ANABAPTISTS. The term is derived from a Greek word meaning " to baptise again," and was applied to a body of anti-sacerdotalists who came into prominence early in the sixteenth century. They were so called because, amongst other things, they disapproved of infant baptism, and required the members of their sect who had been baptised only as infants to be rebaptised. The movement began to develop under the influence of the " prophets of Zwickau," who became active in the year 1521. These were the followers of Thomas Mtinzer (1485-1525), Lutheran preacher at Zwickau in Saxony, who had absorbed the teaching of the mystic J. Tauler (1300-1361). Leaving Zwickau, Mtinzer went to Allstedt, and preached there for two years, calling for radical reforms in Church and State. He claimed that he had received a new revelation, and taught that in the king dom of heaven now to be established on earth, all Christians must be equal and all goods be shared in common. Princes were summoned to join the new league started by Mtinzer. In 1524 he had to withdraw to Walds hut, on the borders of Switzerland, from which place as a centre the movement spread over the whole of Switzer land. The next year the " Peasant War " broke out, and found a supporter in Mtinzer. He moved in the same year to Mtihlhausen, where he re-established his theocracy, gathering about him the discontented peasants and hillfolk. The result was a rebellion headed by " Mtinzer, with the sword of Gideon." The prophet was defeated at Frankenhausen on the 15th of May, 1525, and on the 30th of May was executed at Miihlhausen. Nine years later we find the theocracy re-established at Minster in Westphalia, under the guidance of a Pro testant minister, Bernard Rothmenn, and the burghers Knipperdolling and Krechting. These had joined John
Matthieson and were reinforced by John Bockhold, a tailor from Leiden, who now became the leader of the militant Anabaptists. Gaining possession of Mtinster, they allowed Matthieson to proclaim himself a prophet. But his reign was short, for in a sortie against Count Waldeck, who was besieging the town of which he was bishop, he was killed. Boekhold succeeded him (1534), and was crowned king of the " New Jerusalem " or " New Zion" with the title John of Leyden. Churches were then destroyed, and lawlessness prevailed for a year. In 153.5, however, the city was taken, and its king tortured and executed. The principles, however, lived on and were propagated in the Netherlands. Even before Mtinzer's death England seems to have been infected with the teaching, for in 1534 a royal proclamation was issued against persons holding similar views. In 1531i the opinions of the Anabaptists were condemned in a set of Injunctions. But the movement was everywhere chang ing its tone, and losing its revolutionary character, so that the followers of Menno Simonis (A.D. 1505-15(1) in Germany, and of the mystic David Joris (1501-1556), of Delft, whose " Wunderbuch " (" Book of Miracles ") was much studied, can hardly be called Anabaptists. Yet, harmless as the new body were compared with their fore runners, they were doomed to suffer cruel persecution. Further details will be found under BAPTISTS. See J. H. Blunt; Prot. Diet.; Brockhaus.