Maastricht (Limburg, Netherlands)

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Maastricht, capital (1951 pop. 80,000; 2005 pop. 121,500) of the Dutch province of Limburg. The soil had been well prepared for the Anabaptist movement, for the city had been a center of the Beghards and Beguines in the Middle Ages.

As in the duchy of Jülich, there was in Maastricht a separatist brotherhood at least by 1527, which called itself the "Christian Brethren"; the arrest of a member was reported in that year. It is possible—Habets considers it very probable—that this was an Anabaptist group. In doctrine they were at least closely related to the Swiss Brethren. They avoided public church services, observed communion in its primitive form, and gathered to study the Bible; they did not make use of the courts. But there is no record that they practiced adult baptism. When they were noticed by the authorities they were accused of "Lutheran heresy"; this of course does not prove that they were Lutheran. They were more likely Sacramentists. The brotherhood had a strong following in the guilds. Their leaders were Jan Berne, Merten Goltsmeth, Meess Droegescherer, Paes Tymermans, and Jan van Genck.

About 1530 there were Anabaptists in Maastricht. The group grew rapidly, numbering over 100 by 1533. It was visited in 1533 by Hendrik van Tongeren (also called Slachtscaep), a traveling Anabaptist preacher. In the same year Gys van Rotheim and other Anabaptist leaders from abroad visited the Anabaptist group at Maastricht, of which Jan Smeitgen and Ruth Ketelbueters were the leaders. Of greater importance to them was Henric Rol, a preacher who had left Münster, and now led them, quietly and intelligently, as a "bishop." Though he worked very quietly, he did not escape the authorities. He was taken prisoner on 2 September 1534, and burned at the stake in Maastricht shortly after. Then Jan Smeitgen took his place. In January 1535 a severe persecution broke upon them, and 16 persons were executed. Only three of them, Lysken Ketelbueters, Bartholomeus van den Berge, and his wife Mente Jan Heynendochter, remained steadfast, and were burned at the stake; the other 13 recanted and were beheaded. The peaceful principles preached by Rol obviously were not maintained, since the Münsterite booklet Van der Wrake had been read during the meetings of the congregation. It is known that 54 fled, some of them to Antwerp (among them Jan Smeitgen), and the congregation became extinct, though there were some Anabaptists in the city later on. Jan van Bemelen was executed at Maastricht in 1538; Lenaert de Schoolmeester preached here in 1540 and the elder and martyr Theunis von Hastenrath baptized two women here before 1551. Van Braght names as martyrs from Maastricht Trijnken Keuts and Jan Durps, a weaver in 1559; Arent van Essen and his wife Ursel, and the aged Neeltgen and her daughter Trijnken in 1570. And in 1573 Marie Kerckhoffs, not named by van Braght, suffered martyrdom here.

Because of the mandate (30 November 1652) issued by Wolfgang Wilhelm, Duke of Jülich, the Mennonites found themselves compelled to leave the duchy. Some of them settled in Maastricht, where they more or less in concealment formed a brotherhood. The name of the congregation varied; sometimes it was known by the name of Maastricht, sometimes Burtscheid (Botschert), or Vaals. In Vaals, in the extreme southeast near the German border, there was a meetinghouse. The congregation was served by the following preachers: Pieter van Limburg ca. 1684-1697, Jacobus van Hoorn ? -1710, Joannes Helgers 1711-d. 1714, Pieter Staal 1747-1787, Cornelis de Haan 1787-1791, and Bernardus Cremer 1792-1795. When the preacher Pieter Staal moved away from Burtscheid to Maastricht in 1768, the Burtscheid-Vaals group separated and soon expired. By 1795 the meetinghouse in Vaals was no longer in use. Nothing is known of a meetinghouse at Maastricht.

The congregation at Maastricht was also small. After 1795 it had no preacher. Their considerable capital was managed by a notary. In 1828 only one member was left. In 1864 the property was taken over by the Dutch government. All attempts to prevent the confiscation as well as later attempts to regain the property failed. The Mennonites now living in Maastricht have no connection with the earlier congregation and belong to the congregation of South Limburg, also called Heerlen.


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Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Maastricht (Limburg, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 5 Jul 2022.,_Netherlands)&oldid=144298.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Maastricht (Limburg, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 July 2022, from,_Netherlands)&oldid=144298.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 428-429. All rights reserved.

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