Pestel, Peter (d. 1536)

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Peter Pestel, an Anabaptist martyr, a shoemaker, a native of Plauen, Saxony, Germany. In the autumn of 1525 he left his native town and arrived at Linz, Austria, at the end of 1529 or in early 1530, where he was won for Anabaptism by Franz Intzinger and baptized with another convert. He married an Anabaptist woman, but she left him when he migrated to Moravia. When persecution became severe in Moravia he returned to his home town. In Hof he was held a prisoner for seven weeks. He was asked to swear that he would not return to the town; he refused, on the ground that swearing is forbidden the Christian. He was nevertheless released. He stayed here only two weeks, in the home of his brother-in-law Balthasar Pintser and continued his way to Schneeberg, where he was employed by Martin Tubler, a shoemaker. Hardly two weeks later, on 23 April 1536, he was arrested and taken to the castle in Zwickau, and on the next day subjected to a cross-examination in the presence of the clergy (Wappler, p. 76). He confessed himself definitely as committed to Anabaptist teaching, and could not be deflected from his faith even by torture; "He would give his life for it." He said he had neither preached nor baptized, but where it was suitable he testified to his faith and reproved "his fellow men of sin"; he vigorously denied that he or his companions had stirred up revolt, conspiracy, or sedition. Then he was given Melanchthon's booklet, Verlegung etlicher unchristlicher Artikel Welche die Widderteuffer fürgeben (Wittenberg, about 1536), which had appeared at the same time as the electoral mandate. After reading it he gave the jailer the reply that there was not a true word in the booklet, that he had no fear of the mandate issued against the Anabaptists, for he had committed himself entirely to his heavenly Father. He would stand by this position. This state of affairs was reported to Johann Friedrich I, Elector of Saxony, who turned the records over to the court in Wittenberg with the request that they pass the sentence. On the next day the sentence was read: Peter Pestel should be executed with the sword because of his heretical views on communion, that in the emblems the body and blood of Christ were not given out, on the person of Christ, that He had not received His flesh from Mary, and on government, that a Christian may not pass sentence as a ruler. The reasons given for the death sentence struck the elector as rather dubious; he could not agree that a man should be put to death merely on account of erroneous religious opinions. But his chancellor Bruck also favored the death penalty, arguing that Peter Pestel should be punished as an obstinate heretic and a violator of the imperial laws. The elector, however, drew up the denth sentence himself and sent it to Zwickau, to the effect that Peter Pestel should be executed with the sword, in accord with the edict of Speyer of 1529. In vain the brother of the condemned man, Valentin Pestel of Plauen, and a cousin Anthonius Pestel, who was the elector's secretary, appealed for modification. The sentence was carried out on 16 June 1536, in Zwickau.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 351.

Wappler, Paul. Inquisition und Ketzerprozesse in Zwickau zur Reformationszeit. Leipzig, 1908: 70-84.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1959

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Neff, Christian. "Pestel, Peter (d. 1536)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 Sep 2023.,_Peter_(d._1536)&oldid=145989.

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Neff, Christian. (1959). Pestel, Peter (d. 1536). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 September 2023, from,_Peter_(d._1536)&oldid=145989.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 148-149. All rights reserved.

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