Bocholt (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany)

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Bocholt, a town in Westphalia (about four miles (6.5 km) from Wesel and Emmerich), where in August 1536 a meeting of several extremist Anabaptist groups was held for the purpose of unification. It was attended by Melchiorites and Batenburgers; the Münsterite remnant was also represented. The expenses of the conference were defrayed by an Englishman named Henry, who was incidentally not identical with Heinrich Niclaes, as Krohn supposes. Among the leaders there were from Friesland Matthias of Balk, Tiardus of Sneek, and Sieswerdus Klerik, a former teacher; from Gelderland Jan van Gulik, Christoffel and Heinrick of Zutphen; from England, Jan Matthysz of Middelburg and Johan of Utrecht; and from Holland (province) Johann of Maastricht and Johan of Schoonhoven. Several later fell into the hands of persecutors and were executed: Tiardus was beheaded in Leeuwarden, Jan Matthysz was burned at the stake in London, and Johan of Utrecht in Holland. Batenburg remained absent, probably to escape a condemnation of his doctrine (Nippold, David Joris I, 53). Strasbourg was not represented. David Joris managed at least apparently to bring about a temporary agreement on the disputed points, but on two main points the differences remained.

The resulting compromise was in substance as follows: Since the assembled parties were unified in most and the most important of the doctrines, and the dispute concerned only two chief points of issue, violent and bitter strife should be avoided. They should beseech God to grant light and show the way to unity. It was agreed that they should refrain from retaliation for insults, from legal force, from arbitrary physical and corporal punishment, and from plundering churches; they condemned all acts of this kind. And finally, adult baptism, which had been done away with by the Batenburgers, should again be administered to those whose piety was proved. After the meeting of elders at Bocholt in 1536 some Anabaptists were found here; some Anabaptists were arrested here in 1548. From their trials it is clear that they rejected the Münsterite teachings and principles; their preachers and elders were Leenhart Munsels, Adam Pastor, and Hinrich Ebbinck. Later on there must have been a Mennonite congregation at Bocholt, to which refugees both from England and the Netherlands had fled. Many Protestants too found shelter in Bocholt, for this town, in contrast with most Westphalian towns, which were entirely or at least predominantly Roman Catholic, was a Protestant town and the Mennonites were tolerated by the city government.

In 1598 there were 26 Anabaptists in the town. But about 1608 by order of the ruler, the Bishop of Münster, all Mennonites (18 families) had to leave the town. A number of these families settled at Winterswijk in the Netherlands, where they founded a Mennonite congregation.


Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1909): 105-106.

Fleischer, Frederick C. De doopsgezinde gemeente te Winterswijk: gedenkschrift ter gelegenheid van het tweehonderdjarig bestaan van haar kerkgebouw opgesteld. Winterswijk: G. Hartog, 1911: 7-9.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 239.

Keller, Ludwig. Die Gegenreformation in Westfalen und am Niederrhein : Actenstücke und Erläuterungen. Leipzig : S. Hirzel, 1881-1895.

Krohn, Barthold Nicolaus. Geschichte der fanatischen und enthusiastischen Wiedertäufer vornehmlich in Niederdeutschland: Melchior Hofmann und die Secte der Hofmannianer. Leipzig : bey Bernhard Christoph Breitkopf, 1758.

Nippold, F. "David Joris von Delft." Zeitschrift für historische Theologie (1863-1864).


Map:Bocholt (Nordrhein-Westfalen)

Author(s) Christian Hege
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Bocholt (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 17 Jul 2024.,_Germany)&oldid=144850.

APA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Bocholt (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 July 2024, from,_Germany)&oldid=144850.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 376-377. All rights reserved.

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