1536: Jacob Hutter, Anabaptist leader

4 comments February 25th, 2009 Headsman

On this date in 1536, the namesake of a major Anabaptist strain “gave a great sermon through his death” by fire at Innsbruck.

Jacob (or Jakob) Hutter, a hatmaker from the south Tirol, became the leader of a thriving Anabaptist community in Moravia where he shocked authorities with adult baptism and managed the heretics’ affairs so smoothly that the heirs of those who survived the hard years ahead still call themselves Hutterites.

Hutter pulled multiple fractured and sometimes fractious Anabaptist groups together and instilled structure that arguably saved these communities from extinction. (More about this in Hutterite Society.)

His effective evangelism only heightened the persecution of the Habsburgs, who exasperatedly reported on “more than 700 persons” executed or expelled, adding that the re-baptizers “have no horror of punishment but even report themselves; rarely is one converted nearly all only wish to die for their faith.”

Hutter himself was so pursued that he had to take his leave of his community, by that time expelled en masse and living as vagrants;* he did not long outlive his return to his native Tirol. He was captured there, hauled to Innsbruck, and tortured for three months before suffering public burning at the express directive of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I.

* Hutter’s letter of remonstrance to a governor during this period makes affecting reading; this excerpt is from The Anabaptist Story:

Now we are camping on the heath, without disadvantage to any man. We do not want to wrong or harm any human being, not even our worst enemy. Our walk of life is to live in truth and righteousness of God, in peace and unity. We do not hesitate to give an account of our conduct to anyone. But whoever says that we have camped on a field with so many thousands, as if we wanted war or the like, talks like a liar and a rascal. If all the world were like us there would be no war and no injustice. We can go nowhere; may God in heaven show us where we shall go. We cannot be prohibited from the earth, for the earth is the heavenly Father’s; may He do with us what He will.

Here‘s a German site all about Jakob Hutter.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 16th Century,Austria,Burned,Capital Punishment,Czechoslovakia,Death Penalty,Disfavored Minorities,Execution,God,Habsburg Realm,History,Martyrs,Public Executions,Religious Figures,Torture

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