Brussels (Belgium)

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Brussels (Flemish, Brussel; French, Bruxelles), since 1830 the capital of Belgium, (1947 pop. 187,000, Greater Brussels 952,500; 2005 pop. 140,000; Metro 1,975,000), where Anabaptist doctrine was spread in the 16th century. Since the city was then the residence of the chief magistrate, the Inquisition tracked down heretics more ruthlessly than in other places. There were probably fewer Anabaptists here than in Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp; nevertheless Leenaert Bouwens baptized at least 23 persons there between 1554 and 1557. The last Anabaptist to suffer death as a martyr in Belgium was Anneken van den Hove, who was buried alive 19 July 1597, according to van Braght, who also records the execution of Govert Jaspers van Goes in 1558 and Hans van der Straeten of Kortrijk at the stake in 1571. In his study of martyrs at Brussels, Verheyden lists eight Mennonite martyrs in this city, the first of whom was Wouter van Stoelwijk, arrested 11 February 1538 and executed in 1541, exact date unknown; but according to a document of September 1539 (Inv. Arch. Amst. I, No. 215) some Anabaptists were put to death at Brussels as early as 1539. A letter written by Regent Mary of Hungary to the Court of Holland, dated 25 April 1542 (Inv. Arch. Amst. I, No. 245), states that an Anabaptist had indicated a number of persons at Brussels who were infected with the heresy of Anabaptism; but in this period, as far as we know from the official records, no martyrs died at Brussels. There must have been a Mennonite congregation in Brussels, at least as early as 1541. The martyr Wouter van Stoelwijk gives some particulars about the congregation, which seems to have been only a small group of rather well-to-do people. The congregation still existed in 1594, but nothing is known of its history nor the time it dissolved.

The relief work carried on in Belgium by the North American Mennonites, 1946-1950, had its headquarters in Brussels. Mennonite missionaries have been stationed there since that time. The missionaries sent to the Belgian Congo by the Congo Inland Mission, a North American Mennonite mission board, who must learn the French language by residence in Belgium, all normally spend a year of study in Belgium before proceeding to the field.


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

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, 215, 245.

Verheyden, A. L. E. Le Martyrologe Courtraisien et la Martyrologe Bruxellois. Vilvorde: R. Allecourt, 1950: 46, 48, 49, 57, 58.


Map:Brussels (Belgium)

Author(s) Karel Vos
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Vos, Karel and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Brussels (Belgium)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 1 Oct 2022.

APA style

Vos, Karel and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Brussels (Belgium). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 October 2022, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 454-455. All rights reserved.

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