Brussel, Bernhard (16th century)

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Bernhard Brussel was an Anabaptist of Niederdorla, a village near Mühlhausen in Thuringia, Germany. A linen weaver by trade, he was subjected to a cross-examination there in September 1564 with some fellow believers, in which he confessed that the Evangelical preachers cannot teach properly because they were not called by lot and were themselves "weak, sinful persons," whose teachings were disregarded by their hearers; infant baptism he considered wrong and unnecessary for salvation, because infants could be taught. He denied that the true body and blood of Christ were in the holy communion; he could not believe that Christ was at the right hand of God and yet be received in the sacrament. He granted a Christian the right of private possessions; he confessed that the government was ordained of God and did well in punishing evil; it was obligatory to pay it its dues. But he considered the oath wrong because the truth should be spoken without any oath, and one should simply say yea and nay.

After this examination the Anabaptists were told to leave the country within a week. If they refused, their confession would be sent to the judge, and his verdict, whether the death penalty or not, would immediately be carried out. They were given until Christmas to reform. When they refused to leave the country, they were tried again on 26 November 1564; if they still persevered in their opinion, they would be given the customary penalty of death by fire. At the third trial, 17 January 1565, Bernhard Brüssel again courageously confessed his faith. It is interesting to note that he now gave Biblical reasons. On the communion he refered to John 6:63 ("The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life") and 1 Corinthians 10:16, with the comment that the bread was the communion of the body of Christ and the body of Christ Himself; this must in truth be eaten in the spirit and in faith, and could not be taken in the sacrament. On the oath he pointed to Matthew 6:34 ff., on the rejection of lawsuits to Luke 6:29, 37. In conclusion he said that the government had no authority to judge him in matters of faith, and was therefore dealing with him in an unchristian way in separating him from his wife and children; what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Since it was written in Matthew 13:29 that the tares should not be separated from the wheat, the government had no right to remove or punish religious error.

Five days later, 22 January 1565, Bernhard Brüssel was imprisoned in Mühlhausen. Here he promised to reform and was permitted some liberty. On 17 May 1565 the fourth trial took place. The prisoners now confessed that they had done wrong and been in error; they would gladly recant publicly and accept any penalty. But they had hardly been released when they broke their promise. We do not know what happened to Bernhard Brüssel; two of his companions were burned at the stake.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 288.

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

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1953

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Neff, Christian. "Brussel, Bernhard (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 1 Aug 2021.,_Bernhard_(16th_century)&oldid=144026.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1953). Brussel, Bernhard (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 August 2021, from,_Bernhard_(16th_century)&oldid=144026.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 454. All rights reserved.

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