Stadler, Ulrich (d. 1540)

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Ulrich Stadler (died 1540), a Hutterite leader, one of the strongest personalities of the first generation of Anabaptism, next to Peter Riedemann the best theological thinker of the Moravian groups, a man of stern conceptions of true discipleship. He was born in Brixen, Tyrol, and became a mining official in Sterzing. In the early 1520's he turned Lutheran, but soon joined the Anabaptists of Sterzing. When persecution became unbearable, he moved to Moravia (date not known). At first he became a member of the Austerlitz Bruderhof, which (when a group of Tiroleans left it for Auspitz) came under the leadership of Jakob Wideman in 1531. In 1535, when persecution also set in in Moravia, Stadler and his co-worker Leonhard Lochmaier, together with a group of Austerlitz brethren, sought refuge in Poland. Two Bruderhofs were established there under his supervision in 1535-37: in Ladomir in Podolia (south of Volhynia) near the Galician border and in Krasnikow (in the sources Krasnicktau) in Lodomeria, then a small independent principality in the Volhynian area. A letter "To the Authorities, in Poland" shows that he encountered much tribulation here too, in spite of the renowned tolerance of Polish nobles. In 1537, when persecution in Moravia had ceased, he and Lochmaier returned there with about one hundred persons, surviving many dangers on this return march. In Bucovic, east of Austerlitz, he established a Bruderhof of his own. At that time Hans Amon was the Vorsteher of the Hutterites and their only leader; Stadler visited him and after long talks organically joined the Hutterite brotherhood. He then served as the Vorsteher of the Bucovic Hutterite settlement 1537-died 1540.

Stadler's numerous writings can be found in many Hutterite codices both in Europe and in America. Their numbering is difficult since pieces are put together or separated as the copyist felt moved. Here is the list as complete as possible:

(1) Vom lebendigen Wort und geschriebenen, ein kurzer Unterschied und Bericht (Lydia Müller, Glaubenszeugnisse I, 212-15). (2) Eingang ins Christentum, written in the form of an epistle: "Unsern herzlieben Brüdern und Geschwistrigeten, wo sie seind nach Gottes Willen, zu Handen" (Glaubenszeugnisse I, shortened, 227-28; Alker in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 1955, 233-36, complete). (3) Was der Tauff sei . . . auch vom Bundt unsres Herrn Jesu Christo mit seiner Braut. (4) Gott der gnädige und langmütige Vater . . . (only in the codex of Vienna, fol. 1-14).

Two church regulations: (5) Eine liebe Unterrichtung Ulrich Stadlers der Sünden halben, auch des Ausschlusses und wie er darin steht, auch der Gemeinschaft der Güter halben (Glaubenszeugnisse I, 215-27). (The last part of this piece, called "Von der Ordnung der Heiligen in ihrer Gemeinschaft und Leben mit den Gütern ihres Vaters allhie," was published twice: in Glaubenszeugnisse I, 222-27, and in Wolkan, Die Huterer, 153-60.) (6) Was die Gemeinschaft Christi heisst in seinem Leib und Blut, eine Ordnung im Haus Gottes (found only in manuscript copies in Canada). This piece contains also a section: Vom ehelichen Stande—sechs Artikel (to be published in Glaubenszeugnisse II).

(7) Four epistles "geschrieben von Ladomir in Podolien gen Krasnicktau auf Grenz Polen": (a) An den Bruder Michael, von der Erbsünde, ein kurzer und doch gründlicher Bericht (Glaubenszeugnisse I, 228-32). (b) Ein ander Sendbrief über die Erbsünde, Red und Widerred (ibid., 233). (c) Ein Sendbrief den Fremdlingen und Bilgramen geen Crasnicktau in Polin, am Lichtmess 1536 (February 2) (in the same place, 235 f.). (d) Ein kurzer Mahnbrief (found only in Canadian copies).

Stadler's Teachings: (A) Theological Issues: (1) Original Sin. Stadler is one of the very few Anabaptists ever to discuss this doctrine. He knows that the term itself cannot be found in the Scriptures. Although he strongly pleads for a life of purity ("Be pure as newborn babes," I Peter 2:2), he condemns those who think that life without sin is possible. Man, however, can fight the tendencies toward sin, if only he allows the spirit to dominate and to discipline the flesh. Tribulations are the disciple's way to this end. "Whatever does not come out of faith, is sin." (For further details see Original Sin.)

