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THE BEGINNING OF OUR CHURCH HISTORY
Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, Volume I

    GOD HAS LOVED THE HUMAN race from the very beginning and did not create it for destruction. In order to forestall the damage caused by the devil's deceit, God in his mercy began gradually to fan the fire of divine truth and with great wisdom brought light out of darkness. His purpose was to show many people the way of truth that leads to eternal life if they turn to God and leave their sinful and corrupt ways.
    Pope Leo X [1513-1521] played no small part in provoking this confrontation. He gained secret information about the emperor and all the kings and princes through their confessors. Then he sent his delegates and peddlers throughout Germany, with his full authority to sell the grace of God and forgiveness of sins for money, confirming this in letters of indulgence authenticated with his own seal. This was against the teaching of Christ, as is also shown by the story of the apostle Peter when he refused to accept money from Simon the Sorcerer. The pope's practices brought the corruption of the Roman court to a climax. Doctor Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, brought it all to light and made it obvious to everyone.
    In 1517, the thirty-second year of the rule of the emperor Maximilian I, Martin Luther began teaching and writing at Wittenberg, in Saxony, warning people to be on their guard against such peddling and other Babylonian trickery. The pope summoned him to Rome, but instead he presented his views in writing to the legate of the pope at the Imperial Diet in Augsburg. When he did not receive an answer, he returned home on the advice of his well-wishers.
    Then Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland set out to storm the papacy. About the time that the emperor Maximilian died, on January 12, 1519, and Charles V was elected emperor, Zwingli began to teach and write against the loathsome evil of Babylon, the shameless harlot.
    These two, Luther and Zwingli, exposed all the deception and villainy of the pope, bringing it to the light of day as if they would strike everything to the ground with thunderbolts. But they put nothing better in its place. They began to cling to worldly power and put their trust in human help, and were soon just as bad - like someone mending an old kettle and only making a bigger hole. They left behind a shameless people, whom they had taught to sin.
    To speak in a parable, they struck the jug from the pope's hand but kept the broken pieces in their own.
    And so it had to be as Jesus said, "A man that is not faithful in small things will not be trusted with great, but what he thought he had will be taken from him." Now the two named above rapidly won a large following of people who accepted their teaching as the truth. Some gave their lives for it, believing that they had found salvation in Christ. This can be seen in the two young monks, Johannes and Heinrich, who were burned at Brussels in the Netherlands in 1523.
    It was the same with Kaspar Tauber, a rich citizen of Vienna, Austria, who because of his faith was condemned and burned by his fellow citizens in 1524. There were others besides, of whom nothing further is known, and we count them blessed according to Christ's teaching in James 5:11, for they suffered and fought a good fight. But however wonderful the beginning, Luther and Zwingli and their followers were soon divided into two wicked camps because of the sacraments, and they showed all the signs of a new Babel. There was no change in their lives, only boasting and the kind of knowledge that made them despise others. Eating meat, taking wives, and reviling popes, monks, and priests (who of course richly deserved it) was the extent of their service to God.
    Martin Luther and his followers taught that the body of the Lord Christ is in the bread of the Lord's Supper and his blood in the wine, and that these bring forgiveness of sins.
    Zwingli and his followers taught that the Lord's Supper was a memorial of the salvation and grace of Christ. It was not a sacrifice for sin, because that had been offered by Christ on the cross. Both of them baptized infants and rejected the true baptism of Christ, which is sure to bring the cross with it. They followed the pope in the practice of infant baptism, taking over from him the leaven that gives rise to all kinds of evil, the very gateway to false Christianity. While reviling him over other points, they ignored the fact that he had just as little scriptural foundation for infant baptism as for purgatory, the mass, the worship of saints, letters of indulgence, and the like. Luther and Zwingli defended their teaching with the sword and wanted to force people to their beliefs, although faith is a gift of God and is not subject to human control. Originally Zwingli had written and taught that there is not one clear word in the Scriptures to justify infant baptism.

