In the government district of Fulda, Germany, which once included 18 towns and 20 districts around the old cathedral city Fulda, Anabaptism found entry in its earliest period. It was propagated from the south and west of Germany and from Thuringia by migrating preachers. Especially Jörg or Georg of Staffelstein, and Nikolaus Schreiber, a former Protestant preacher at Hünfeld, were prominent. They succeeded in establishing a large Anabaptist congregation in Grossenbach, a village near Hünfeld, in 1529. They lived a quiet retired life. Their religious services they held in the homes in the evening. Usually they met in the house of the brothers Hans and Heinz Meister, and here they observed communion. The record states that Georg broke several bites of bread, dipped them in the wine, blessed them, and gave them to others. Baptism was performed either by making the sign of the cross (?) on the forehead of the baptismal candidate (presumably with water) or by pouring water three times over his head. All that pertained to the world was forbidden, such as wedding celebrations and attendance at the state church. Simplicity of dress, moderation in eating and drinking, penitence and peaceable living, mutual love and benevolence were their characteristics. Their greeting was, "The peace of the Lord be with you!"
Soon bloody persecution broke upon the Fulda Anabaptists. In 1529 ten members of the congregation at Grossenbach were seized and on 7 December cross-examined. This was repeated a week before Christmas on the rack. Four others were arrested. It was learned that a large part of the village adhered to the Anabaptists. After the third trial, on 4 January 1530, the prisoners recanted. The following names are known: Veiten Romeisen, Hans Lober, Adam Meister, Hans Knoth, and Matthias Werner.
Later in the same year, 1530, 19 Anabaptists of Grossenbach were arrested, five of whom had recanted the year before. They were probably executed. The Henneberg chronicle records that Abbot Johannes of Henneberg had ordered several Anabaptists at Fulda to be beheaded in 1530. In other villages Anabaptists were also arrested, as in Biberstein, Rimels, Treichfeld, Soisdorf, Gersdorf, Schlitz, and Mues.
After 1532, according to the report of J. Kartels, seditious tendencies were noted in the Anabaptists of Fulda. Their leaders were reported to be Hans of Fulda and Peter the Anabaptist. Although men like Hans of Kaiserslautern, Hans of Kreuznach, and Hans Beck of Büdingen are named, there were not likely any Münsterite Anabaptists among them, for in these places there were apparently only quiet Anabaptists. Robbers and arsonists like Hans Krug and Hans Schott were criminals who used Anabaptism as a shield for their evil deeds.
On 25 March 1532 at Spahl in the Rockenstuhl district about 40 persons, some of them Anabaptists, some of them curious spectators, were surprised at a meeting, overpowered, and taken to Fulda, where they are reported to have conducted themselves very fanatically. Those who did not recant were executed (Wappler, 82 ff.).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 15 f.
Kartels, J. "Die Wiedertäuferbewegung im ehemaligen Hochstift Fulda." Fuldaer Geschichtsblätter 1 (1902): 3-20. As sources he names Schannat, Historie Fuldensis (Frankfurt, 1720), the literature in the Fulda library, and the Anabaptists' trial records of the Marburg state archives.
Wappler, Paul. Die Täuferbewegung in Thüringen von 1526-1584. Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1913.
Cite This Article
Neff, Christian. "Fulda (Hesse, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 12 Feb 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fulda_(Hesse,_Germany)&oldid=94773.
Neff, Christian. (1956). Fulda (Hesse, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 February 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Fulda_(Hesse,_Germany)&oldid=94773.
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