Egli, Emil (1848-1908)

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Emil Egli (1848-1908) was a Swiss church historian. He studied theology, was ordained in 1870, and served in several villages of the canton of Zürich. In his student days he was deeply interested in historical studies. In 1873 appeared his important work, Die Schlacht bei Cappell 1531; in 1879, Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit, a brief product of his Aktensammlung zur Geschichte der Züricher Reformation in den Jahren 1519-1532, which he published (1879) with the support of Zürich and offers an uncommonly rich source on the early history of the Anabaptist movement. In 1887 followed a smaller volume, Die St. Galler Täufer.

H. S. Burrage calls Egli the first research student to find a new point of view for judging the Anabaptists. His penetrating study of the documents and his understanding of the social movements of the Reformation period and of the specifically Swiss nature of this movement caused him to deviate from the traditional condemnation of the Anabaptists. He recognized it as a popular movement and understood its connection with individual more or less visionary leaders and was able to do justice to their intentions. Even the mass psychotic epidemics of the St. Gall Anabaptists he treated objectively. The interpretation of history in the light of related and connected events, and the personal attitude of the Anabaptists to their religious concepts were his norm.

Egli occupied himself principally with the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1879 he began his work at the university of Zürich as lecturer in church history, and in 1892 he was made a full professor. In addition to a series of shorter works he published Heinrich Bullingers Diarium des Jahres 1504-1574 in the second volume of the Quellen zur schweizerischen Reformationsgeschichte, which he founded. After 1897 he published a semiannual periodical, Zwingliana, and after 1899 two volumes of Analecta Reformatorica (documents and treatises on the history of Zwingli and his times; also biographies of Bibliander, Ceporin, Johannes Bullinger). In 1902 he provided for a new edition of the Kessler's Sabbata (a publication of the historical association of St. Gall). With G. Finsler (Basel) he began the publication of the new edition of Zwingli's works (Zwingli’s Werke, Leipzig, 1905 ff., in Corpus Reformatorum).

Egli was a conscientious scholar, who understood the correct approach to the Reformation period and thereby acquired a many-faceted historical sense.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 508 f.

Author(s) Cornelius Bergmann
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Bergmann, Cornelius. "Egli, Emil (1848-1908)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 Sep 2023.,_Emil_(1848-1908)&oldid=144097.

APA style

Bergmann, Cornelius. (1956). Egli, Emil (1848-1908). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 September 2023, from,_Emil_(1848-1908)&oldid=144097.

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