Radical Anabaptists Hutterites

History of the Mennonites

A.) History of Early Anabaptism in the Netherlands

Anabaptist communities emerged in the early 1530es, the first execution of an Anabaptist (for heresy) took place in Leeuwarden in Friesland in 1531. In 1534 many Dutch Anabaptists fled persecution in their homeland and played a significant role in the events in Münster in 1534/1535.

B.) Menno Simonsz and the Establishment of the Mennonite Church

The Anabaptists who survived the persecutions of the 1530es and 1540es isolated themselves from the outside world. MENNO SIMONSZ (1496-1561) advocated a holy lifestyle : members by accepting adult baptism professed their belief and their willingness to subject themselves to a rigid set of ethical rules, which included the banishment of dance, games etc., the avoidance of luxury etc. Mennonite communities emphasized strict pacifism, but also non-resistance toward the state.
Menno Simons travelled a lot, organizing communities in various places of northern Germany. Mennonite communities concentrated in the Netherlands, the Rhineland (Palatinate), the Alsace, Switzerland and the lower Vistula valley (Poland). The German element was dominating; the literature is predominantly in German; the Dutch language Mennonite Biestkens Bible was published in 1558.

C.) Later Mennonite History

In the later 17th century the larger part of the southern Mennonites, hence referred to as the AMISH, split from the Mennonite church. The era of ENLIGHTENED ABSOLUTISM brought the introduction of a policy of religious toleration, thus ending the long era of presecution. The emergence of liberalism and the nation-state resulted in the introduction of mandatory military service, which caused entire Mennonite communities to emigrate, from Germany (the lower Vistula valley) to Russia (mainly the Ukraine); from there to the USA, Canada, Mexico.
The Mennonite communities, despite their complex itinerary, have preserved their identity, by the way of isolating their communities, sticking to their traditional elementary education (based on their German heritage). Mennonite families traditionally have many children.

Mennonite History, from anabaptists.org; A Brief History of the Mennonites, from mennonite.net
Who are the Mennonites ?; Article Mennonites from Catholic Encyclopedia (1911 edition) has 1559 as the year of his death, place Wustenfelde in Holstein.
Mennonite Resources, from AMBS Library, links, many refer to modern issues
Mennonite Historical Society of Canada, has Canadian Mennonite Online Encyclopedia
Was ist Plautdietsch ? von Peter Wiens (What is Plautdietsch; article on the language of the Russian Mennonites), from Plautdietsch Freunde, in German
GAMEO . Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online
DOCUMENTS Prussian/Polish Mennonite History, primary and secondary sources, posted by J. Thiesen
Resolutie rakende het heimelijk trouwen der Mennonieten 1589 (Schiedam) (Resolution concerning secret marriages among the Mennonites 1589, at Schiedam), from de-wit.net, in Dutch
REFERENCE Mark Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation c.1500-1618, Harlow (Essex): Longman 1998, pp.106-108, 258 KMLA Lib.Sign. 374.06 GB 121

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 21st 2003, last revised on November 7th 2006

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