Gurtzham, Hans (d. 1550)

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Hans Gurtzham, a cobbler, was a member of the Anabaptist group at Ortenburg in Carinthia, whose leader was Michael Matschidl, called Kleinmichel. In 1546 he was seized with Matschidl and his wife Lisbeth; the three were examined by two priests, but stood their ground so well that "the others had to retire with shame." The captives were put in chains and taken via Spittal to Drauburg, where they lay in prison for a time, and were then transferred to Vienna. In prison they met the Anabaptist Hans Staudach and three other brethren who were executed on St. Matthew's Day. Hans Gurtzham glorified their death in a hymn. The others were held about three years.

From prison Matschidl wrote a letter to the brotherhood in Moravia, stating their intention to remain true to the end. But Matschidl's end was a peaceful one. A great fire broke out in Vienna, and, as was the custom, the prison doors were opened. Matschidl and his wife escaped to Moravia, but Gurtzham returned to prison. Here he wrote two hymns, "Die Harpfen" and "Das Ortenburger Lied." In the former he describes his own capture and the martyrdom of Staudach. Gurtzham was drowned in the Danube, 27 June 1550. The Geschicht-Buch reports the rumor that before the drowning he was led into a warm room, and as he was sitting behind the stove he quietly left this life, whereupon his corpse was cast into the river.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 167, 194.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 73. Available in full electronic text at:

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 474. Available online at:

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 200.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Geschicht-Buch der Hutterischen Brüder. Macleod, AB, and Vienna, 1923: 267 f.

Author(s) Johann Loserth
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Loserth, Johann. "Gurtzham, Hans (d. 1550)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 25 May 2022.,_Hans_(d._1550)&oldid=168747.

APA style

Loserth, Johann. (1956). Gurtzham, Hans (d. 1550). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 May 2022, from,_Hans_(d._1550)&oldid=168747.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 612. All rights reserved.

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