Horb am Neckar (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)

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Horb, a town (population 2,800 in 1956; 6,000 in 2008) of Württemberg, Germany, situated on the Neckar, had a tempestuous period in the early decades of the Reformation. From December 1522 to the beginning of March 1523, Karsthans, who was probably Johann Murer (Maurer), a native of Horb, worked here for the new (Lutheran) faith as a lay preacher and won some adherents. In addition, the Protestant schoolteacher, Aegidius Krautwasser, praised by Johann Eberlin as an exponent of the Gospel, had come to Horb from Stuttgart. A canon of the Heiligkreuzstift, Konrad Starzler, had expressed his Protestant convictions in three pamphlets, but later recanted.

Concerning the imprisoned Karsthans, of whom he expected constancy in the faith, Sebastian Lotzer, a furrier and a native of Horb, wrote from Memmingen in the middle of March 1523: Ain hailsame Ermanung an die ynwoner zu Horw, das sy bestendig belyben an dem hailigen wort gottes mit anzaigung der göttlichen hailigen geschrift. He admonished his countrymen that he who had two coats should sell one and buy a New Testament. Then he examined fasting, holy days, indulgences, and the worship of the saints in agreement with Luther's interpretation. When his father wrote him that his pamphlets had aroused much antagonism among the populace, he wrote a second pamphlet entitled Ain christlicher sendbrief, darin angezaigt wirt, ds die layen macht und recht haben von dem hailigen wort gots reden, leren und schreiben . . . (1523). He points his father to Christ as the Saviour, distinguishes clearly between the church faith and justifying faith, which is proved by good works. Against the assertion of his opponents that the layman must not concern himself with the Scriptures because he does not understand them, he cites the promise: Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth. Then in opposition to the natural man's fear of suffering he demands open confession of faith, even if it is dangerous. Waiting for a decision of council is superfluous for him who hears the Word of God and buys a New Testament; that is sufficient council. The government does not approve of laymen's discussing and writing on sacred subjects. Lotzer's writings must have made considerable impression on Horb, for on 30 September 1523, the Hofrat in Innsbruck reported to Archduke Ferdinand that the Protestant movement was making rapid strides in Horb.

In the spring of 1526 Wilhelm Reublin, of Rottenburg, came to Lotzer's home town and won many friends for, the Anabaptists. In Horb, too, he found many adherents; he baptized in 25 homes. Ludwig Scheurer of Reutlingen he baptized at a well in a field near the Neuneckerhalde, dipping water with his hands and pouring it on Scheurer's head. Then he called his friend Michael Sattler from Strasbourg to Horb.

In the middle of February the government became aware of the Anabaptists. Reublin escaped to Reutlingen and to Esslingen. But his wife, Sattler and his wife, Veit Feringer, and Matthias Hiller, a furrier of St. Gall, were seized at the end of February. Because the authorities feared that the multitude of adherents might create a disturbance, the prisoners were taken to Binsdorf. After eleven weeks of imprisonment Sattler, Feringer, and Hiller were taken to Rottenburg with an escort of 56 foot soldiers. Sattler died at the stake there on 21 May 1527; three of his adherents including Hiller were beheaded, and his wife was drowned in the Neckar on the next day; Feringer had recanted, but withdrew his recantation and was held thirteen and one-half years imprisoned in Schömberg. Reublin's wife and child lay in prison in Ihlingen and Horb.

On 31 May 1527 Capito wrote to the council in Horb, that they should defend the prisoners against the Austrian government; though they erred in some points they were not blasphemers whom the government had to punish, unless it was blasphemy to avoid gambling, excessive drinking and eating, adultery, war, killing, slander of one's neighbor, and living according to the lusts of the flesh. At the same time he wrote to the prisoners, urging them to desist from their error concerning the oath, holding government office, and the rejection of force, but comforted them in their suffering and encouraged them to pray for their enemies and to lose all hate for them. These letters of Capito's are examples of the most beautiful testimonials of the Christian spirit.

