Künigl, Wolfgang (16th century)

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Master Wolfgang Künigl was a royal procurator in Austria. It is not known whether he belonged to the noble house of that name. From the court records of the Anabaptists in Austria on and below the Enns we learn that in the persecution of the Anabaptists in 1527-1528 he played a role which was not pleasant to him, as court prosecutor.

King Ferdinand was shocked by the increasing Anabaptist movement in his Austrian hereditary lands. From all sides came word that the authorities were lax toward the ecclesiastical innovations, and that Austria was the hotbed of sectarianism. Therefore Ferdinand issued not only the general mandate of 28 August 1527 but also many special mandates, obliging the officials to persecute the Anabaptists.

In October 1527 Wolfgang Künigl received instructions to cross-examine the Anabaptists imprisoned in Steyr and Freistadt and to proceed according to the mandates. On 29 October he began his work in Styria. The case was to be tried in the presence of representatives of the five cities. Of unusual interest is the report he sent three days later to the governor and regents of the cantons of Lower Austria. He related what had taken place in Steyr, and recommended for persons of their type a fine instead of the penalty of Horb and Rottenburg, which was degrading, and would cause many prisoners to escape, deserting their families. There were, to be sure, people who deserved a more severe sentence than that of Horb, people who say the sacrament is mere bread and disregard baptism. There were Anabaptists held secretly, not yet put into prison, by abbots, noblemen, and prelates. At Melk it was no better; two Melk citizens had conducted Hans Hut to Steyr.

Two days later he reported that more Anabaptists were reported every day. If he would proceed with the Horb penalty they would all run away, and a great insurrection might take place. This could be avoided by levying a fine. With the Horb penalty he would not be sure of his life. In other words, he hoped to be able to persuade the prisoners to recant, and earn the lighter penalty; the obstinate would be punished in accord with the mandates. But the king disagreed. One could be lenient only in the case of the young and simple.

On 16 November Künigl came to Freistadt. There the magistrate had not made the necessary provisions, for he thought he did not have the right to take steps against Anabaptists, not having the "regalia." Künigl was quite annoyed by his dealings with these Upper Austrian citizens. Here in Freistadt all had recanted. He requested that the Horb penalty be lightened.

Since the authorities inferred from Künigl's letters that many Anabaptists had fled, a special mandate was sent out on 23 December 1527, making it a crime to shelter or feed fugitive Anabaptists. Not until February 1528 was the case against the Freistadt Anabaptists continued, and Künigl was again appointed to conduct the prosecution. On 8 April the accused swore to leave the country.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 585 f.

Jakel, J. Zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer in Oberüsterreich. Report 47 of the Francisco-Carolinum. Linz, 1889.

Author(s) Johann Loserth
Date Published 1958

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MLA style

Loserth, Johann. "Künigl, Wolfgang (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 3 Aug 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=K%C3%BCnigl,_Wolfgang_(16th_century)&oldid=145663.

APA style

Loserth, Johann. (1958). Künigl, Wolfgang (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 August 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=K%C3%BCnigl,_Wolfgang_(16th_century)&oldid=145663.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 258. All rights reserved.

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