Biographies of Famous Lutherans
First posted on January 2nd 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004

External Links : Biographies to the History of the Anabaptist Reformation

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon (ÖH), in German; concise biographies
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), in German, scholarly
Personen, from Lutherstadt Wittenberg, 24 German language biographies
Personen zur Geschichte Mitteldeutschlands (Persons in the History of Central Germany), from MDR, in German
Catherine Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany, a site dealing with hymn singers from the 8th century to 1850
Philosophengalerie : Neuzeit, from Univ. Düsseldorf, Philosophische Fakultät, in German; brief illustrated biographies with lists of major works
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.I : Aachen-Basilians, Vol.II : Basilica-Chambers, Vol.III : Chamier-Draendorf, Vol.IV : Draeseke-Goa, Vol.V : Goar-Innocent Vol.VI : Innocent-Liudger, Vol.VII : Liutprand-Moralities, Vol.VIII : Morality-Petersen, Vol.IX : Petri-Reuchlin, Vol.X : Reutsch-Son, Vol.XI : Son of Man-Tremellius, Vol.XII : Trench-Zwingli
Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907-1913 edition
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of Anabaptism

Steven M. Nolt, A History of the Amish, Intercourse, PA : Good Books 1992
Mark Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation c.1500-1618, Harlow (Essex): Longman 1998, pp.285-326, KMLA Lib.Sign. 274.06 GB 121

Biographies of Famous Anabaptists


Blaurock, Georg (Jörg Blaurock), 1492-1529
Monk at St. Lucius in Chur, Switzerland. Before 1525 he was in Zürich, where he became a follower of KONRAD GREBEL. On January 18th 1517, the day after the city council of Zürich opted for infant baptism after a disputation between Grebel and HULDRYCH ZWINGLI, Blaurock was the first to receive adult baptism, by Grebel. Blaurock immediately returned the favour. The act gave their nascent community the name - ANABAPTISTS. In 1529, after having been tortured, he was burnt at the stake in Clausen (Tyrol). Regarded a Martyr among the Mennonites, who sing two hymns dedicated to him.

German language biography from BBKL

Grebel, Konrad, 1489-1526
Studied in Vienna, Paris, Zürich and Basel 1515-1521. Befriended with HULDRYCH ZWINGLI since 1517; advocated a more thorough reform than Zwingli; the two got estranged over time, the main point of disagreement was Grebel's rejection of infant baptism. On January 17th 1525 Grebel and Zwingli held a public disputation of the topic in front of the Zürich city council, which sided with Zwingli and declared Grebel and his followers radicals. The city council established infant baptism as city law and threatened those who refused to have their children baptized with eviction. The day after, Grebel performed, in the style of John the Baptist, the first adult baptism on Georg Blaurock, and then received baptism from the latter, thus establishing ANABAPTISM. Grebel then moved to Schaffhausen, where he established an anabaptist community. He died in 1526 in Graubünden (Grisons).

German language biographies from BBKL, 14 lines, bibliography

Hofmann, Melchior (M. Hoffmann), late 15th c.-1543
Originally a furrier from Waldshut in Hither Austria. He became a travelling reformist preacher. 1523 in Livonia, he was appointed parish priest in Livonia. He tended toward Lutheranism, but was a radical; his sermon against images caused an iconoclastic riot. In 1526 he accepted the post of parish priest at the German church in Stockholm, where he was asked by King Gustavus I. to stop preaching (1527). Luther had Hofmann advised to return to his profession as a furrier. After having preached and stirred unrest in Holstein, Hofmann came to Strassburg; here in 1530 he demanded the ANABAPTISTS to be granted equal treatment. The city council ordered his arrest; Hofmann fled again; he then preached in Emden (East Frisia) where he openly was accepted into the Anabaptist community. Having returned to Strassburg in 1533, he was placed under arrest. He was convinced Strassburg would be the NEW JERUSALEM; he remained in prison until his death in 1543.

German language biography from BBKL

Hut, Hans, 1490-1527
Born in Franconia as a farmer's son; served as sacristan to the Knights Hans and Georg von Bibra c.1520-1524; he doubted in the legitimacy of infant baptism and refused to have his baby daughter baptized. Was expelled from Bibra; he then moved around, selling pamphlets as well as the writings of Martin Luther. During the GERMAN PEASANTS WAR he briefly joined the pesants in Thuringia, where he agitated against the state authorities; he managed to escape. In 1526 he received adult baptism from Hans Denck in Augsburg; he moved on to Nikolsburg in Moravia where an Anabaptist community enjoyed the protection of the local landlord. However he disagreed with Balthasar Hubmaier over the matter if the Anabaptists should support the war effort against the Turks; Hut again hat to leave. In Augsburg in 1527 he was arrested and, as a heretic, sentenced to be burnt at the stake; he attempted to commit suicide and died before the execution could be carried out.

