Mainz (Mayence), the capital (1955 pop. 87,000; 2005 pop. 195,000) of Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, situated on the Rhine, opposite the confluence with the Main. In the eighth century Boniface made it an archbishopric. The city long remained a center of Christian Germany. In Mainz and Bingen the Waldenses had a considerable number of adherents; they were severely persecuted during the Inquisition (Haupt, 9).
The first years of the Reformation also saw the establishment of Protestant congregations in the archbishopric. In 1524 a pamphlet was published titled Trostbriej der Christlichen Kirchendiener zu Wormbs an die frommen Aposteln und bekenner Jesu Christi, so itzt zu Meintz, Ringaw, und allenthalben im Bistum gefangen liegen, iren lieben Brüdern (copy in the city library of Mainz), containing serious charges against the Catholic clergy, and admonishing the prisoners to be steadfast in faith, since they cannot count on human aid. Which wing of Protestantism they adhered to is not clear. Archivist F. W. E. Roth thinks they were "Anabaptists"; he bases his assumption on the use of the terms "bishops" and "elders." Hermann Haupt supposes that they were Lutherans (Haupt, 26), while Ludwig Keller and Friedrich Thudichum consider them to have been organized Moravian Brethren congregations (Monatshefte, 49-51 and 134 f.). At any rate they cannot have been Anabaptists of the Swiss Brethren type, since that movement did not arise until the following year.
Concerning the fate of these prisoners there is no record, but it may be safely assumed that they lost their lives; for the clergy of Mainz were determined persecutors of all non-Cadiolics. At the end of December 1525 the cathedral of Mainz sent a delegation to Pope Clement requesting him to use his influence with Charles V to have the heretics annihilated (Friedensburg, 101). The mandates passed by the emperor substantiate this idea. Meanwhile the Anabaptist movement reached the bishopric; there are records, though sparse, of the punishment of its adherents (Bossert, 4).
Elector, cardinal, and archbishop Albrecht of Mainz, archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, known for his trade in indulgences which occasioned the posting of Luther's theses, issued a severe mandate on 31 January 1528, threatening his subjects with loss of life and property if they joined the Anabaptists, but promised immunity to the Anabaptists if they would give themselves up and become informers on their brethren (Wappler, 227). The movement was not so easily suppressed, however, for the electoral law (Strafordnung) of 1594 still stipulates that "anyone who defends Anabaptism, calls secret meetings, preaches, or . . . belongs to a sect shall at once be reported to the government" (Mennonitische Blätter 1894, 74). There is no information on later regulations or penalties.
Bossert, Gustav. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer I. Band, Herzogtum Württemberg. Leipzig: M. Heinsius, 1930.
Friedensburg, Walter. Zur Vorgeschichte des Gotha-Torgauischen Bündnisses der Evangelischen 1525-1526. Marburg, 1884.
Haupt, Herman. Beiträge zur Reformationsgeschichte der Reichsstadt Worms: Zwei Flugschriften aus den Jahren 1523 u. 1524. Giessen: J. Ricker, 1897.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: III, 1.
Monatshefte der Comenius-Gesellschaft 7 (1898): 49-51, 134 f.
Rembert, Karl. Die "Wiedertäufer" im Herzogtum Jülich. Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1899: 111.
Roth, F. W. E. Mennonitische Blätter (1893): 89, 105.
Wappler, Paul. Die Stellung Kursachsens und des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen zur Täuferbewegung. Münster i. W.: Druck und Verlag der Aschendorffschen Buchh., 1910.
Cite This Article
Hege, Christian. "Mainz (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 30 Apr 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mainz_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=89251.
Hege, Christian. (1957). Mainz (Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 April 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mainz_(Rheinland-Pfalz,_Germany)&oldid=89251.
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