I. The Beginning of the Church in Switzerland, Germany, and Moravia, 1519-1536

    BECAUSE GOD WANTED ONE united people, separated from all other peoples, he brought forth the Morning Star, the light of his truth, to shine with all its radiance in the present age of this world. He wanted in particular to visit the German lands with his Word and to reveal the foundation of divine truth, so that his holy work could be recognized by everyone. It began in Switzerland, where God brought about an awakening. First of all, a meeting took place among Ulrich Zwingli, Conrad Grebel (a member of the nobility), and Felix Mantz. All three were men of learning with knowledge of German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. They started to discuss matters of faith and realized that infant baptism is unnecessary and, moreover, is not baptism at all.
    Two of them, Conrad and Felix, recognized from the Lord and believed that people should be truly baptized in the Christian order appointed by God, because Christ himself says, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved."
    Ulrich Zwingli (who shrank from the cross, disgrace, and persecution that Christ suffered) refused to agree - he said it would cause an uproar. But Conrad and Felix said this was no reason to disobey the clear command of God.
    At this point a man came from Chur, a priest named Georg from the house of Jakob, later known as Georg Blaurock. During a discussion on questions of faith, Georg shared his own views. Someone in the meeting asked who had just spoken. "It was the man in the blue coat (blauer Rock)" So he was given this name because he had worn a blue coat.
    This same Georg had come because of his extraordinary zeal. Everyone thought of him as a plain, simple priest; but he was moved by God's grace to holy zeal in matters of faith and he worked courageously for the truth.
    He, too, had first approached Zwingli and discussed questions of faith with him, but he had gotten nowhere. Then he was told there were other men even more on fire than Zwingli. He inquired eagerly about them and met with them (that is, with Conrad Grebel and Felix Mantz) to talk over questions of faith. They came to unity on these questions. In the fear of God they agreed that from God's Word one must first learn true faith, expressed in deeds of love, and on confession of this faith, receive true Christian baptism as a covenant of a good conscience with God, serving him from then on with a holy Christian life and remaining steadfast to the end, even in times of tribulation.
    One day when they were meeting, fear came over them and struck their hearts. They fell on their knees before the almighty God in heaven and called upon him who knows all hearts. They prayed that God grant it to them to do his divine will and that he might have mercy on them. Neither flesh and blood nor human wisdom compelled them. They were well aware of what they would have to suffer for this.  After the prayer, Georg Blaurock stood up and asked Conrad Grebel in the name of God to baptize him with true Christian baptism on his faith and recognition of the truth. With this request he knelt down, and Conrad baptized him, since at that time there was no appointed servant of the Word. Then the others in their turn asked Georg to baptize them, which he did. And so, in great fear of God, together they surrendered themselves to the Lord. They confirmed one another for the service of the Gospel and began to teach the faith and to keep it. This was the beginning of separation from the world and its evil ways.
    Soon after this, more people joined them, including Balthasar Hubmaier of Friedberg, Ludwig Haetzer, and other scholars of German, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, well acquainted with the Scriptures, as well as priests, preachers and others. Soon they gave witness with their blood.
    Felix Mantz was drowned at Zurich for the sake of the true faith and baptism, thus giving his life in steadfast witness to the truth.
    Later, Wolfgang Uliman was condemned to death and burned at Waldsee in Switzerland. His ten companions, including his own brothers, were executed with him. Valiantly and resolutely they gave their lives as a witness that their faith and baptism were founded on divine truth.
    Melchior Veit, Georg Blaurock's traveling companion, was burned at Ettach for the sake of his faith.
    So the movement spread through persecution and great tribulation. The church increased daily, and the number of the Lord's people grew quickly. This the enemy of divine truth could not endure, so he used Zwingli as a tool. Zwingli began to write and preach with fanaticism that baptism of adult believers was false and should not be tolerated. This was contrary to his earlier confession, when he himself had taught that not one clear word from God justified infant baptism. But now, because he wanted to please men and the world rather than God, he opposed true Christian baptism. He persuaded the authorities to use the imperial law to behead as Anabaptists those who were truly dedicated to God, those who out of conviction had made the bond of a good conscience with him.
    Finally Zwingli succeeded in having twenty men, widows, pregnant women, and young girls thrown into misery in a dark tower. They were to be shut up with only bread and water and see neither sun nor moon for the rest of their lives, condemned to remain in the dark tower - the living and the dead together - to suffocate in the stench, to die and rot, until not one of them was left. There were some who did not take one bite of bread in three days so that the others would have something to eat.
    At the same time severe mandates were issued at Zwingli's instigation: from now on, any person in the district of Zurich who was baptized should be thrown into the water and drowned without any trial or judgment. This shows the spirit Zwingli belonged to, and his followers still belong to it.

