Sturm, Hans (d. ca. 1536)

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Hans Sturm, an Anabaptist martyr, a cloth shearer of Steyr in Upper Austria, where he escaped prison and death by flight, whereas his wife recanted and his sister was drowned as a martyr in Freistadt. Before long he was arrested for speaking against the prince, but was released after six months. With a copy of a tract on baptism and communion by Wetel of Eibenschitz he wandered through Bohemia to Saxony. In Buchholz he met the brother-in-law of Wolf Kratzber, who had heard that his sister in Zwickau was under sentence of exile as an Anabaptist. Sturm went on to Zwickau and was kindly received by Wolf Kratzber and his wife. As a precaution they did not keep him overnight. When he was looking for work it was discovered that he was an Anabaptist and he was imprisoned in a dungeon of the city hall.

On 26 January 1529, Sturm was examined on the rack. His confession revealed that he repudiated infant baptism, for infants could not believe; he had never baptized anyone, for he was too unlearned; the sacrament of the altar he considered mere bread and wine; he rejected community of goods and regarded marriage as sinful. Two additional examinations revealed nothing further. The authorities then inquired of John Frederick, Duke of Saxony (his father, the elector, was at the diet of Speyer), what should be done with the prisoner. John replied that the matter should be decided by the court (Schöffenstuhl) at Leipzig. The prisoner was then questioned the fourth time. He defended his faith readily and with a remarkable knowledge of the Bible. This time he said that marriage was instituted by God. He vigorously rejected the suspicion of connections with the revolting peasants and said that the state should be obeyed in all matters of the body and property.

On 15 March came the verdict of Leipzig that Sturm was to be burned at the stake. The Zwickau council, however, sent the verdict to the duke, who then ordered that Sturm be brought to Wittenberg for indoctrination. If he then recanted, he would be released; if not, the Wittenberg theologians and jurists should decide what should be done with him.

Under heavy guard Hans Sturm was taken to Wittenberg on 5 April. Luther decided that he "was driven by the raging of Satan" and did not look for success in converting him. All of their efforts were in vain; Sturm clung to his convictions. He was therefore condemned by the Wittenberg theologians and jurists to everlasting prison as a "blasphemer and seditionist," and upon the order of the duke was put into the tower at Schweinitz, southeast of Wittenberg, where he remained until his death, ca. 1536.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 256.

Martin Luther's letter to Nikolaus Hausmann of 8 April 1529.

Martin Luther’s Tischreden. No. 2032, Erlangen edition.

Wappler, P. Inquisition und Ketzerprozesse in Zwickau zur Reformationszeit. Leipzig, 1903: 21-39 ff.

Wappler, P. Die Stellung Kursachsens . . . Münster, 1910: 22.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1959

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Neff, Christian. "Sturm, Hans (d. ca. 1536)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 16 Jun 2021.,_Hans_(d._ca._1536)&oldid=146276.

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Neff, Christian. (1959). Sturm, Hans (d. ca. 1536). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 June 2021, from,_Hans_(d._ca._1536)&oldid=146276.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 650. All rights reserved.

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