Monday, July 9, 2012

Radicals on the Run, Part 2

Disputations (debates) were held. Students (Grebel, Manz, and Blaurock) argued vigorously against master (Zwingli). The master, of course (with the backing of the city council) won the debates and suddenly the students were outlaws--and they simply could not be allowed to spread their seditious thinking to the population. Laws were passed which rendered any practitioners of this "re-baptizing" heresy worthy of imprisonment, banishment and/or death. It is estimated that thousands were put to death by the Reformers/state church before persecution officially came to an end almost 300 years later.

Conrad Grebel, who had administered the first "re-baptism" in his home to Blaurock, died of the plague after only 14 months of very effective ministry. Felix Manz, in whose home the baptism took place, spent time in both Zurich and Basel, always on the run. He was arrested, escaped (some think he hid in the "Anabaptist Cave" for awhile), was arrested again and then condemned to death. The officials decided that he should undergo what they termed the "3rd baptism"--drowning. So, they tied him up, set out in a boat from the Fish Market bridge and then dumped him overboard, holding him under until he drowned.

A plaque along the Limmat River in Zurich marks the place where he died.

The plaque is at the same spot where another Anabaptist, Hans Landis, was beheaded for his beliefs. Blaurock escaped, went into Austria to continue teaching and preaching. There he was caught by the Catholics and burned at the stake.

We are looking up the Limmat River which runs through Zurich. We are looking at the Rathaus (townhall) on the left where the disputations were held and the sentences of death handed down. We are looking at the bridge which in 1527 was called the Fishmarket Bridge. The Frauminster spire is in the back (another church, St. Peter's, is in the front with the clock tower.) Churches everywhere.

We are looking down river from the bridge. The place to which the little boat with the tied-up Manz and his executioners drifted is about at the center of this photo.

This plaque commemorates the approximate location on the river where Manz was drowned. It was dedicated on this site in 2004 by a joint conference of State Church (Reformed Church) leaders, Zurich city council members, and Mennonite World Conference representatives. The Rathaus and bridge are visible as are the towers of the Grossmunster in the background.

The plaque reads: "Here in middle of the Limmat River from a fishing platform, Felix Manz and five other Anabaptists were drowned between 1527 and 1532 during the Reformation. The last Anabaptist executed in Zurich was Hans Landis in 1614."

This is the plaza (the plaque is in the middle of the picture on the wall) where Landis was beheaded.


  1. What were the differences between these early Anabaptists? Were they in general agreement on what they thought or were there significant differences on how they thought, taught, and practiced this faith?

  2. Wow--so much violence... All their leaders were put to death, but clearly, their teachings have survived - how quickly did their beliefs spread?

    P.S. Please call your daughters soon - they'd like to hear your voices... ;)