1526

    However, God's cause cannot be changed, and God's decisions are not controlled by human power. Therefore he inspired the men named above to go out to proclaim the Gospel and foundation of truth.
    One of them, Balthasar Hubmaier, went to Nikolsburg in Moravia and began to preach. The people accepted his message, and in a short time many were baptized.
    Hans Hut also went to Nikolsburg, and several more ministers and teachers were appointed to preach the Word of God, namely Oswald Glait, Hans Spittelmaier, Christian Rotmantel, Klein Utz (Little Utz) and Gross Utz (Big Utz), Hans Werner, Andreas Mosel, and Strutzel, some of whom had been preachers before. These and others gathered at the castle in Nikolsburg to consider whether to wear and use the sword and whether to pay war taxes. They also discussed other problems. But they could not reach a common understanding and parted in disunity.
    Hans Hut was held prisoner in Nikolsburg Castle because he would not agree with its lord, Leonhard von Liechtenstein, on retaining the use of the sword. One of Hans Hut's well-wishers, concerned for his safety, took a net meant for snaring hares and lowered him through a window and over the wall by night.
    The next day the people in the town protested loudly against Lord Leonhard and his followers for keeping Hut in the castle by force. Balthasar Hubmaier was moved to speak publicly in the hospice with his friends because they had previously been unable to agree about the sword and paying taxes.
    During this time the movement grew rapidly, and people were gathering in such numbers that King Ferdinand was informed of it. He responded by summoning Lord Leonhard von Liechtenstein (who lived at Nikolsburg, had been baptized, and was called a brother) to appear before him in Vienna with his brother, Lord Hans, and all their preachers. And they complied. Straightaway, Balthasar Hubmaier and his wife were taken prisoner and sent from Vienna to Kreuzenstein Castle. In prison, Hubmaier remembered that he had unjustly opposed Hans Hut on several points. He realized he was guilty of giving far too much to worldly freedom in regard to retaining the sword. This moved him to write to Nikolsburg, particularly to his fellow worker Martin, provost at Kanitz, asking him and the others to change anything that was not right. He added, "If Hans Hut were here now, we would soon be united."
    Brother Balthasar Hubmaier was taken from Kreuzenstein back to Vienna to be questioned on many articles of faith. Finally he was condemned to death and burned, and a short time afterward his wife was drowned. Two songs composed by Balthasar Hubmaier are still known in the church, besides writings that show how powerfully he defended true baptism and opposed infant baptism with proofs from Holy Scripture. (It is a great pity that we no longer have these writings, and that only one of the two songs is still preserved, a song beginning "Freut euch, freut euch in dieser Zeit.")
    He threw light on the true meaning of the Lord's Supper in the same thorough way and refuted the idolatrous mass and its great error and deception. At this time Martin, provost at Kanitz, was summoned before King Ferdinand in Prague, Bohemia. When he appeared, he was taken prisoner and sent to the bishop at Kremsier, where the priests left him to starve and rot in the dungeon.
    At this time two brothers came to Nikolsburg from around the Enns River. Their names were Jakob Wiedemann and Philip Jager. They heard Hans Spittelmaier's teaching and tested the life there for several weeks, but they realized that this group was seriously lacking in the true order of brotherly discipline according to the Lord's Word. They could not agree to wearing or using the sword, paying war taxes, and other matters that were against their own convictions. They therefore admonished the group at Nikolsburg about all these abuses, because they were not in keeping with the life and teaching of Christ.
    These concerns and the rumor that the Turks were marching on Vienna led the elders of the church to hold a meeting at Pergen, either in the minister's house or the inn, to discuss the points mentioned above. They were unable to reach unanimity and parted in disunity, divided in their views as in Balthasar Hubmaier's time.
    As a result, Jakob Wiedemann, Philip Jager, and others withdrew from the group at Nikolsburg. They met from time to time in different houses, received the pilgrims, guests, and strangers from other countries, and began living in community.
    When Hans Spittelmaier discovered this, he spoke in the hospice at Nikolsburg and taught publicly that the sword, war taxes, and similar things should be retained. Thereupon Lord Leonhard von Liechtenstein sought out those who called themselves a community and had them come to him with their servants of the Word, Jakob and Philip, in order to find out why they had cut themselves off.
    They answered Lord Leonhard that in many areas they had found serious disorders in the way he and his congregation lived: they did not give hospitality to guests and strangers, affirmed the sword and war taxes, and did not live according to the Word of truth "which we considered to be sufficient reason."
    Then Lord Leonhard said, "If you meet separately, and refuse to go to the worship services my preachers hold, I cannot tolerate you in my domain." The brothers replied, "With God's help we will wait patiently for whatever the Lord permits to happen to us." At the same time they earnestly warned Lord Leonhard to consider what he was doing, because he himself claimed to be a brother. Lord Leonhard responded that he personally did not object to their devout way of life but that he could not tolerate them because their presence would cause division among his brothers. However, the situation remained unchanged throughout the winter until the following Lent.
    In the first week of Lent, King Ferdinand sent the provost all over Austria to stir up indignation and persecution against the believers in Christ. Some he put in prison, those he caught in the fields or streets he beheaded, and the villagers who refused to recant, he hanged on the gateposts. Therefore many people left Austria for Nikolsburg, and in the villages around Nikolsburg many left their houses and fled with wife and children up to the mountains.
    Then Lord Leonhard and Lord Hans von Liechtenstein warned the provost not to interfere within their boundaries or they would present him with a few cannon balls. At this the provost withdrew.
    At about the same time, King Ferdinand sent a savage provost named Aichelin into Swabia and the province of Wurttemberg. He shed much innocent blood and burned down the Mantelhof not far from the town of Aalen, killing about twenty people - men and youths, women and young girls, including their minister.
    The divine truth became known far and wide, and the words of Scripture were fulfilled throughout the Holy Roman Empire: God allowed his people, the sheep of his pasture, to be led to the slaughter. There was so much killing and bloodshed for the sake of divine truth that the whole of Germany was stained by it. An account of some who suffered is given here, but only of a few, as follows:

