Johann Klopreis (Kloprijs), one of the outstanding Wassenberg preachers, was born in Bottrop parish near Recklinghausen, Westphalia, Germany, studied theology at the University of Cologne 1518-1521, became a vicar at Wesel, Bislich, and Büderich, where he became a friend of Clarenbach, was summoned to court on account of his evangelical sermons and forced to recant. When he nonetheless continued his Protestant preaching, he was summoned to Cologne the second time. Clarenbach accompanied him. Both were imprisoned. Klopreis was sentenced to "eternal prison" and Clarenbach to death; he was executed on 28 September 1529. Klopreis escaped on New Year's night with the aid of Dietrich Fabricius and found refuge in Wassenberg on the Roer with bailiff Werner von Pallant who employed him as chaplain. Later the gates of the city church were opened to him; here he served a large congregation in an evangelical manner, using bread and wine during the observance of the Lord's Supper. In the surrounding territory he found numerous like-minded preachers, one of whom was Heinric Rol, who exerted a great influence on Klopreis. Through him he was led beyond the initial Lutheran influence to some Zwinglian and early Anabaptist views. For four years Klopreis labored here without disturbance. When Pallant lost his office through the Cleve government on account of his evangelical innovations, he sent Klopreis to Philip of Hesse about Christmas of 1532 to intercede for him.
Klopreis went first to Büderich and proceeded to meet his friend Rol, who had meanwhile gone to the city of Münster. In February 1532 Klopreis arrived in Münster at the moment when this city was going through a significant transformation. The evangelical movement had been victorious and had reached an agreement with the bishop and ruler regarding the Reformation in the city. Klopreis was urged to stay. He accepted the position as minister and had his wife and children join him. With the transformation of Münster from an evangelical city to an Anabaptist Jerusalem, Klopreis underwent some additional changes. He was baptized on 5 January 1534, and became an Anabaptist evangelist. The book Bekentnisse van beyden Sacramenten Doepe und Nachtmaele, published 8 November 1533 was signed by Rothmann, Rol, Klopreis, Vinne, Staprade, and Stralen. This fact puts Klopreis in the front line of the early Anabaptist movement in Münster. C. A. Cornelius says that Klopreis opposed some of the radical developments such as polygamy.
With Gottfried Stralen, Klopreis was sent as an "apostle" to Warendorf on 13 October 1534 to preach and baptize. The council of the city accepted the Anabaptist message. On 21 October 1534 the bishop besieged the city and the council had to turn the "apostles" over to him. The co-workers were put to death while Klopreis was sent to the archbishop of Cologne. On 29 January 1535 he was subjected to an examination on the rack. His "confessions" were published by J. Niesert (102 pages). On 1 February 1535 he was burned at the stake at Brühl.
Klopreis was no doubt one of the most significant of the "Wassenburg predikanten." His association with and a letter he wrote to Clarenbach during his imprisonment reveal that he was a deeply religious, evangelically minded, and well-educated man, and worthy of a better fate. The stages of his development demonstrate that he was willing to accept the full truth and that in Münster he was unable to stop the development of a movement which was taking a course which he did not approve. What his attitude would have been when the city of Münster was defended by the sorely oppressed radical wing of Anabaptism is hard to tell. He died as a peaceful witness to the truth he had received. He greeted the stake at which he was to die with a prayer of praise.
Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Leipzig, 1875-1912: XVI, 209.
Bax, W. Het Protestantisme in het bisdom Luik I. The Hague, 1937: 46 ff.
Cornelius, C. A. Geschichte des Münsterischen Aufruhrs. Leipzig, 1855.
Ernstliche handlung zwischen den hochgelerten Doctorn inn der gotheyt . . . unnd eynem gefangnen genant, Adolph Clarenbach . . . 1528.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 513.
Mellink, Albert F. De Wederdopers in de noordelijke Nederlanden 1531-1544. Groningen: J.B. Wolters, 1954.
Niesert, J. Münsterische Urkundensammlung. I, Coesfeld, 1826.
Rembert, Karl. Die "Wiedertäufer" im Herzogtum Jülich. Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1899: 311 ff.
Zeitschrift des Bergischen Geschichtsvereins 9 (1873): 144 ff.
Cite This Article
Neff, Christian and Cornelius Krahn. "Klopreis, Johann (d. 1535)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 3 Mar 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klopreis,_Johann_(d._1535)&oldid=120366.
Neff, Christian and Cornelius Krahn. (1957). Klopreis, Johann (d. 1535). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 March 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klopreis,_Johann_(d._1535)&oldid=120366.
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