German language biography from BBKL

Huter, Jakob (Jacob Hutter), -1536
Had learnt the business of hatmaking (thus his name), settled in Carinthia where he got in contact with Anabaptist thought. After having received adult baptism, he became the leader of the Anabaptist community in Tyrol. The Hutterites, as his followers were called, established an agrarian communism, sharing labour and harvest equally. In 1529 the community experienced massive suppression by the authorities; Huter sent groups of Tirolean Anabaptists to settle to Austerlitz in Moravia, where an Anabaptist community was tolerated. Huter remained in Tyrol, except for occasional visits to Moravia, sending more groups of Hutterites to Moravia, until he moved to Moravia in 1533. In 1535 Huter was arrested, brought to Innsbruck in Tyrol, where he was executed in 1536.

German language biography from BBKL

Leiden, Jan van (Jan Bockelsz., Bockelson, Beukelszoon), 1509-1535
A tailor by profession, then merchant, travelled 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.

German language biography, from BBKL
Literature : Anthony Arthur, The Tailor King. The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster, New York : St. Martin's, 1999, KMLA Lib.Sign. 943 A788t

Manz, Felix (Felix Mantz), -1526
Anabaptist reformer, colleague of KONRAD GREBEL. The first Anabaptist to be executed, by drowning in the River Limmat, in Zürich, Jan. 5th 1527.

German language biograohy, from Huldrych Zwingli von a bis z

Matthijs, Jan (Jan Matthys), c.1500-1534
Originally a baker in Haarlem. Declared himself to be an Anabaptist; caused trouble by disrupting Catholic processions etc. 1528-1531. Was asked by MELCHIOR HOFMANN not to perform any baptisms for the next two years (1531). In 1533 he resumed adult baptisms; he and his followers then had to flee persecution in the Netherlands and turned to Münster in Westphalia, where the refugees from the Netherlands, together with a faction of Münster inhabitants, took control of town. Jan Matthijs and Jan van Leiden were their leaders. The city was besieged since February 28th 1534. On April 4th 1534, leading a sortie, Matthijs fell.

German language biography, from BBKL

Müntzer, Thomas 1486-1525
Studied at Leipzig and Frankfurt/Oder; visited Wittenberg in 1517, was interested in Lutheranism. Ordained in 1513/1514; priest in Jüterbog in 1519, in Zwickau 1520. Was expelled from Zwickau in 1521; 1523 from Allstedt, where he has been priest. In 1524 he became an ANABAPTIST. During the GERMAN PEASANTS WAR he accompanied a peasants' army, preaching demagogic sermons. On May 27th 1525 he was decapitated at MÜhlhausen..

English language biography, from Lutherstadt Wittenberg, illustrated
German language biography, from BBKL
Literature : Eric W. Gritsch, Reformer without a Church. The Life and Thought of Thomas Müntzer, Philadelphia : Fortress Press 1967; KMLA Lib.Sign. 284.3 G871r

Simonsz, Menno (Simons, Simonszoon), 1496-1561
Born in Witmarsum, Friesland. Ordained a priest in 1524; 1531 appointed parish priest in Witmarsum. Was appalled by the violence surrounding the radical, iconoclastic Anabaptists. In 1537 he jpoined the Anabaptists and he married. Within the Anabaptist community he insisted upon strict non-violence and non-participation in state administration. His influence among the Anabaptists was of such an extent, that the Anabaptist communities which survived Münster were referred to as Mennonites. In 1542-1544 he was at Emden, where he held a public disputation with JOHANNES A LASCO. Simonsz travelled a lot, among others to East Prussia and Livonia; he died in 1561 in Lübeck.

English language biography, from Who are the Mennonites ?; Article Mennonites from Catholic Encyclopedia (1911 edition) has 1559 as the year of his death, place Wustenfelde in Holstein.
German language biography, from BBKL


Ammann, Jakob (Jakob Amann), c. 1656 - c. 1730
A Swiss Anabaptist Elder, from Simmental (Canton Bern). His insistence on shunning those who broke ethical rules within the community caused a schism within the Mennonites of Switzerland and the Alsace. His followers were called the AMISH. He insisted on the implication of the canons of the SYNOD OF DORDT. He rejected fancy clothing and established strict regulations concerning clothing.

German language biography, from BBKL

Penn, William 1644-1718
Commanded the fleet which conquered Jamaica for England (Cromwell) in 1655. Became a QUAKER in 1668; spent time in prison (Newgate); in 1676 he received a charter for a new colony - PENNSYLVANIA. Here he established a free state based on the principles of the Quakers, with the capital of Philadelphia. Penn invited the Anabaptist communities of Switzerland and the Alsace, which suffered suppression by the state, to immigrate into his colony of Pennsylvania. The AMISH (followers of Jakob Ammann) answered the call.

German language biography, from BBKL

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