1527

    In 1527 on May 21, several people were executed at Rottenburg on the Neckar, including brother Michael Sattler. He was cruelly tortured and finally burned to ashes. The other brothers were executed with the sword. The sisters were drowned.
    Georg Blaurock from the house of Jakob and one other were executed about this time at Gufidaun not far from Klausen in the province of Tirol. They were condemned to be burned alive at the stake.
    Thomas Herrmann was burned alive at Kitzbuhel. Soon after him sixty-seven of his fellow believers were killed for the sake of their faith.
    In this year of 1527, Leonhard Kaiser, formerly a priest, was condemned to death and burned alive at Scharding in Bavaria.

1528

    In 1528, Leonhard Schiemer was beheaded at Rottenburg and burned to ashes. Soon after him as many as seventy people witnessed with their blood in this same place.
    Hans Schlaffer and Leonhard Frick were executed with the sword at Schwaz in the Inn valley. Nineteen people were then executed in the same place.
    Hans Feyerer with five others was sentenced to death and burned at Munich in Bavaria. Three of their wives were drowned. Two men of noble birth and a miller were beheaded.
    Thomas and Balthasar, and a companion named Dominicus were burned to death at Brunn in Moravia.

1529

    In 1529, Virgil Plattner was executed with the sword at Scharding in Bavaria.
    Ludwig Haetzer was executed at Constance on the Lake of Constance after a long, wearisome time of imprisonment. He was one of a group of three who were executed with the sword.
    Hans Hut was condemned and burned to death at Augsburg in Swabia.
    Hans Langenmantel and one other were executed with the sword at Weissenhom.
    Wolfgang Brandhuber and Hans Mittermaier with about seventy faithful believers were condemned to death by water, fire or the sword at Linz in Upper Austria.
    Eucharius Binder and several other believers were locked into a house in the Salzburg area and burned. Daniel Kropf and two others were executed with the sword at Graz in Styria. Four sisters were drowned.

1530

    Georg Grunwald was condemned and burned to death at Kufstein on the Inn. A few days later, another brother was executed with the sword.