Nowhere is there a suggestion that Reublin showed any concern for his wife; but on 19 June 1527, Zürich sent a request to the authorities of Horb on behalf of their fellow citizen Adelheid Lehmann. The letter played up her foolish simplicity; she was only a poor woman who had been misled by her husband. The Austrian government had no inkling that the woman in question was Reublin's wife. On 21 June the Horb authorities replied that the woman was in the prison of the prince and out of their jurisdiction. Many petitions for clemency were presented. On 14 June the government gave the information that those who had escaped must surrender unconditionally and could not sell their possessions. At the same time an attempt was made to lure them home; for it was hoped that with their help the Anabaptist leaders might be betrayed into government hands. They even promised that any who delivered Bällin and Küeffer to the authorities would be unconditionally pardoned.

On 17 July court was again held in Horb, guarded by 90 foot soldiers. Twenty-four men and women were accused of Anabaptist adherence. All of them were led to recant. On the market place a framework was set up, and there the defendants had to swear before a notary and trustworthy witnesses that they would abandon their error and faithfully and zealously adhere to the holy Christian Church and its regulations to the end of their lives. On the next seven Sundays they were to gather at the altar at the early Mass, with bare feet, bare heads, and loose hair, in gray wool apparel on which the baptismal font was painted in white, and in the customary procession walk around the church before the cross. As a sign of penitence they had to carry in their left hands a rod, in their right a lighted candle, and after the procession kneel before the altar; there they should receive absolution from the priest with three blows, and remain on their knees until the end of the Mass. Their gray clothing they must wear a year and a day. On certain days they must go to the confessional and to communion. For the rest of their life they must avoid all public and private society in or outside the houses, could carry no weapons but a broken bread knife. Finally they could not without permission leave the town of Horb. The fine levied upon them was heavy.

That which the Anabaptists could be compelled to yield to was merely the ceremony of the church and submission to the priest. A clear confession of their error, a renewed love for the church, whose service was hard, could not be secured by compulsion. We do not hear that the clergy were requested to win their spirits by indoctrination.

Many Anabaptists had fled from Horb, especially to Strasbourg. Jörg Lederlin, whom Reublin had baptized, was there. In his house the Anabaptists met. He rejected communion, because Christ had not commanded that His example be followed. Hans Frisch of Horb was the treasurer of the Anabaptists in Strasbourg; Thomas Schomer's property was confiscated; but his clever mother had all his movable goods taken to her house at night and sent on to Strasbourg. In Switzerland a Hans from Horb appears as an Anabaptist.

The government had indeed been victorious over the Protestant and Anabaptist movement; but it could not be sure that no new opponents of the old church would appear, and had to observe that a wildness took possession of the populace, and murder increased, while the Anabaptists in the Hohenberg could not be charged with wrongdoing, deceit, thievery, drunkenness, or vice.


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Egli, Emil. Die Züricher Wiedertäufer zur Reformationszeit: nach den Quellen des Staatsarchivs. Zürich: Friedrich Schulthess, 1878.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff.  Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 346-48.

Hulshof, Abram. Geschiedenis van de Doopsgezinden te Straatsburg van 1525 tot 1557:   Academisch proefschrift... Amsterdam: J. Clausen, drukker van het Amsterdamsch studentencorps, 1905.

Muralt, Leonhard von and Walter Schmid. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz. Erster Band: Zürich. Zürich: S. Hirzel, 1952.

Author(s) Gustav, Sr. Bossert
Date Published 1956

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bossert, Gustav, Sr.. "Horb am Neckar (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 15 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Horb_am_Neckar_(Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg,_Germany)&oldid=168259.

APA style

Bossert, Gustav, Sr.. (1956). Horb am Neckar (Baden-Württemberg, Germany). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Horb_am_Neckar_(Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg,_Germany)&oldid=168259.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 811-812. All rights reserved.

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