Hans Muhr, an Anabaptist martyr, was arrested in the summer of 1527 in Styria, Upper Austria, with a number of brethren, among them Leonhard Alexberger, Hans Penzenauer, Sigmund Peutler, Matth. Purschinger, and Hans Schützenecker. They were asked to recant, but they insisted that they would adhere to the doctrine they had received from Hans Hut until they were shown something better from the Word of God. This statement impressed the authorities of Styria where there was a lack of theologians. The council believed, according to its report to Vienna, that they had listened to the preaching of Hans Hut out of love to the Word of God rather than any malicious intent. King Ferdinand commanded on 10 September 1527, to begin criminal proceedings against the prisoners, but to pardon those who would recant and accept church penance and pay the cost of the trial.
The trial was conducted by Wolfgang Künigl before 35 judges and spectators. The accused were given an opportunity to defend themselves in writing. They declared that it had never entered their minds to act contrary to the imperial laws, brotherly love, and Christian order, as was asserted in the public charge; on the contrary they gave the emperor what was the emperor's and were subject to all human law for the Lord's sake. In their meetings they instructed each other from the Word of God, but not with the idea of doing anything wrong or instigating revolt. Their doctrine was not an innovation, but the teaching of Christ. The baptism they taught they would maintain to the end. Concerning the sacrament of the altar they read nothing in the Bible, but they valued communion as Christ instituted it very highly. They did not believe that the body of Christ was in the form of bread; for Christ said in Matthew 24 and Mark 14, that if anyone said to them, lo Christ is here or Christ is there, they should not believe it.
Künigl was not satisfied with their promise to stop holding secret meetings if they did not also forsake their doctrine. He said he was not obliged to enter into a debate with them on their view of the Scriptures; imperial and clerical law forbade the laity to dispute matters of faith.
The judges were not unimpressed with the statements of the Anabaptists; their verdicts complied only in part with the mandates requiring the death penalty for those who refused to recant. The delegate from Linz, Michael Widmer, said it was difficult for a layman inexperienced in divine and temporal law to make a decision in such a case. But he would obediently subdue his conscience and his reason and sentence them to two additional months of instruction by learned Christians; if they then would not recant, they should be forever banished from the hereditary crown lands; eight delegates from Styria decided that if they did not respond to efforts to convert them, they should be branded on the forehead and expelled; two delegates from Gmunden and Vöcklabruck thought they should also be blinded. The verdict was finally reached that they should be kept in prison until they returned to the right and Christian faith.
Ferdinand, however, declared drat this verdict was inadequate and ordered that the six prisoners be burned at the stake if they refused to recant. On the rack they again refused to recant, and confessed that before they had been summoned they had taken communion together and mutually encouraged each other to remain true to their faith. They were executed on 30 March 1528.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 175.
Jäkel, J. Zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer in Oberösterreich. 1889: 32-35.
Nicoladoni, A. Johannes Bünderlin von Linz. Berlin, 1893: 74-84.
Cite This Article
Hege, Christian. "Muhr, Hans (d. 1528)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 7 Oct 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Muhr,_Hans_(d._1528)&oldid=92972.
Hege, Christian. (1957). Muhr, Hans (d. 1528). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 October 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Muhr,_Hans_(d._1528)&oldid=92972.
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