1531

    Walser Mair and two others were executed with the sword at Wolfsberg in Carinthia.
    Martin Mater and six others were executed with the sword at Gmunden in Swabia.
    Within a very short time, in every corner of the German lands, a great number of ministers and teachers of the truth had to seal their teaching with their blood.
    Many other believers - who were not teachers - recognized the truth and were faithful to it, leaving the errors of false Christianity. They were also executed in those days, just like their teachers, and witnessed with their blood to what they confessed with their lips, as follows:
    In 1527, Georg Wagner of Emmering was burned alive at Munich in Bavaria because of four articles of faith. We still have a song that tells his story.
    In 1528, three brothers and two sisters were burned alive at Znalm in Moravia.
    In that same year, 1528, nine brothers were beheaded and three young girls were drowned at Bruck on the Mur in Styria.
    Johannes Bair of Lichtenfels was imprisoned in a dungeon at Bamberg in Franconia for twenty-three years. He died in prison.
    In 1529, four brothers and four sisters were captured in Vill, a village in the Adige Valley, and were taken to the castle. Their names were Wolfgang from Moos near Deutschnofen, Thomas Imwald from Aldein, Georg Frick from Wirtsburg, Mang Kager from Fussen, Christine Tollinger from Penon (a widow), Barbara from Tiers, Agatha Kampner from Breitenberg, and her sister Elizabeth. On November 16, the Tuesday after St. Martin's Day, they testified their faith in front of the judge and nine jurymen, and were then executed.
    In 1529, two sisters, Anna Maler and Ursula Ochsentreiber were sentenced to death for the sake of divine truth and drowned at Hall in the Inn Valley. In the same year, nine brothers were beheaded, several sisters were drowned, and one sister was burned at Alzey on the Rhine. The count palatine had 350 people executed within a short time, many at Alzey.
    Georg Baumann was captured and beheaded at Bauschlet in Wurttemberg for the sake of his faith. When God visited the German lands with his Word, many hundreds of people were executed for their faith, in many provinces, towns, and marketplaces.

CHURCH ORDINANCES

    In 1529, the church community taught, practiced, and agreed to keep to the following ordinances showing how a Christian who holds the apostolic faith should live:

FIRST, when the church assembles, we should ask God from our hearts for his grace to make his divine will known to us. When parting from one another, we should give thanks to God and intercede for all brothers and sisters of the whole Christian church.

SECOND, as Christians we should encourage one another from our hearts to remain steadfast in the Lord. We should meet frequently, at least four or five times a week if possible.

THIRD, when a brother or sister does wrong openly, it should be corrected before the church with loving admonition. If it was done in secret, it should be disciplined privately, but in accordance with God's command.

FOURTH, every brother and sister should be fully surrendered to God and to the church, in body and soul. All gifts received from God should be held in common, according to the practice of the apostles and the first church or community of Christ, so that the needy in the church can be supported as at the apostles' time.

FIFTH, on behalf of the church, the ministers chosen by the church community should look after the needs of the poor with great care.

SIXTH, brothers and sisters should lead honest and upright lives and not be superficial in their speech and behavior, either to one another or to anyone else, inside the community or outside.

SEVENTH, in the meetings of the church community only one at a time should speak, and the others should listen and use good judgment about what is said; two or three should not stand up at once. No one should curse or swear; and idle talk should be avoided, to spare the weak.

EIGHTH, when we meet we should not eat or drink to excess but give thanks and be moderate with what God created for our nourishment, serving one or two dishes. After the meal, the tables should be cleared.

NINTH, matters that are dealt with and put right among brothers and sisters in church meetings are not to be made known outside the church. As for the open-hearted seeker, at the outset the Gospel should be proclaimed and explained to him. If that person accepts the Gospel with joy in his heart and is willing to live accordingly, he should be received by the church community as a member of Christ.

TENTH, we should be prepared for God's working and for the cross every day, for we have surrendered ourselves to be disciplined by him. Everything he lays on us should be received with thanks and borne with patience; we should not be swayed by rumor or frightened by every wind that blows.

ELEVENTH, all those who are of one body and one bread in the Lord and are of one mind should celebrate the Lord's Supper in memory of his death. At that occasion everyone should be challenged to be like the Lord in obedience to the Father.

TWELFTH, as we have been taught and warned by the Lord, we should at all times be watchful and await his coming so that we may be worthy to go in with him and escape the evil that is to come upon the world.

    Let us now continue to tell how, from the beginning, the church was cleansed of those who were false and lukewarm. Especially in Moravia, a genuine gathering and a true ordering of life emerged under great hardship. The king's provost in Austria stopped his persecution and the lords of Nikolsburg sent messengers into the mountains and hiding places in the woods where people had fled, to tell them all to return home and no longer be afraid.

