Michael Diller, chaplain at the Palatine court, was originally an Augustinian monk at Speyer and beginning in 1530 prior of the monastery, but had to leave the city in 1548 on account of Protestant sympathies. He had been used by the city council to convert the Anabaptists. With the final establishment of the Reformation in the Palatinate, Elector Otto Heinrich appointed him as a member of the church council that was created in 1556. The tolerant elector tried to come to terms with the Anabaptists by peaceful methods. Hence the proposals of the church board express a more lenient attitude than was found in other regions at the time. Among other things they favored thorough indoctrination of the Anabaptists by the parsons of the state church, suppression of religious services outside the established church, and finally expulsion of persistent adherents to the Anabaptist brotherhood. After the disputation at Pfeddersheim, in which Diller probably participated, the Anabaptist leaders and outside participants in the disputation were expelled.
A few weeks later Diller joined the conference of the leading Protestant theologians meeting at Worms, 11 September to 7 October 1557, in recommending to the German rulers the use of capital punishment against the Anabaptists. He signed the document published there in the same year, Prozess, wie es soll gehalten werden mit den Wiedertäufern, in which the idea that no one should be killed because of his faith is refuted by two Bible passages, Leviticus 24 and Romans 13. It is very likely due to the efforts of chaplain Diller that the elector on 25 January 1558, issued a stern edict against the Anabaptists, ordering "in accord with counsel we have received" that the leaders be punished in accord with imperial law; i.e., with death (see Punishment of Anabaptists). But the elector examined every case and in the remaining few months of his life he apparently signed no death sentences; for it is reported that he granted the Anabaptists domicile in his realm on condition that they conduct themselves quietly.
The extent of Diller's influence on the succeeding Elector Frederick III, who was at the beginning of his reign also strongly urged to persecute the Anabaptists, remains for investigation; likewise his cooperation in the suppression of the Anabaptists in the margravure of Baden-Durlach, where Margrave Karl II on 1 June 1556, issued the church order which had been drawn up with Diller's aid, and which is very similar to that of the Palatinate. Diller died in 1570.
Hege, Christian. Die Täufer in der Kurpfalz : ein Beitrag zur badisch-pfälzischen Reformationsgeschichte. Frankfurt am Main: Kommissionsverlag von H. Minjon, 1908.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon., 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 448.
Herzog, J. J. and Albert Hauck, Realencyclopedie für Protestantische Theologie and Kirche. 24 v. 3. ed. Leipzig: J. H. Hinrichs, 1896-1913: IV, 658.
Medicus, Emil Friedrich Heinrich. Geschichte der evangelischen Kirche im Königreiche Bayern diesseits d. Rh.: nach gedruckten und theilweise auch ungedruckten Quellen zunächst für praktische Geistliche und sonstige gebildete Leser bearbeitet Erlangen : A. Deichert, 1863.
Cite This Article
Hege, Christian. "Diller, Michael (d. 1570)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 15 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Diller,_Michael_(d._1570)&oldid=80165.
Hege, Christian. (1956). Diller, Michael (d. 1570). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Diller,_Michael_(d._1570)&oldid=80165.
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