Pappenheim, Marschalk von

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Marschalk von Pappenheim was a noble family of the 16th century and later, manorial lords of Kalden in South Germany, prominently connected with Pilgram Marpeck and distantly also with Caspar von Schwenckfeld. Several members of this very distinguished family were patrons of Marpeck, mainly during his Augsburg period (after 1540), and three ladies were even members of the Marpeck Anabaptist brotherhood.

Joachim, Marschalk von Pappenheim (d. 1536), who played a significant role in the political life of his day in favoring the new Protestant movement, seems to have been the first of this family to come into contact with Marpeck.

His sister Magdalena, a nun of the Benedictine order in the convent at Urspring in Swabia, is perhaps the most important of the Pappenheims as far as the Anabaptists were concerned. She was drawn to Schwenckfeld and apparently had expressed her desire to meet him. Something changed her mind, however, for no meeting took place. Instead Schwenckfeld received a document bearing her name, but in all likelihood drafted by Pilgram Marpeck. In a letter dated 21 August 1542, he expressed his regret that she was no longer interested in discoursing with him. He explained that he was not preaching a "proud Christ," and pointed out some of Pilgram's errors to her. Schwenckfeld suspected that she had never read any of his books, but was relying for her opinion of him on Marpeck. To correct this he was sending her a copy of a tract written by Ickelsamer against Marpeck's alleged view that Christ could have sinned. Also he indicated to Magdalena why he wrote the Judicium against the Vermanung. This letter (CS VIII: 217-22) should not be regarded as an accurate description of Marpeck's views since Schwenckfeld's aim was to draw Magdalena from Marpeck's influence.

In the letter to Pilgram Marpeck written 25 September 1542, Schwenckfeld defended his action by saying that Marpeck had been depreciating him to Magdalena and others and had thus arrested Magdalena's spiritual growth. His letter was merely an attempt to show Magdalena how much more correct his view of Christ was than Marpeck's. Apparently Magdalena continued this role as a go-between for Marpeck and Schwenckfeld, for on 27 May 1543, Schwenckfeld wrote to Helene von Freyberg requesting her to give his reply either to Magdalena von Pappenheim or to Pilgram, since he did not know where to look for Pilgram.

On 25 September 1542, Schwenckfeld wrote a second letter to Magdalena. Her reply to Schwenckfeld's first letter, admonishing Schwenckfeld to read the New Testament more diligently and defending Marpeck, prompted Schwenckfeld to reply with a list of twelve errors of which Pilgram was guilty. Apparently this was the last exchange of letters between Magdalena and Schwenckfeld, although Magdalena replied indirectly to Schwenckfeld in a letter to Helena Streicher (preserved in the Zentralbibliothek at Zürich). It thus becomes apparent that Magdalena was strategic in the literary battle between Marpeck and Schwenckfeld, in which some rather crucial issues were debated. In this struggle Magdalena Streicher remained on Schwenckfeld's side, while the Pappenheims and Helene von Freyberg stayed with the Marpeck brotherhood.

In 1545 Marpeck wrote a letter to Magdalena in Augsburg, "Concerning those who die in sin." This letter was recently discovered in a codex of the Marpeck brotherhood called Kunstbuch, copied in 1561. Again on 9 December 1547, he wrote to her on the theme, "Von dreierlei menschen so sich im gericht finden," also concerning the rural nobility (Kunstbuch, No. 38). These two letters together with the earlier correspondence prove Marpeck's high regard for this "sister in Christ."

After her death (1571?) Magdalena's copy of the Verantwortung came into the possession of her niece Walpurga, Marschalkin von Pappenheim, daughter of Joachim, who had likewise joined the Anabaptists. Schwenckfeld's reaction to her becoming an Anabaptist is found in a variant reading of a manuscript containing a letter to Sibilla Eisler, dated after 15 April 1550. Discussing the way in which many Anabaptists had been tricked into giving up their property, then been disillusioned by the Hutterian Brethren, he said that he had heard that Walpurga von Calde (a Marschalkin) had secretly stolen away from her sister's wedding and gone to Switzerland, and would not return unless safety be guaranteed her. Apparently she had left much wealth, and this along with the confidence with which she replied to her friends surprised Schwenckfeld. He called her "Pilgram's sister" (CS XII: 41). The beautiful Zürich codex of the Verantwortung bears the note: "Walpurga Marschälkin, 1571" (Loserth). Walpurga is also known as the writer of an Anabaptist hymn, "Du glaubigs hertz, so benedey" (Wolkan, Lieder: 124). Beyond this not much is known about her activities.

A third member of this family was Sophie, who had married a Baron von Bubenhofen (South Germany). Of her we know only through a letter in the Kunstbuch (No. 36) by Hans Bichel of Waiblingen, Württemberg, written to her on 7 January 1555, dealing with her spiritual improvement. Since this letter was carefully preserved, it may be assumed that Sophie was also an active member of the Marpeck brotherhood somewhere in Bavaria or Swabia.

The story of the Pappenheims is remarkable because not many noble families are known to have shown positive interest in the Anabaptist way of life to the point of sacrifice. (But see Freyberg, Helene von.)


Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. 56v. Leipzig, 1875-1912 (under "Pappenheim").

Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum VII, 35; VIII, 216-22, 280 f.; XII, 41.

Fast, Heinold. "Pilgram Marpeck und das oberdeutsche Täufertum. Ein neuer Handschriftenfund." Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte (1956): 212-42 (concerning the Kunstbuch).

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 333.

Marpeck, Pilgram. Verantwortung in Pilgram Marbecks Antwort auf Kaspar Schwenckfelds Beurteilung der Bundesbezeugung von 1542, ed. J. Loserth. Vienna: Carl Fromme, 1929.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965.

Author(s) Christian, Robert Friedmann Hege
William Klassen
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Hege, Christian, Robert Friedmann and William Klassen. "Pappenheim, Marschalk von." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 24 Jun 2021.,_Marschalk_von&oldid=144546.

APA style

Hege, Christian, Robert Friedmann and William Klassen. (1959). Pappenheim, Marschalk von. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2021, from,_Marschalk_von&oldid=144546.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 115-116. All rights reserved.

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