1528

    At that time, several servants of the Word and their congregations settled in Moravia: in Znaim, Eibenschitz, Brunn, and elsewhere. A certain Gabriel Ascherham came to Rossitz. Born in Nuremberg, he had been a furrier in Scharding, Bavaria, then moved to Rossitz, where he gathered the people and taught them. Soon after this, Philip Blauarmel with several others came to him from Swabia. [Philip Blauarmel, also known as Philip Plener, came from Strasbourg and was a weaver, therefore also called Philip Weber. Since he wore blue sleeves, the sign of the dyers' trade, he was generally known as Philip Blauarmel.]
   
Gabriel took them into his household and laid down his ministry in order to give honor and precedence to Philip and his assistant. But soon Philip's actions no longer pleased Gabriel, so Gabriel assumed the leadership over his own people again and they continued living where they were in their own communal households. Philip moved away with his people and started another community. They still claimed to be brothers, but their hearts were disunited, and as a result two groups emerged, the Philippites and the Gabrielites; but more about this later.
    As explained, the number of people in Nikolsburg kept growing, and the majority joined Jakob Wiedemann and Philip Jager. Supported by his assistants and relatives, Hans Spittelmaier in a public sermon at Nikolsburg forbade his people to have anything to do with Jakob Wiedemann's people: they should ignore them because they were forming a separate group. All those who followed Jakob Wiedemann were called "the small group," or Stabler ("staff-bearers"). [The Stabler, meaning staff-bearers, "teach that a Christian cannot with a clear conscience and according to the Word of God bear a sword or any weapon, or wage war, but shall let a staff suffice. They are generally counted among the Anabaptists, who came into being in our time." Caspar Franck, Catalogus Haereticorum (Ingolstadt, 1576), 495. ]
   
But the others at Nikolsburg retained the sword and were therefore called Schwertler ("sword-bearers"). (They are now called Sabbatarians and they have the spirit of the Munsterites.)
    These events made Lord Leonhard von Liechtenstein summon Jakob Wiedemann, Philip Jager, and other ministers and stewards as he had done before. He ordered them to pack up and vacate his land because they were setting up a separate church. So they offered their goods for sale - some they sold, others they left behind - and they all moved away. Afterward, however, Liechtenstein's people sent on all the goods that had been left behind.
    About two hundred people (not counting children) from Nikolsburg and Pergen and the surrounding area gathered outside the town of Nikolsburg. Out of sympathy a number of people came from the city to see them and wept with them, but others argued with them.

THE FIRST PURIFICATION

    They started on their way and encamped in a deserted village between Tannowitz and Muschau and stayed there for a day and a night. They took counsel together in the Lord because of their immediate need and distress and appointed servants for temporal affairs: Franz Intzinger from Leoben in Styria and Jakob Mandel, who had been treasurer to Lord von Liechtenstein in Nikolsburg, with Thoman Arbeiter and Urban Bader to help them.
   
