Valerius Schoolmeester (d. 1568)

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Valerius Schoolmeester, an Anabaptist martyr, exe­cuted in 1568 at Brouwershaven on the island of Schouwen, Dutch province of Zeeland. The account on Valerius by van Braght's Martyrs' Mirror is rather brief; a number of additional particulars have been published by K. R. Pekelharing. In 1562 Va­lerius was a teacher at Middelburg, Zeeland, and with some witnesses traveled to Ghent, Belgium, "where with the bent knees of my heart I gave my­self up to my God," i.e., where he was baptized and accepted into the church. In 1563 he was married. When his school declined he opened a cloth and yarn shop at Middelburg besides his teaching. In October 1564, after two Mennonites had been exe­cuted, he fled to Zierikzee where he lived for half a year, thereafter moving to Hoorn, North Holland, where he earned his living with some business; here he became deathly ill, but recovered. In 1566 he was back in Zeeland, probably at Middel­burg; he preached at several places, was arrested at Goes but released on 5 September 1566, without recant­ing; shortly after this a meeting on the dike near Veere, where he was preaching, was dispersed by the magistrates. Concerning the last eighteen months of his life, his arrest, and execution there is no information except that he was arrested about September 1567 and held in prison for more than 60 weeks. Even the exact date and the manner of his execution are unknown. His widow was re­married to Michiel Gerritsz, who died as a martyr at Breda in 1572. The idea (Bibliographie des Martyrologes) that he was a relative of the well-known Adriaen Valerius, the author of the Dutch national songbook Gedenck-clanc (1626), is proba­bly incorrect.

During his imprisonment Valerius wrote two booklets, (a) Van't afnemen ende 't vervallen der apostelsche ghemeente (Decline and Decay of the Apostolic Church), in the 60th week of his impris­onment. Of this writing no copy is extant any more. (b) A booklet, written in the 14th week of his cap­tivity, entitled Proba Fidei oft de Proeve des gheloofs, waerinne een iegelcik  mensche . . . hem proeven mach of hy int ghelove recht staet of niet (Proof of Faith, . . . ). Of this book four editions are known—1569; n.d., n.p.; 1590 and 1595 by Biestkens at Amsterdam; and 1634 by Zacharias Cornelisz at Hoorn (printed at Haarlem). The 1634 edition is followed by an autobiographical letter by Valerius, published by Pekelharing. This Proba Fidei, the first part of which is reproduced by van Braght in his Martyrs' Mirror, is a book of pure and deep piety, an admonition to forsake the world, to bear the cross of Christ, and to practice Christian love. He emphasized personal piety and expected the return of the Lord in the immediate future, i.e., 1568. Would the Lord find faith upon earth? Va­lerius, who was troubled by the little love of many members of the Hoorn congregation for the church, vigorously refused to take sides in the Frisian-Flemish quarrels which arose in 1565 and which disturbed the Hoorn congregation. His aversion to dogmatic dissensions may have influenced the Zierikzee congregation to take their neutralist posi­tion in the schism (see Stilstaanders).


Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 371-377.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 726-731.

Cate, Steven Blaupot ten. Geschiedenis der Doopsgezinden in Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht en Gelderland, 2 vols. Amsterdam: P.N. van Kampen, 1847: I, 74, 146.

Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914. VII, 521.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1870): 51; (1908): 11-14, 62.

Haeghen, Ferdinand van der, Thomas Arnold and R. Vanden Berghe. Bibliographie des Martyrologes Protestants Néerlandais, 2 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1890: I, 427-46, 673 f.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932: I, 246, 330, 453.

Meihuizen, H. W. Galenus Abrahamsz. Haarlem, 1954: 6-12, 127.

Pekelharing, K. R.  "Bijdragen voor de Geschiedenis der Hervorming in Zeeland." Archief uitg. door het Zeeuwsch Genootschap der Wetenschappen VI. Middelburg, 1866: 60-66.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Valerius Schoolmeester (d. 1568)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 16 Apr 2021.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Valerius Schoolmeester (d. 1568). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 April 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 797-798. All rights reserved.

©1996-2021 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.