Veldthaler, Michael (d. 1587)
Michael Veldthaler (d. 1587), a Hutterite Anabaptist, perhaps the only brother coming from the ranks of the South German nobility. He descended from an old Bavarian baronial family, had formerly been a Pfleger (i.e., administrator of a county), and was converted to Anabaptism on a visit at Falkenstein, castle or village, in Austria near the Moravian border, in 1547. Now he cut all his former ties, joined the brotherhood in Moravia, and learned the trade of joinery at Neumühl Bruderhof. Twice thereafter, in 1555 and 1557, he faced grave dangers in work for the brotherhood in South Germany. In 1560 he was made Diener des Wortes (minister), and in 1587 he died at an advanced age in the Bruderhof of Tracht in Moravia.
Veldthaler's first encounter with hostile forces in Bavaria (1555) is related in detail in the Chronicle. A nobleman by the name of Taufkircher of Schloss Gutenberg (Upper Bavaria), who knew Veldthaler from earlier times and apparently wanted to win him back to the Lutheran faith, asked the Brethren to dispatch this brother to him for conversation and counsel. After much hesitation a meeting was arranged in a peasant's house in Bavaria at night. The situation was most unpleasant and aggressive, with the consequence that the authorities were out to catch Veldthaler and his co-workers. It was winter-time and bitter cold; Veldthaler suffered much from lack of shelter, since no one was willing to let him in. Yet he worked on with some success, even though one of his recently won converts had to give his life for this faith. Eventually he returned to the brotherhood.
Two years later, in 1557, he was sent abroad again to visit Brethren in the Rhenish Palatinate. In Swabia, while walking along the road, he met Count Wolf von Oettingen, an old acquaintance, who had learned about the affair with Baron Taufkircher, and who had both Veldthaler and his companion brother arrested (as a nobleman he could not allow another nobleman to fall so far away from the accepted standards of this rank.) The two men were now put into a dungeon so deep that they could be reached only by a long rope (with knots to hold on) and lighted by a small hole high up. The Brethren suffered much but remained loyal to their faith, not yielding to overtures by former friends. Eventually, out of regard for Veldthaler's father, the two were released and after finishing their assignment returned safely. The story of this Swabian experience is told in an old hymn of 33 stanzas of unknown authorship; the Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder, pp. 545-51, prints it after a late copy of 1791, and the Chronicle used it apparently as its only source. The story was not known to Beck.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 216.
Die Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder: Gesangbuch darinnen viel und mancherlei schöne Betrachtungen, Lehren, Vermahnungen, Lobgesänge und Glaubensbekenntnisse, von vielen Liebhabern Gottes gedichtet und aus vielen Geschichten und Historien der heiligen Schrift zusammengetragen, allen frommen Liebhabern Gottes sehr nützlich zu singen und zu lessen. Scottdale, Pa.: Mennonitisches Verlagshaus, 1914; reprinted Cayley, AB: Hutterischen Brüdern in Kanada, 1962, etc.: 545-51.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943: 378.
Cite This Article
Friedmann, Robert. "Veldthaler, Michael (d. 1587)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 Oct 2017. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Veldthaler,_Michael_(d._1587)&oldid=96748.
Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Veldthaler, Michael (d. 1587). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 October 2017, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Veldthaler,_Michael_(d._1587)&oldid=96748.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 804. All rights reserved.
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