Brandhuber, Wolfgang (d. 1529)

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Wolfgang Brandhuber, an Anabaptist martyr, a successful leader of the Anabaptists in Upper Austria. Little is known about the first years of his adherence to the group. He was born in Passau, where he preached and baptized in 1527. After the destruction of the congregation at Styria he moved to Linz and became the elder of the congregation there. Here a broad field of labor opened to him. From the capital as a center his influence was felt with blessing throughout the Austrian hereditary lands and in the bishopric of Passau. Everywhere he preached the Word of God, comforted and strengthened his hard-pressed brethren. In many adjacent villages congregations were formed: in Wels, Enns, Ried, Grein, Gallneukirchen, Gmunden, Lambach, Mauthausen, Schärding, Vöcklabruck, Püchl, and the Attersee many joined the new doctrine and were served by Brandhuber and other Linz preachers. "The moral simplicity and unostentatious greatness of the Gospel they proclaimed," writes Nicoladoni, the historian of Linz, "was of equal power with the character of the preachers—men whose moral conduct, frugality, and submission, and especially their loyalty to conviction, enthusiasm, and self-sacrifice even their enemies had to admit—upon the hearts of the people" (Bünderlin, 32).

Brandhuber's pastoral influence extended all the way to Tirol. This is known from a letter to the church in Rattenberg on the Inn, which throws much light on his attitudes and doctrine. Like all the Anabaptist leaders of that time he placed the greatest stress on a Scriptural faith, which is expressed in a spiritual life rejecting worldly grandeur, in patient endurance of suffering, and in mutual aid. His views on organization for the care of the poor and distribution of gifts of charity are worthy of note. "In the congregation each member is not to be his own steward or treasurer, but the resources of rich and poor shall be distributed by the one who is ordained by the church for that purpose; thus all things that serve to honor God should be held in common, as God gives, grants, and permits" (Beck, 88). A "command of community of goods" is not indicated here, as Nicoladoni (51) and following him the Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1899, 115 and 153) assume. But his Sendbrief an die Gemeinde Gottes laid the foundation for the practice of community of goods, which was instituted among the Hutterian Brethren in 1528. He advises his members not to engage in business because of the risk of taking advantage of one's neighbor. He finds it irreconcilable with a true Christian life to take vengeance or go to war, but the government should be obeyed in all things that are not contrary to God's Word. He seems to have had connections with the Anabaptists in Thuringia; Paul Wappler mentions (Thüringen, 159 and 425) that the head of the Thuringian Anabaptists, Jakob Storger of Coburg, had been baptized at Wels in Upper Austria by Brandhuber.

Brandhuber's period of work was short. In 1529 he was seized at Linz with 70 members and was martyred with his fellow preacher, Hans Niedermayer. Hans Schlaffer, who had become acquainted with Brandhuber in Regensburg in 1527 and was beheaded in 1528 at Schwatz in Tyrol, said that he had "found nothing in him but an ardent zeal for a devout Christian life." His successor was Peter Riedemann, who later became the leader of the Hutterian Brethren in Moravia.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 24.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 433. Available online at:

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 255.

Müller, Lydia, ed. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer, vol. 3: Glaubenszeugnisse oberdeutscher Taufgesinnter, vol. 1, Quellen und Forschungen zur Reformationsgeschichte, 20. Leipzig, 1938: 136-143.

Nicoladoni, Alexander. Johannes Bünderlin von Linz und die oberösterreichischen Täufergemeinden in den Jahren 1525-1531. Berlin: Gaertner, 1893.

Wappler, Paul. Die Täuferbewegung in Thüringen von 1526-1584. Jena: Gustav Fisher, 1913.

Author(s) Christian Hege
Date Published 1953

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Hege, Christian. "Brandhuber, Wolfgang (d. 1529)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 20 May 2024.,_Wolfgang_(d._1529)&oldid=144880.

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Hege, Christian. (1953). Brandhuber, Wolfgang (d. 1529). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 May 2024, from,_Wolfgang_(d._1529)&oldid=144880.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 404-405. All rights reserved.

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