524, BERND ROTHMANN had begun to preach, in favor of the reformation, outside the city walls. In 1531 he traveled to Wittenberg and STRASSBURG. When he resumed his post as preacher at St. Maurice outside Münster, he had become an adherent of Zwingli's interpretation of the communion. The same year, the Bishop of Münster forbade him to preach. He now moved into town, where the Münsteran protestants installed him as preacher at St. Lamberti. In 1532 the University of Cologne condemned Rothmann's sermons as heretic. The Münster city council had lost control of the situation; protestant preachers were appointed at all the parish churches in the city; iconoclastic riots took place; the cathedral chapter left town. Bishop FRANZ VON WALDECK, residing outside of the city, began to exert pressure by confiscating the property of Münster burghers. The day after Christmas 1532 the latter failed in an attempt to take the bishop prisoner. Negotiations were held; the bishop raised his blockade; on February 14th 1533 he recognized the city adhering to the AUGSBURG CONFESSION. The Catholic church only held the cathedral and the monastery churches.

C.) The Anabaptist Experiment, 1533-1535

In the fall of 1532 the Wassenberg preachers arrived, among them a group of Anabaptists. Rothmann and his supporters in Münster's guilds turned more and more toward Anabaptism. In 1533 a disputation was held in Münster where Rothmann defended Anabaptist thought. The city council outlawed the teaching of Anabaptist doctrine.

In January 1534 the first of several groups of Dutch Anabaptists, headed by JAN VAN LEIDEN arrived in the city; the Anabaptists took control, their opponents left the city. Anabaptists from the surrounding area moved in. An iconoclastic rage destroyed a lot of artwork. A newly elected city council was dominated by Anabaptism sympathizers. The bishop, supported by noblemen from far and wide, laid siege to the city. The Anabaptist regiment, headed by JAN MATTHIJS, declared both Catholics and Lutherans as godless people; all who did not receive adult baptism were expelled from the city. Matthijs introduced the principle of communal property - the parishioners were called upon to give up their possessions, to share them with their neighbors (the Anabaptists were convinced that the apocalypse was imminent). At the occasion of a sortie, Jan Matthijs was killed. Now Jan van Leiden was chosen as King of New Zion, as the city was now called; the city was prepared for defense. Polygamy was practiced (Jan van Leiden had 16 women); resistance within the city was punished by execution.

On May 25th 1535 a traitor opened a gate and the city was taken; the Anabaptist leaders were executed.
For the military aspects of the siege, see MÜNSTER FEUD 1534-1535.

D.) Münster 1535-1558

The majority of the churches were returned to the Catholic community; until 1558 the Lutherans were permitted to share in the use of St. Lambert. The PEACE OF AUGSBURG established the principle that the subjects had to follow their lord in the question of religion. In 1535 the bishop had reasserted his sovereignty over the city. While Anabaptism in the city was broken once and for all, Lutheran practices continued in the city and prince bishopric; even the cathedral chapter was split in factions one of which sympathized with Lutheranism. Bishop JOHANN OF HOYA (1566-1574) implemented the reforms of the COUNCIL OF TRENT. Bishop ERNST OF BAVARIA (1585-1612) began ended the toleration the Lutheran communities had enjoyed since 1531/1535.


TOPICS: General Discusssion
"Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

This thread's focus is the events of Reformation era Münster and especially the theocracy established 1531-1535.

Protestants, Catholics, Anabaptists & others are invited to interact on these events and their meaning. Certainly the concept of tolerance in the 16th century was quite different than in the 21st century.

This and future threads seek to put into historical context the oft debated better known events surrounging the Inquisition and Michael Servetus.

1 posted on 02/08/2004 5:32:44 PM PST by drstevej
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To: Religion Mod; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; jude24; ...
2 posted on 02/08/2004 5:34:23 PM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord; Hermann the Cherusker; TotusTuus; Tantumergo; ninenot; Catholicguy; ...
C_D_L, you suggested this thread.

I find Jan van Leiden (Leyden) one of the rare birds of history. Here's a brief bio on the guy. BTW, the term "Anabaptist" is used very liberally by many historians. George Williams, The Radical Reformation breaks these non-Magisterial Reformers (the Radical Reformation) into three groups: Anabaptists, Spiritualists and Anti-Trinitarians. Jan van Leyden is included in the second category.

