Season 2 – Episode 3

Making Munster Radical: The Anabaptist Revolution

Brad Stosiek and Dr. Kyle Robinson

The Anabaptist belief and practices started in Zurich in the Swiss lands in the early 16th century. Their main purpose and what separated them from the other religions of the time was adult baptisim. They believed that being baptized as a child in “holy” water was not the correct way, and people should live the truth of their religion. Also as Anabaptists, they believed in taking scripture literally, and in polygamy. The Anabaptists were driving out of Zurich, then made their home in Strasburg, and then finally in Munster, Each time claiming that each city was the ‘New Jerusalem”. A sermon by Bernard Rothmann outlined what they believed in, and in the end the Catholics and other Protestants sieged Munster, captured the leadrs of the Anabaptist, tortured them, hung their bodies in cages above the church in Munster, and the religion was dead. Today the closest the world comes to Anabaptist are the Amish.

A contemporary depiction of the torture at Münster


Primary Sources

 Lowell H. Zuck. Christianity and Revolution: Radical Christian Testimonies 1520-1650. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1975(,

Hans J. Hillerbrand. The Reformation: A Narrative history related by contemporary observers and participants. (Michigan:Baker Book House, 1978),

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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