(2) Inner and Outer Word. Stadler might be called the foremost authority on this central issue of early Anabaptism, having written a special tract on this subject (item 1 above). One might call his position "Biblical Spiritualism," something distinctly different from both "pure" Spiritualism and later legalism. Also in his second tract above he stresses the primacy of the inwardness of Christ in the believer (Alker's text, 235). For a full exposition of Stadler's understanding of this point, see Bible: Inner and Outer Word.

(B) The Church: (1) Community of Goods. Stadler's tract "Von der Ordnung der Heiligen" (above 5) might be regarded as the classical expression of this idea of full Christian sharing in the brotherhood-church. It is an original contribution of high spirituality, quite independent of Jacob Hutter's teaching on that point. Stadler's main argument here is the idea of Gelassenheit, a term more often used by him than by any other Anabaptist (except perhaps Hans Haffner). Of a true disciple of Christ he expects a "free, detached, resigned heart," which had died to the world and is dedicated alone to the Lord and the brethren (Glaubenszeugnisse I, 225f.). That a life of that kind needs rigid discipline he stresses time and again, quite in accord with his idea of purity and fighting sin.

(2) The functions of the "Servant of the Lord" (Diener des Herren), Stadler's term for "Vorsteher" or "bishop." The classical exposition of his concept of such a leader and shepherd is found in his paragraph concerning excommunication (Ausschluss, in Glaubenszeugnisse I, 220-21): "The servant ought to have the power to punish all self-willed, disobedient members." One gets the strong impression that his conception of leadership approximates that of a prior or abbot of a medieval monastery. His ascetic ideals fairly correspond to such a life, with the exception of married life.

(3) Married Life. Few Anabaptists have dealt more often and more thoroughly with this theme than Stadler. In his tract Vom ehelichen Stande— six articles (to be published in Glaubenszeugnisse II) he begins with the motto: "Whoever lacks the gift of chastity [meaning the ability to stand lifelong celibacy] ought to marry according to the will of God." Somewhere else he states that "God will wink at our marital work (Gott aber sihet durch die finger umb unsers zerstörlichen leibs willen im eelichen werk) ... for the sake of the children, and He will not count it against us, if it is performed in the fear of the Lord" (Glaubenszeugnisse I, 228)— a typically puritanical thought. In two of his epistles he elaborates further on this topic, which certainly was a foremost one in a brotherhood-church as strict as the Hutterites (see Marriage, Hutterite).

(4) Finally the overall ordering of the church, the church discipline or regulation, again a major concern for a leader of Stadler's stature. We know two such Gemeindeordnungen from his pen (items 5 and 6, the latter still unpublished), forerunners of Riedemann's much larger work of 1541 (see Rechenschaft). No details can be offered here; that he sets an ascetic ideal as his model goes almost without saying. A man who wants to discipline his flesh has, of course, not too much appreciation of "Geschleck und gute bissen und trünklein" (delicacies and a good drink, Glaubenszeugnisse I, 219). But no work should ever be construed as proof of sinlessness. In all our doings we are always under temptation and must never slacken in our "good fight." If we continue in it, however, we may eventually be saved from "eternal death."

No other Hutterite brother is known to have expressed so radical a viewpoint as Stadler. The numerous copies, however, of his writings prove the high regard for teachings of this kind, which later Hutterites called "sharp preaching" (see Sermons, Hutterite).


Alker, Hugo. "Eine Täuferhandschritt des 16. Jahrhunderts aus der Universitätsbibliothek in Wien." Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte. XLVI (1955): 228-43; the Stadler reprint, in the same place: 233-36.

Kot, Stanislaus. Socinianism in Poland. Boston, 1957: 12 f.

Müller, Lydia. Glaubenszeugnisse I. Leipzig, 1938.

Müller, Lydia and Robert Friedmann. Glaubenszeugnisse II. Gütersloh, 1960.

Wiswedel, W. "The Inner and the Outer Word, a Study in the Anabaptist Doctrine of Scripture." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXVI (1952): 171-91, in particular 184-87.

Wolkan, R. Die Huterer. Vienna, 1918: 153-60.

Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943: 166-70.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1959

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Friedmann, Robert. "Stadler, Ulrich (d. 1540)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 Sep 2021.,_Ulrich_(d._1540)&oldid=112385.

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Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Stadler, Ulrich (d. 1540). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 September 2021, from,_Ulrich_(d._1540)&oldid=112385.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 607-608. All rights reserved.

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