Knuyt, Francois de (17th century)

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Francois de Knuyt, a Mennonite elder at Zierikzee in the Dutch province of Zeeland in the first third of the 17th century, was a lover of peace and possessed great gifts. Repeatedly he disputed with Reformed preachers; in 1617 he debated with Abraham Stamperius at Sommelsdijk on infant baptism. By trade he was a fuller. He traveled much; on one of his journeys he was arrested in April 1615 and imprisoned at Aardenburg, because he had contacted the Mennonites here, preaching against the express interdiction of the city government. De Knuyt seems to have been influenced by the Flemish elder Jacques Outerman, while he in turn to some degree influenced Galenus Abrahamsz, who was a native of Zierikzee, where de Knuyt lived.

De Knuyt was a convinced exponent of silent prayer, which was then in the process of being replaced by audible prayer by the preacher. Hans de Ries was an influential and ardent advocate of audible prayer. De Knuyt opposed it publicly, and wrote against it in his book, Onder Verbeteringhe. Een corte bekenntnisse onses geloofs (1618 and reprinted in 1623, 1635, 1642, 1648, 1684, and 1709). In the later reprints the confession is supplemented by his devotional hymns.

Outside his own circle de Knuyt found an opponent, Godefridus Udemans, a Reformed preacher at Middelburg, who felt obliged to publish a 380-page book against him (Noodige Verbeteringhe . . . 1620). Later Aernout van Geluwe, a Catholic bookseller in Gent, opposed him with a book titled Een onverwinnelijcke schriftmathige roomsch catholijche belijdenisse des geloofs . . . teghen de onschrijt- mathighe belijdenisse der nieuwgesinde Wederdooperen . . . (Antwerp, 1654).


Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht en Gelderland. Amsterdam: P.N. van Kampen, 1847: I, 194 f, 216.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1876): 86; (1877): 25 f., 42, note; (1897): 106-109, 114  f., 117; (1898): 57, 73-76; (1908): 106.

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje  (1837): 65.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 516.

Meihuizen, H. W. Galenus Abrahamsz Haarlem, 1954: 12-15, 18, 25.

Visscher, H. and L. A. van Langeraad. Biographisch Woordenboek von Protestantsche Godgeleerden in Nederland. Utrecht, 1903: V, 69-72.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Knuyt, Francois de (17th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 30 Jul 2021.,_Francois_de_(17th_century)&oldid=145589.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Knuyt, Francois de (17th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 30 July 2021, from,_Francois_de_(17th_century)&oldid=145589.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 209-210. All rights reserved.

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