Leiden, Jan van , 1509-1535 A tailor by profession, then merchant, traveled as far as Lisbon. Then he ran a pub and tried himself as singer and actor. Became an ANABAPTIST in 1533. Jan Matthys, the man who baptized him, sent him, as an apostle, to the city of Münster. Here Jan van Leiden and his fellow Dutch Anabaptists (who fled persecution in the Netherlands), together with a faction of Münster inhabitants, gained control of the city. Jan Matthys and Jan van Leiden were the leaders of Münster; when Matthys died in April 1534, Jan van Leiden declared himself king. They declared Münster to be the NEW JERUSALEM, doomsday to have arrived. In the city, a form of communism was introduced, all private property confiscated and declared communal property. Those who resisted his decisions were executed. Münster was besieged by the Bishop of Münster since February 28th 1534; the city fell on June 25th 1535. Jan van Leiden was executed. Leiden,

3 posted on 02/08/2004 7:43:57 PM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: Calvinist_Dark_Lord

Another account from Today in Odd History

Matthys's horde arrived in early February 1534. Jan van Leyden and Bernard Knipperdolling took to the streets, preaching the Apocalypse. Hysteria gripped the city. People began speaking in tongues, and experiencing visions. As word spread, Anabaptists began flooding into the city, while Catholics and Lutherans scrambled to get out. On February 23, Matthys climbed the pulpit and announced that Muenster could not truly become the City of God until it had been thoroughly cleansed. He called for the baptism of every adult in the city, and for the execution of any who resisted. Knipperdolling, possessing a more rational mind, convinced him to merely exile dissenters, rather than killing them. For the next three days, Matthys's army dedicated itself to baptizing the ungodly, while the Bishop of Muenster applied himself to building seigeworks around the town.


When Easter came, Matthys seized the goods of the exiled citizens and placed them in warehouses to be distributed to the poor, then insisted that everyone in the city bring forth their wealth so that it could be evenly divided amongst the populace. A few people resisted; they were locked in a church and given the option to die, rather than give up their goods. They were released once they agreed to comply, but a blacksmith who had questioned Matthys's authority to redistribute the city's wealth was declared to have been possessed by the devil. Matthys had him imprisoned, and then murdered him.

On Easter Sunday, the day Matthys had identified as the beginning of the End, the Bishop mounted an attack. While Knipperdolling, ever reasonable, stayed inside to comfort Matthys's panicked congregation, Matthys himself strode forth, assuring the people that God had given him special powers, so that the enemy could not harm him. He swept down upon the Bishop, but met his end, when the Bishop's guards impaled him and then decapited him. His head was hoisted on a pike and displayed for his followers inside the city.

The rising might have ended then, had Jan van Leyden not taken up Matthys's role. Overcome by religious ecstasy, he ran naked through the streets, foaming at the mouth and speaking in tongues, before collapsing into a three-day coma. After he recovered, he called the people together to tell them that God had revealed the new order to him. The laws of the city were to be replaced with a more godly regime. A number of new capital offenses were declared, and Knipperdolling was given the "Sword of Justice" and the title of Executioner. Money became illegal, although new coins were issued so that the people could buy commodities which could not be locally produced, and communal ownership was mandated. In July, van Leyden announced that the Old Testament mandated polygamy, and proceeded to execute anyone who did not agree. Furthermore, marriage was made compulsory for women, although divorce was allowed for men, and the marriage ceremony itself was abolished. Marriage could now be accomplished by simply telling a woman to marry you, and moving her into your house. Since domestic discord was punishable by death, the women were not likely to complain.

In September, one of van Leyden's followers declared that he had received a vision; van Leyden was to be King of the World. He accepted the Sword of Justice, and the title of Prophet-King, and assured the populace that Muenster would be delivered the following Easter. To commemorate his new position, he renamed all of the streets in Muenster, as well as renaming the days of the week and the children, too, just for good measure. He took Divara, Jan Matthys's widow, as his chief wife (he had 15 others) and made her his queen.

... When Easter came and went, and there was still no sign of God's Army, van Leyden's support began to crumble. In June, the Bishop mounted a surprise attack. Perhaps assisisted by treason from within the city, he broke through the resistance and captured the town. Anabaptists who surrendered were promised leniency, but the Bishop was not in a charitable mood. The killing continued for two days. The bodies were stacked inside the cathedral. Jan van Leyden himself was captured, and tortured to death with hot irons. Thecages in which the bodies of van Leyden and two other leaders were displayed still hang from the tower of the church.



4 posted on 02/08/2004 7:53:39 PM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: drstevej
Hmmm… reading about this time is very interesting and I will need to do more studying on this subject. I enjoy these posts.

I remember reading something not too long ago by a rabbi about how at the time of Christ there was great spiritual turmoil and several individuals claimed they would rise from the dead. Therefore, Christ was not any different then the rest of these.

I thought this was an interesting comment. Without going to far into apologetics Christ had multiple sightings and plus promises to give us His Holy Spirit when we know Him. None of the others people who made this claim could do that.

