movement of Münster gradually divided into two major camps: the conservative Lutheran group and thedemocratic Sacramentarian wing which was ready to accept Anabaptist ideas.
Anabaptism in Münster
Melchior Hoffman, who had spread Anabaptist beliefs and practices in East Friesland and the Netherlands since1531, also secured followers in Münster. Thus far there had been severe criticism of Catholic and someLutheran practices, but with the preaching and practice of believers' baptism the representatives of the radicalreform movement of Münster introduced a new motto and symbol. On 7 and 8 August 1533, a religiousdiscussion was held between the Wassenberg representatives adhering to Anabaptist ideas and Catholic andLutheran ministers. Those favoring Anabaptist innovations were ordered by the city council to have their children baptized. Rothmann was removed from his office. On 8 November 1533 his Bekentnisse van beydenSakramenten Doepe vnde Nachtmaele . . . was published. In addition to his name, it bore the signatures of Rol,Klopreis, Vinne, Staprade, and Stralen, dated 22 October 1533. Concerning baptism this confession says it "isdipping into water, which the candidate desires and receives as a true sign that he has died to sin, been buriedwith Christ, and arises in a new life, henceforth to walk not in the lusts of the flesh, but obediently according tothe will of God" (Keller, 131). This booklet prepared the way for the practice of baptism upon confession of faith.On 5 January 1534, Bartholomeus Boeckbinder and Willem de Cuyper, representatives of Jan Matthijs of Haarlem, who had been baptized by Melchior Hoffman, appeared in Münster. They baptized Rothmann,Klopreis, Vinne, Rol, Stralen, and Staprade. Now Jan van Leyden and Gerrit Boekbinder appeared in Münster.Gradually peaceful Anabaptism grew into a caricature. Rothmann wrote Eyne Restitution .. . which appearedOctober 1534, in which he urged a restitution of the apostolic church. On 9 February 1534 the city hall wasseized, and on 23 February Bernhard Knipperdolling became mayor of Münster. On 27 February all those whorefused to be baptized were expelled from the city. Johann Lenning and Theodor Fabricius, who had been sentto Münster by Philipp of Hesse to restore the evangelical order, had to leave without accomplishing their task.Münster became the refuge of all persecuted, desperate people and the "New Jerusalem" of radical Anabaptism.Evangelists spread the news that the Lord had chosen Münster to establish His kingdom on earth. Particularlymany of the sorely oppressed Dutch Anabaptists, who were suffering severely under Catholic authorities,considered this a God-sent message. Many sailed from Amsterdam and other cities across the Zuiderzee enroute to the "New Jerusalem." Most of them were arrested and returned to their homes, or imprisoned, many being put to death. Others were prevented by the magistrate from leaving their home communities. Nevertheless, large numbers succeeded in reaching Münster.Meanwhile, Bishop Franz of Waldeck, the ruler of the territory, had begun the siege of the city. Already beforethis event the original Anabaptist principle of nonresistance had been weakened through the fanatical view thatthe "children of Jacob" would be actively engaged in helping God punish and annihilate the "children of Esau,"at the time of the establishment of the kingdom of God. On 4 April 1534 Jan Matthijs, a fanatical representativeof this view, was suddenly seized by a foolhardy inspiration to go outside the city walls with a few followers todisperse the besieging army, as in the days of Israel. He fell in this attempt. Jan van Leyden took his place in thecity, cleverly exploiting the situation. He appointed 12 elders and gave them authority in the city. Early in 1534he published a tract entitled Bekentones des globens und lebens der gemein Criste zu Münster (Confession of Faith and Life of the Church of Christ at Münster), which was sent to Philipp of Hesse. In December 1534Rothmann published an appeal to take up arms in revenge and in defense of the church of Christ at Münster (Eyn gantz troestlick bericht van der Wrake unde straffe des Babilonischen gruwels . . .). A unique episode inthe drama of Münster was Hille Feicken who sacrificed herself in an attempt to kill the bishop as Judith had beheaded Holofernes in Israel. She was captured and put to death.In addition to armed resistance, two new characteristics were soon promoted by Jan van Leyden. One of them,not entirely unknown in Anabaptist history, was the principle of community of goods. Marxian writers like K.Kautsky (Vorläufer des neueren Sozialismus, 3rd ed., Berlin, 1947), and scholars like Hans van Schubert have