Füsslin, Johann Conrad (1704-1775)

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Johann Conrad Füsslin, a Swiss Reformed clergyman and research scholar in history, pastor in Veltheim, canton of Zürich. His writings are distinguished by his wide reading as well as a thorough knowledge of the sources and an objectivity rare at the time. His greater work has the title, Staats- und Erdbeschreibung der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft. For Anabaptist history two of his works come into consideration:

  1. Beyträge zur Erläuterung der Kirchen-Reformations-Geschichten des Schweitzerlandes, enthaltende authentische bishero zum theil ungedruckte, zum theil gantz rare Urkunden, öffentliche Vorträge, Gutachten, Ratschlüsse, Manifeste, Missive, Unterredungen, Verträge, Lehrsätze, Confessionen, Schutz- und Streitschriften, Darinnen die Zwistigkeiten der Römisch-Catholischen, der Lutheraner und der Reformierten, wie auch der Wiedertäufer und anderer Sectierer, auf das klarste an den Tag gelegt werden. Nebst Historisch-Critischen Anmerkungen zur Beschüzung des Seeligen Reformationswerckes herausgegeben von Johann Conrad Fässlin, 3 vols. (Zürich and Leipzig, 1741-1749).
  2. Johann Conrad Fuesslins Cämmers des Capitels zu Winterthur neue und unpartheyische Kirchen- und Ketzerhistorie in der mittleren Zeit (Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1770-74).

The first work contains a mass of historical notices as well as council protocols, orders, and provisions of the Swiss governments concerning the beginnings and the earliest period of the Anabaptist movement, which constitute a valuable supplement to Egli's Aktensammlung. Very worthy of note are the critical notes and commentaries, although in many respects his judgment has been corrected by more recent research.

In the second book the author reveals himself as the Swiss Gottfried Arnold. Under the collective term "Sonderlinge" he discusses the Manichaeans, Cathars, Albigenses, Bogomiles, Waldenses, Mystics, Beguines, Hussites, Adamites, Taborites, Materialists, Pantheists, etc.  He discusses the Deutsche Theologie at length. The rise of Anabaptism he traces back to Müntzer as he had already done in the earlier work: near the end of 1524, while Müntzer was staying not far from Eglisau, he met with Hubmaier, and especially with Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel, and Wilhelm Reublin. "Here adult baptism was agreed upon." But this is not correct (see Grebel). On the whole Füsslin tries to do justice to the Anabaptist movement. He writes, "Some time ago I was involved in a controversy concerning the Anabaptists. The question in dispute is whether the Anabaptists should be reckoned among the anti-Trinitarians and whether Servetus should be reckoned one of them. I denied this categorically and therefore was contradicted by the publisher of the Musaei Helvetici and the deceased chancellor von Mosheim. ... I have in my possession various printed and unprinted Confessions of Faith of the old and the new Anabaptists from Switzerland, Alsace, and the Netherlands, in which they express themselves in such a way on the Trinity of the Godhead, that they can be reckoned among the anti-Trinitarians only with the greatest unreasonableness. . . . Bullinger incorrectly called Servetus an Anabaptist. He erred and did these people (the Anabaptists) a grave injustice. He made the serious mistake of classing all who separated from the Roman Church but did not join the Reformed as Anabaptists" (III, 238).

Anyone who wishes to study the origin and early period of Anabaptism in Switzerland dare not overlook these works of Füsslin.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 22.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Füsslin, Johann Conrad (1704-1775)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 27 Jun 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=F%C3%BCsslin,_Johann_Conrad_(1704-1775)&oldid=145211.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1956). Füsslin, Johann Conrad (1704-1775). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 June 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=F%C3%BCsslin,_Johann_Conrad_(1704-1775)&oldid=145211.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 427-428. All rights reserved.

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