What made this comment interesting to me is that during the coming of Christ others arose who attempted to obscure the REAL message - of the redemptive nature of Christ. The period of the Reformation also seems to be similar to the time of Christ. Great turmoil and many different mix messages. Satan has always confused people since the garden of Eden. One can only wonder if Satan wasn’t trying to obscure God’s message during the Reformation with these various cults. If people stay true to God's Word and pray they can chart these waters.
5 posted on 02/09/2004 5:24:51 AM PST by HarleyD (READ Your Bible-STUDY to show yourself approved)
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To: HarleyD
Interesting thesis, Harley.

George H. Williams, The Radical Reformation is an awesome synthesis and analysis of this aspect of the era. Too many historians have simply labelled all of these individuals as Anabaptists and dismissed them without any real analysis. Williams has done the homework and provides needed context for understanding the Reformatin era.

Unfortunately, Williams' book cost $75 in paper and $130 hardback. It was used as the primary text for a doctoral course I took at Westminster Seminary on the Radical Reformation. It definitely shaped my thinking about the era.

6 posted on 02/09/2004 5:41:25 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: drstevej
There still are anabaptists?
7 posted on 02/09/2004 6:24:42 AM PST by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: drstevej; Salvation; NYer; american colleen; Desdemona; CAtholic Family Association; ...
drstevej invites us Catholics to read and debate, so I am pinging y'all. God Bless
8 posted on 02/09/2004 6:26:02 AM PST by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: drstevej
Talk about going all over the place; Catholic, then Lutheran, then Anabaptist; then Catholic again with strong lutheran minority; then counter-reformed Catholic. Wow, I figured most German cities went one way or another, and stayed that way.
9 posted on 02/09/2004 6:27:55 AM PST by StAthanasiustheGreat (Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit)
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To: drstevej


10 posted on 02/09/2004 7:09:57 AM PST by Polycarp IV (PRO-LIFE orthodox Catholic--without exception, without compromise, without apology. Any questions?)
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***There still are anabaptists?***

Yes there are. The Mennonites are the spiritual descendants of the 16th c Anabaptist leader, Menno Simons. There are other anabaptist congregations that you can find with a google or two.

There are historical links between Anabaptists and some strains of baptists (a topic of my dissertation). Their views of separation of church and state, religious tolerance, etc. still have an impact on the religious scene today. I have profited from Anabaptist studies and believe that separating the whackos from the more biblically focused Anabaptists is needed.

Munster, unfortunately discredited all of them.

Thanks for pinging your buds.
11 posted on 02/09/2004 7:12:11 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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***Wow, I figured most German cities went one way or another, and stayed that way.***

Check out Strassburg's history. Less volatile but still as divergent.
12 posted on 02/09/2004 7:13:11 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: CAtholic Family Association
***HttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC ?!?***

Answered privately to avoid distractions here.
13 posted on 02/09/2004 7:16:46 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: drstevej
uhh, Steve--did it occur to you that the 'naked and foaming-at-the-mouth' character might have had a possession problem?

I'm more serious than that question may sound.
14 posted on 02/09/2004 7:32:28 AM PST by ninenot (Minister of Membership, TomasTorquemadaGentlemen'sClub)
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To: ninenot
***Steve--did it occur to you that the 'naked and foaming-at-the-mouth' character might have had a possession problem? ***

I think that Jan van Leyden might have had a series of problems of which your suggestion I would not rule out. Which, in the new polite Religion Forum terminology, means "You betcha."

My advance apologies to all FReeper Van Leydenites!
15 posted on 02/09/2004 7:44:07 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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To: drstevej
Part of the reason I brought it up was engendered by an article I read recently (perhaps on FR) which proposes that a NUMBER of historical figures were dementia-cases through syphilis, although it was not acknowledged at the time and has been buried carefully since (Hitler being the most recent example of note.)

The article also went on to suggest that possession was not out of the question for others...
16 posted on 02/09/2004 8:25:56 AM PST by ninenot (Minister of Membership, TomasTorquemadaGentlemen'sClub)
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To: drstevej

Trying to decipher!
17 posted on 02/09/2004 8:48:15 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: ninenot
***dementia-cases through syphilis***

I suppose that may be true in some cases but I know of nothing to suggest that as the reason here. It's hard to gauge the why of the bizarre events of van Leyden's "reign." But it is fascinating none the less!

Van Leyden reminds me of a David Koresh (with apologies to all FR Branch Davidians noted).
18 posted on 02/09/2004 9:17:10 AM PST by drstevej (THttABTSFitIotCRbtLaDJC)
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