Netherlands States-General

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The Netherlands States-General, the highest legislative and executive power in the Netherlands in the 16th-18th centuries, repeatedly acted on behalf of the oppressed and persecuted Mennonites abroad.

On 19 February 1660 the States-General addressed the magistrates of Zürich, Switzerland, to demand for the Mennonites in this canton free departure with their property. On the same date a letter was sent to the magistrates of Bern, Switzerland, with an urgent request to release the arrested Mennonites. In 1687 the States-General sent Adolf de Vreede, a Dutch Mennonite, as an ambassador to Bern, to inquire into the conditions of the Mennonites, many of whom were then imprisoned in Bern. On 24 March 1695 the States-General sent a message to John William, Palatine Elector, in behalf of the oppressed Mennonites in this territory, asking compensation for the property confiscated from the Mennonites, and on 24 June 1695 passed a resolution to intervene with John William on behalf of the Mennonites in the duchy of Jülich, Germany.

On 10 March 1710 a letter was sent to the government of Bern, interceding for the persecuted Bernese Anabaptists. Upon a petition by the Dutch Mennonites, the States-General resolved to instruct Louis Runckel, their delegate in Switzerland, at Schaffhausen, to compile a complete list of the Mennonites then in prison for their faith, and to be concerned for the interests of the Swiss Mennonites. The expenses of this work by Runckel were defrayed by the States-General. Again and again the secretary of the States-General corresponded with Runckel, and the [[Amsterdam Mennonite Library (Bibliotheek en Archief van de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Amsterdam)|Mennonite archives of Amsterdam]] contain a large number of copies of letters by Runckel on the situation of the Bernese Anabaptists. When the government of Bern finally decided to deport a number of Mennonites to America, these were released by order of the States General when the boats on which they were transported down the Rhine arrived at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Again on 22 January 1715, the States-General interceded by letter with the Bernese magistrates in favor of the Mennonites who were still oppressed.

In 1732 the Dutch Mennonites drew the attention of the States-General to the situation of the East Prussian (Lithuanian) Mennonites, who were persecuted by Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. On 22 April 1732 the States-General contacted Reinier van Reede tot Ginckel, their ambassador in Berlin, instructing him to present to the king a request which emphatically demanded that the privilege of religious freedom for the Mennonites be maintained and persecution cease. An extended correspondence between Ginckel and the Dutch States-General during the years 1732-1738 shows what was done and how seriously the States-General was concerned with the interests of the East Prussian Mennonites.

Finally on 23 December 1749 a resolution was passed by the States-General to intervene with the king of Poland on behalf of the Mennonites in West Prussia, especially those in Danzig, who were in serious difficulty with the Polish officials. On this matter there are also many letters in the Amsterdam Mennonite archives showing how C. van Gemert, representative of the Dutch States-General at Danzig, and C. Calkoen, their ambassador at Dresden, defended the interests of the Mennonites in this area.


Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 832-836.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 1131 ff.. Available online at:

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884:  Nos. 1746-1865.

Müller, Ernst. Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Frauenfeld: Huber, 1895. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. de Graaf, 1972: 67, 184, 185-187, 193 f., 259-70, 280, 283.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Netherlands States-General." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 7 Dec 2023.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1957). Netherlands States-General. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 843. All rights reserved.

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