Wideman, Jakob (d. 1535/6)

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Jakob Wideman (Wiedemann, Widman) (d. 1535/6), an early Moravian Anabaptist leader, often called the "one-eyed Jakob," was born in Memmingen, Swabia, and seems to have been converted to Anabaptism in 1527, probably in Augs­burg. From here he went to Nikolsburg, where at that time the conflict between the Schwertler and Stäbler was becoming more and more acute. In 1528 Wideman separated from the Schwertler (the former Hubmaier group, now headed by Hans Spittelmaier, and supported by the lords of Liechtenstein), rallying, together with Philipp Jager (or Weber), the nonresistant Stäbler around him. When this group was no longer permitted to live on the Liechtenstein territory at Nikolsburg, the Brethren moved away in great poverty, not knowing where to turn. It was a group of about 200 adults and many children. In this predicament several men laid a cloak on the ground upon which everyone voluntarily put what­ever he possessed of money or goods, in order to support the needy according to the teachings of the Book of Acts. Fortunately the manorial lords of Austerlitz, viz., the four Kaunitz brothers, were willing to accept this group on their estates. Thus began the first fully communal Anabaptist settlement. Since they lived in Austerlitz, they be­came known all over the country as the "Austerlitz Brethren." Wideman was the Vorsteher (elder) of the group, which from now on grew steadily by new accessions from South Germany and Tyrol. In 1531 another split took place; the Tiroleans under Jorg Zaunring, a co-worker of Jakob Hutter, moved away to Auspitz, where they started their own communal Bruderhof, leaving Wideman with the Austerlitz group.

Unfortunately the Hutterite Chronicle shows little interest in the Austerlitz group and other sources are scanty. The Philippites also settled in Austerlitz on the same estate, but as a separate peo­ple under Philipp Plener. There were now four groups in Moravia living in community: in Austerlitz the Wideman group and the Philippites, the Gabrielites in Rossitz, and the Tyroleans (under Zaunring and later Schützinger) in Auspitz. Unfortunately they did not always live in brotherly peace. Jakob Hut­ter wrote in 1533: "I know these Austerlitzers very well, they do not walk according to the rule of Christ; nevertheless I believe that there are good, God-fearing people among them." When Ulrich Stadler came from Tyrol to Moravia, he joined the Wideman group and remained with it until the hardship year of 1535. Whether or not Wideman was always their bishop cannot be stated with certainty. Beck (50) claims that in 1530-31 Wideman was in Strasbourg, then a center of Anabaptism, but was expelled from that city, and very likely returned to Austerlitz.

In 1535 King Ferdinand of Hapsburg ordered all the nobles to expel the Brethren from Moravian soil. The lords had to comply, and thus also the Austerlitz group was dispersed as the Phil­ippites had been. Ulrich Stadler and his group went to Poland; others went back to Germany; Wideman, however, together with several Brethren, apparently went to Vienna in Austria. Here the group was caught, tortured, and eventually martyred (1535 or 1536). This we learn, almost incidentally, from a letter of Jeremy Käls, himself a prisoner in Vienna and soon to be a martyr. In his cell he learned of the fate of his fellow believers, but gives no particulars. No writings and no hymns by Wideman seem to have been preserved.


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 50.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. IV, 526.

Roth, F. Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte II.  Munich, 1901: 232.

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

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1959

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MLA style

Friedmann, Robert. "Wideman, Jakob (d. 1535/6)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 21 Jun 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wideman,_Jakob_(d._1535/6)&oldid=146318.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Wideman, Jakob (d. 1535/6). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 June 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wideman,_Jakob_(d._1535/6)&oldid=146318.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 941. All rights reserved.

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