Signau (Bern, Switzerland)

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Signau, a large village and former government center (Landvogtei) in the Emmental, Swiss canton of Bern, where the Anabaptists early found adherents. At the great Anabaptist colloquy at Bern in 1538 Hans Krähenbühl represented the Signau congregation. A formal hunt was organized against the Anabaptists in the Emmental in these years, which was very rewarding in Signau, the bailiff of the Emmental receiving six pounds, and another man eight pounds for hunting Anabaptists there. About five persons were put to death in the Signau district in 1537-1566, among them the well-known Wälti Gerber of Röthenbach (which belonged to Signau), who was beheaded in Bern on 30 July 1566. Strict orders from Bern that the Anabaptists were to be punished were sent to the Signau district in 1564; these regulations were even proclaimed from the pulpits. Bernetta Blindenbach was taken from Signau to Bern the second time in 1566, and imprisoned and tortured because she refused to name her brethren.

In the 17th century also the Anabaptist movement spread in Signau. The ancient mandates were renewed. In February 1649 the Mennonite preacher Joseph Widmer was caught in the territory of Signau and taken prisoner to Bern. Among the Mennonite preachers delivered in chains to the new penitentiary and orphanage in Bern was Hans Zaugg of Signau, All of this indicates that the Anabaptist movement was comparatively strong in the region of Signau. Johannes Frisching, magistrate at Signau, wrote to Bern in 1663 that his subordinate officers were unwilling to be used in the seizure of Mennonites on account of blood relationship. Among the Mennonites expelled from the canton in the 18th century there were many from the territory of Signau.


Geiser, Samuel. Die Taufgesinnten-Gerneinden. Karlsruhe, 1931.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 168-169.

Author(s) Samuel Geiser
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Geiser, Samuel. "Signau (Bern, Switzerland)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 23 Jul 2024.,_Switzerland)&oldid=146246.

APA style

Geiser, Samuel. (1959). Signau (Bern, Switzerland). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 July 2024, from,_Switzerland)&oldid=146246.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 525. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.