Eysvogel, Johann (16th century)

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Johann Eysvogel, of Cologne, supposedly a former member of the Hutterite brotherhood who returned to Catholicism in the 1580s, and to justify this step wrote a poem in the form of a popular song, entitled, Ein neues Lied/ von der Huterischen Wiedertöufferen Secte/ Lehr/ Leben/ Wohnung/ Im Land zu Mehrheim/ jetzund gebreüchlich. Im Thon/ Wie das Lied von Olmitz. Alles durch die Excommunicierten und Abgeschafften Brüder warhafft beschriben/ und menigklichem zu einer warnung antag geben. . . in which he accuses Hutterian leaders of self-indulgence and deceit. It was published in pamphlet form in 1583 with two poems of completely different spirit attributed by Wackernagel to Johannes Stoltz and Johann Horn. The place of publication is unknown. Eysvogel's poem was similar in spirit to that of Hans Jedelshauser published by Christoph Erhard in 1587. Erhard reprints this poem in his Gründliche . . . Historia (1589), pp. 35-38.

It contains, so to speak, all the arsenal of hostile arguments against the Hutterites which ever were launched against them. Eysvogel attacks the educational system of the Brethren, their community of goods, their somewhat unusual marriage system, and their legendary wealth (see Economic History of the Hutterites). He says they buy up all crops in Moravia so that no one else may have them; they spoil all the trades and rob people with the prices they charge for their products. In short, they chase after money and drive prices higher and higher. In their dress they show a studied modesty but wear only the very best of materials. They act puffed up like noblemen, have the best farms and the best horses, on which they ride around in the manner of the lords.

Das Brot tun sie abschneiden

Dem Armen wohl vor dem Maul.

Worst of all (in Eysvogel's opinion) is the fact that they pay for all their purchases with cash, and thus dominate markets and fairs. (Incidentally, this is a reproach which occasionally may be heard even today, mainly in Canada.) They are wealthy but hide their treasures from the world, etc. The argument of tense economic competition by these large-scale Hutterite enterprises is repeated time and again, and becomes the standard polemical slogan in all subsequent attacks on the Brethren.

Small as the pamphlet was (and who can say whether it was original or merely fabricated as in the Jedelshauser case), its arguments had a major influence upon another representative of the growing Austrian Counter Reformation, Christoph Andreas Fischer, who repeated them almost verbatim about 20 years later. Also the government in Vienna availed itself of the same arguments in its ill-famed General Mandate (edict) of 1601, reprinted by Fischer.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 623, 646.

Loserth, Johann. "Der Communismus der mährischen Wiedertäufer im 16. and 17. Jahrhundert: Beiträge zu ihrer Lehre, Geschichte and Verfassung." Archiv für österreichische Geschichte 81, 1 (1895): 58-61.

Rembert, Karl. Die "Wiedertäufer" im Herzogtum Jülich. Berlin: R. Gaertners Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1899: 505.

Author(s) Johann Loserth
Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Loserth, Johann and Robert Friedmann. "Eysvogel, Johann (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 14 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eysvogel,_Johann_(16th_century)&oldid=145039.

APA style

Loserth, Johann and Robert Friedmann. (1956). Eysvogel, Johann (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Eysvogel,_Johann_(16th_century)&oldid=145039.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 283. All rights reserved.

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