Jan van Geelen (d. 1535)

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Jan van Geelen (Jan van Geel, Johan van Geyl, Hansken van Gelen, once called Hansken Lukener), a partisan of Jan van Leyden, a former sol­dier, a resident of Deventer, went from there to Münster early in 1534 and became the doorman of Queen Divara. On 24 December 1534, he left the city with three companions, equipped with money and a thousand copies of Rothmann's Van der Wraecke (revenge) for distribution. In the Netherlands he propagandized for the cause of the Münsterite king­dom and everywhere handed out money for the purchase of arms. He was sent to the Nether­lands by Jan van Leyden specifically to create revo­lution there in order to detract attention from Mün­ster. Early in January 1535 he came to Amsterdam. Here the "banner of justice" was to fly, i.e., the signal for revolution given. But among the Ana­baptists he met resistance. Their bishop, Jacob van Campen, would not be persuaded. Also the conference at Spaarndam, where 32 Anabaptist preachers met in the middle of December 1534 or early in January 1535, rejected his plans. At the end of January 1535 he was in Antwerp, Belgium, where he had a number of adherents; then he be­came active in the Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen, and Utrecht, where he succeeded in stirring up sedition (Olde Klooster near Bolsward, Warfum, and in the territory of IJsselstein). At Amsterdam he even contacted Pieter van Montfoort, a young priest, who was the ambassador of the Spanish government of Brussels (April 1535), and through deceit and cunning he obtained safe con­duct from him to continue his criminal activity. He sent word to his wife Fenneken at Deventer that unless she had herself baptized he would disown her. She complied, and on April 17 suffered a mar­tyr's death by drowning in the IJssel. Van Geelens efforts to create revolution throughout the Nether­lands had but small success. He was partially suc­cessful in Friesland, where the Oldeklooster was taken by a band of revolutionaries, but in Gro­ningen at Warfum a similar attempt failed. In South Holland, where van Geelen had a number of followers, especially in the small town of Benschop plans were continued to attack Woerden, Oudewater, and Leiden, but both because of lack of organization and insufficient numbers these grand revolutionary plans completely failed. He planned a major attack on Amsterdam, secretly call­ing the Anabaptists from everywhere in the Nether­lands. But most of the Anabaptists were not revolu­tion-minded, and stayed at home. Van Geelen, in bitter disappointment, nevertheless pressed the at­tack. On the night of 10 May 1535, followed only by 32 men, he assaulted the city hall of Amsterdam. Jan van Geelen himself was killed in the storm of the city hall, and the survivors were all executed.


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Author(s) Christian Neff
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Jan van Geelen (d. 1535)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 3 Oct 2022. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jan_van_Geelen_(d._1535)&oldid=147905.

APA style

Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1957). Jan van Geelen (d. 1535). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 October 2022, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jan_van_Geelen_(d._1535)&oldid=147905.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 74. All rights reserved.

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