Weynken Claes (d. 1527)

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Weynken Claes (Wendelmoet Claesdochter), a mar­tyr of Monnikendam in the Dutch province of North Holland, burned at the stake at The Hague on 20 November 1527, after she had been in prison for half a year. On 15 November 1527, she was conducted from the castle of Woerden to The Hague to be tried before the stadholder and the Court of Hol­land. Weynken Claes was not an Anabaptist in the strict sense, since Anabaptism did not arise in Hol­land before the fall of 1530, but a Sacramentist. The ideas she defended in her trial were the Sacramentist views—rejecting and attacking the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the power claimed by the Catholic Church to forgive sins, and the seven Catholic sacraments, but not infant baptism. This explains why she is listed in the Lutheran (Rabus) and the Reformed (van Haemstede) as well as in the Mennonite mar­tyr books from the Offer des Heeren to van Braght's Martyrs' Mirror. That she was not an Anabaptist is also shown by the fact that though she was executed in 1527, she was not listed in the first three editions of Offer des Heeren, but was first inserted in the appendix of the 1570 edition.

Yet there was adequate reason to list her among the Anabaptist martyrs. First, Monnikendam was by 1534 predominantly Anabaptist, and later a con­siderable Mennonite congregation was found here, among whose members there may have been de­scendants of Weynken or relatives or friends. Secondly, the objections of later Anabaptism to the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church are identical with those of Weynken Claes, Anabaptist martyrs again and again expressing their rejection of transubstantiation, etc., with Weynken's very words. She valiantly, freely, and ably defended her views; her somewhat crude expressions show that she was of the common people. Concerning the sacred host, she said that it is merely bread and water; concerning the extreme unction she an­swered, "Oil is good for salad or to oil your shoes with"; and when a monk showed her a wooden crucifix, saying, "See, here is your Lord and your God," she answered, "This is not my God; the cross by which I am redeemed is a different one. This is a wooden god; throw him into the fire, and warm yourselves with him." She firmly con­fessed her faith in Christ as her only Saviour; she confidently believed in the grace of God; the glow of the burning pile near the stake did not frighten her, and she died steadfast.

The source for the trial and death of Weynken Claes used by several martyr books was a pamphlet printed at Antwerp in 1528 (no copy has survived). An account in German, entitled Ein wunderliche geschycht, newlich geschehen in dem Hag in Hol­land im iar MDXXVII den XX tag Novembris, von einr frawen geheissen Wendelmut Clausen dochter, einr witwe, die do verprendt ist (copies in the libraries of Munich and Vienna), obviously a trans­lation of the Dutch pamphlet of 1528, was used by Rabus.

In the Offer des Heeren this account is followed by a hymn on Weynken, beginning "De Heer moet zijn ghepresen/Van zijn goedertierenheit."


Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica, 10 vols. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: v. II, 422-29.

Bibliographie.  I, 82-91, 651 f.; II, 671, No.  135.

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, 11-13.

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: 422-24.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 358.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, No. la-d;

Mellink, Albert F. De Wederdopers in de noordelijke Nederlanden 1531-1544. Groningen: J.B. Wolters, 1954: 208 ff.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965: 68.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Weynken Claes (d. 1527)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 14 May 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weynken_Claes_(d._1527)&oldid=145138.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Weynken Claes (d. 1527). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 May 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Weynken_Claes_(d._1527)&oldid=145138.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 938-939. All rights reserved.

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