Catholic and Lutheran fears of the Anabaptist radicals deepened suddenly in the mid-1530’s with the bizarre Munster rebellion. Munster was an episcopal city in Wesphalia near the Netherlands. In 1532 the Reformation spread rapidly throughout the city. A conservative Lutheran group was at first strong there. But then new immigrants, who were apostles of a strange figure called Jan Matthijs, led to fanaticism among those in power. Many looked for the creation of the Lord’s earthly kingdom in Munster. Church historians call such views chiliasm, meaning belief in a thousand year earthly kingdom of Christ.
When the bishop of the region massed his troops to besiege the city, these Anabaptists uncharacteristically defended themselves by arms. As the siege progressed, the more extreme leaders gained control of the city. In the summer of 1534 a former innkeeper, Jan of Leiden, seized the powers of government and ruled as an absolute despot. Claiming new revelations from God, Jan introduced the Old Testament practice of polygamy and by September took the title "King David".
With his harem, "King David" lived in splendor, yet by a strange cunning he maintained morale in the city despite widespread hunger. He was able to keep the bishop’s army at bay until 24 June 1535. The fall of the city brought an end to David’s reign. For centuries thereafter Europeans, upon hearing "Anabaptist", thought of the Munster rebellion. It stood for wild-eyed religious fanaticism.
[tags]Anabaptists, BlogRodent, church-history, ChurchRodent, history, Jan-Matthijs, Munster-Rebellion, Reformation[/tags]