Hans Kräl was the head of the collective Hutterian brotherhood in Moravia 1578-1583. The chronicles designate him: "who is usually called the Kitzbüchler." The records of his trial indicate that he stemmed from the "Brichsental." He was one of the most active itinerant preachers until the spring of 1557, when he was seized in Taufers in the Puster Valley. The Geschicht-Buch gives an extremely graphic and detailed description (from his pen) of his capture and of his severe imprisonment, first in the dungeon of the castle tower, where his clothing rotted from his body and he nearly perished in filth and vermin, and then 37 weeks in the Block. He also described in a poem these sufferings as well as his steadfastness proved in "kindly" and in "racked" examinations. His imprisonment lasted 23 months. Since his conversion was apparently out of the question, and since he had furthermore won the admiration of Hans Fünger, who was holding him for the government, by his faithful and brave attitude, Fünger appealed to the emperor to have Kräl sentenced not to death, but to the galleys. Ferdinand granted this request on 19 January 1559, on condition that expenses be paid by Kräl's relatives or the judges. On the transport Kräl escaped when the guards became intoxicated at an inn at Niederorf: he went to Moravia, where he was chosen Diener der Notdurft in 1560, and Diener des Evangeliums in 1561, confirmed the following year (Beck, 24).
In spite of the risks he had undergone in Tyrol, Kräl again ventured several times into that area, and was one of the most courageous Hutterite preachers. He was an eyewitness of the execution of Mändl at Innsbruck in 1561. The following year the government learned that he had held meetings, preaching and baptizing in Kitzbühel around Götzens and Schwaz. In 1562 Kräl was again in Moravia, where he was made preacher. He went back to Tyrol several times without being caught.
After the death of Peter Walpot the Bruderhof at Neumühl elected him as their leader on 5 February 1578. He held office in the "golden time of the brotherhood" in Moravia. Except for the temporary clouding of his relations with John, Lord of Zierotin, at Ludenburg and the temporary closing of the household at Sobotište as well as the evacuation of Wostitz there was only progress to record, in spite of heavy taxation in the country. In Frischau and Porlitz and (for the third time) in Schackwitz new Bruderhofs were set up.
On 9 November 1583 Kräl became seriously ill; he summoned the elders once more to his deathbed, admonished them to hold fast to the brotherhood and to be faithful in performing their duty. He also charged them especially with the care of widows and orphans. At the age of about 63 he died at Neumühl 14 November 1583. The Väterlied characterizes him thus: "Constantly kind, of peaceful bearing, meek, also inclined to gentleness, well preserved in stocks and chains, in which he lay a long time, a man with whom good counsel could always be found, gifted with modesty." His particular merit lies in his continuation of the chronicle begun and carried to 1542 by Kaspar Braitmichel, the Geschicht-Buch, which he undertook with Haupprecht Zapff.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.
Friedmann, Robert. "Die Briefe der österreichischen Täufer." Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte XXVI (1929); XXVIII (1931).
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 555 f.
Lilienkron, R. v. Zur Liederdichtung der Wiedertäufer. Munich, 1875: 158-166.
Loesche, Georg. "Tirolensia: Täufertum und Protestantismus." Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft füür die Geschichte des Protestantismus im ehemaligen und im neuen ÖÖsterreich 47 (1926).
Loserth, Johann. Der Anabaptismus in Tirol. Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1892.
Unger, Th. "Ueber eine Wiedertäuferhandschrift des XVII, Jahrhunderts." Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für die Geschichte des Protestantismus in Österreich XVIII (Vienna, 1897).
The epistle written by Kräl to Melchior Platzer was published in the Familien-Kalender (Scottdale, 1928) 20-26.
Cite This Article
Dedic, Paul. "Kräl, Hans (d. 1583)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 1 Feb 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kr%C3%A4l,_Hans_(d._1583)&oldid=95644.
Dedic, Paul. (1957). Kräl, Hans (d. 1583). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 February 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kr%C3%A4l,_Hans_(d._1583)&oldid=95644.
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