TAKE NOTE: These men then spread out a cloak in front of the people, and each one laid his possessions on it with a willing heart - without being forced - so that the needy might be supported in accordance with the teaching of the prophets and apostles. Just as they were about to move on, Lord Leonhard von Liechtenstein came from Nikolsburg with several mounted retainers, asked them where they were going, and told them they could have stayed at Nikolsburg. By way of answer they reminded him why he had not allowed them to remain; they certainly had not acted lightly, but only in the fear of God and for their consciences' sake, which did not allow them to go along with his (Leonhard's) brothers and the teachings and way of life of his preachers. Furthermore, they said, they held it as unchristian that he and his brothers had threatened the provost with force, for although the provost had been sent by a higher authority, Leonhard, incited by his preachers, had resisted him.
    They then broke camp and went on. Lord Leonhard rode with them as far as Wistemitz, where he provided them with a drink and let them through toll-free. After crossing the bridge, they spent the night on the right bank by the old temple, the little hermitage, and stayed there for breakfast the next morning. They tried meanwhile to find wagons to move their sick people and children.
    They traveled that same day as far as Gross Niemtschitz near Nuslau. From there they sent four men to Austerlitz to request the lords to take them in and allow them freedom of conscience. They mentioned several points such as war taxes and other similar things that in the fear of God they were unable to comply with. These lords agreed and were willing to accept them, saying that even if there were a thousand of them, they would take them all in. The lords sent three wagons to meet them so that they could travel more conveniently.
    When they arrived near the town of Austerlitz, the lords gave them a burned-out, deserted farmstead to live on, where they stayed in the open for three weeks.
    During this time, the following lords visited them: Lord Jan, Lord Vaclav, Lord Oldrich, and Lord Petr, the lords of Kounice at Austerlitz, who showed them many kindnesses. The townspeople, too, were very helpful.
    They asked the brothers if they were willing to build their homes among the people there. The brothers then requested and were granted permission to build on the potters' market. The lords gave them the wood they needed and in addition freed them from rent, taxes, compulsory labor, and other obligations for six years. All this the brothers accepted thankfully as a blessing from God.
    The members of the church now began to increase in number. Zeal and divine grace moved them to send brothers out to other countries, especially to Tirol.
    As already mentioned, Georg Blaurock, one of the first three, had left Switzerland with Hans Langegger and was proclaiming the Gospel in Tirol. In order to bear fruit for the Lord through his gifts and bring salvation to many, the two brothers traveled in the Gufidaun area, where they were taken prisoner and killed.
    After this, as the love of truth was kindled among the nations, many were killed in Tirol for their witness, especially in the following places: in the district of Gufidaun and at Klausen, Brixen, Sterzing, Bozen, Neumarkt, Kaltern, Terlan, on the Kuntersweg; similarly in the Inn Valley, at Steinach, Imst, Petersberg, Stams, Innsbruck, Hall, Schwaz, Rattenberg, Kufstein, and Kitzbuhel.
    In these places a great number of believers witnessed steadfastly to the truth with their blood and were killed by fire, water, or the sword. In spite of all this suffering, the people of God increased from day to day. Around that time a man named Jakob [Jakob Hutter] appeared, a hatter by trade, born at Moos in the Puster Valley, half a mile from Bruneck. He accepted the covenant of grace, the covenant of a good conscience in Christian baptism, promising to live in true surrender and to go the way of Jesus.
    When after a time it was felt that he had abundant gifts from God, he was chosen for and confirmed in the service of the Gospel. Now the church in Tirol learned that at Austerlitz, in Moravia, God had gathered a people in his name to live as one in heart, mind, and soul, each caring faithfully for the other. So they were moved to send Jakob Hutter with Simon Schutzinger and some companions to the church at Austerlitz to make inquiries about all that had taken place.
    After the church in Tirol had taken leave of them and commended them to the care of God, they went to Austerlitz. There they talked everything over thoroughly with the elders of the church, as the church in Tirol had said they should. They found that both groups were of one heart and soul in serving and fearing God. Thereupon Jakob and Simon and their companions, in the name of the whole church, united in peace with the church at Austerlitz.
    As they had now accomplished their mission and brought to a happy conclusion all that had been entrusted to them, they wished to report all this to their own people, so Jakob and Simon with their companions prepared for the road again. After a fitting leave-taking, the community at Austerlitz sent them on their way with peaceful hearts and in unity of spirit, commended to God and his grace for their return home.

1529

    In this year many brothers were arrested in Upper Austria, and some were executed. Among those arrested was Peter Riedemann, born at Hirschberg in Silesia, a cobbler by trade, who was taken prisoner at Gmunden on St. Andrew's Eve (Nov. 29) in 1529. Although he was tortured by many means, almost to the point of death, he remained faithful. Finally, after having lain in prison for over three years, he was freed by the providence of God. The most prominent teacher in the church at Austerlitz was Jakob Wiedemann, also known as one-eyed Jakob. His assistants were Franz Intzinger, Jakob Mandel, Kilian [Volckamer], and others, all appointed to the service of the Word at Austerlitz. When Jakob Hutter was sent back to the believers in the mountains of Tirol, as just described, he joyfully told them about the community of saints he had seen and learned to know at Austerlitz. He told how, in the name of them all, he had united...

(The above document is taken from the Chronicle of the Hutterian Brethren, Volume II, published by Crystal Spring Hutterian Brethren. You may order a copy from the Riverbend Bookstore, Riverbend Hutterian Brethren, Box 100, Carberry, MB R0K 0H0, Canada, phone 204-834-2381, ext 109.)

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JOHANN ARNDT AND MENNO SIMONS

Hutterites:  An Historical Overview

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This page was last updated on 10/01/10.