Hans Schmidt von Rommelshausen (d. 1602), a Hutterite brother from Württemberg whose experiences on a mission in his native country in 1590 are graphically described in a very remarkable epistle. This epistle relates that he had been won for Anabaptism in 1581, and had left Württemberg and gone to Moravia, joining the Hutterites. Here he married. In 1590, he was sent to his home country to spread the Gospel, and after many months of successful work was caught by the authorities and now badly treated, being moved from prison to prison, each worse than the one before. In Schorndorf he met his father and his brothers who pleaded with him to return to their (official) church, but also gave bond for him to the authorities. The most interesting passage in the epistle is the discussion concerning the "sword": the bailiff (Vogt) of one of the castles where he was kept asked him whether, if Turks were to invade the country, he would not want to defend it by the sword. Thereupon Schmidt answered: "The Turk prides himself on being a Turk and he is a Turk; but the alleged Christians pride themselves on being Christians according to the flesh, but then they persecute the true Christians . . . they are Turks according to the Spirit" (Bossert, 656). These are almost the same words with which Michael Sattler answered his judges at his trial in 1527 (when the Turkish danger was imminent). Obviously Schmidt was familiar with the booklet in which Sattler's trial was described.
Schmidt was badly racked and tempted by all kinds of means; but he did not yield. Eventually, upon the intercession of his father he was released and expelled from the country without having pledged never to return. He had been kept in prison from the middle of August to 4 December 1590. After his release he sent the epistle with all these details home to Moravia. In one codex this epistle covers not less than 24 leaves, in Beck's copy (now at Brno) it covers 54 handwritten pages, in print 13 1/2 page-folio, allowing a deep insight into the life, thought, and technique of these missioners—all at the end of the 16th century when many had assumed that Anabaptism was on its way out.
Bossert, Gustav. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer I. Band, Herzogtum Württemberg. Leipzig: M. Heinsius, 1930.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 79.
Wiswedel, Wilhelm. Bilder and Führergestalten aus dem Täufertum, 3 vols. Kassel: J.G. Oncken Verlag, 1928-1952: v. III, 36-39.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943.
Cite This Article
Friedmann, Robert. "Schmidt, Hans, von Rommelshausen (d. 1602)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Schmidt,_Hans,_von_Rommelshausen_(d._1602)&oldid=112060.
Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Schmidt, Hans, von Rommelshausen (d. 1602). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Schmidt,_Hans,_von_Rommelshausen_(d._1602)&oldid=112060.
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