The Legacy of Anabaptist Münster

For fictional writers and political theorists, Münster has something for everyone. Later sympathetic communists and some Mennonites have argued that the sources themselves added in the more salacious details. It’s certainly a possibility for some of the anecdotes, but not all of them. On the other end of the spectrum from the apologists have been […]

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Look on my works, ye mighty

Over the next six months the Anabaptist leaders were alternately subjected to rounds of theological questioning and torture. As Franz von Waldeck picked through the ashes of Münster, it was not enough to defeat Jan van Leiden, they had to actually get him to repent his beliefs. The task fell to a team of inquisitors […]

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The End is (Actually) Nigh

In May, Henry Gresbeck finally decided to try his own chances at fleeing. In letters written back to his liege lord, he painted a picture of himself as a reluctant Anabaptist from the start, having come to Münster “for the sake of my poor mother, and for the sake of my possessions that I had”.[1] […]

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On a Wing and a Pamphlet

For Bishop Franz von Waldeck stamping out the Anabaptists wasn’t just a political crisis, it was now a grievously personal one. His natural son Christoph[1] had been captured by the Anabaptists in the first bungled attack on the city, and had more or less gone native. Likely the aggrieved von Waldeck was aware that Christoph […]

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His Kingdom Come

While the Anabaptist community struggled to explain their newly polygamous lifestyle to their friends outside Münster, Franz von Waldeck had redoubled his efforts to bring the siege to an end. He had spent the months following the aborted assault bombarding his neighbors with letter and emissaries for assistance. No one was exactly happy with von […]

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Polygamy and Protest

Like the awkward fetish revealed after marriage, Jan van Leiden tried to raise the topic of polygamy quietly at first. As far back as late May 1534 he spoke with Bernard Rothmann and some of the city’s leading preachers about its introduction. Far from agreeing with the prophet, Rothmann and the others questioned whether this […]

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