Archive for Holland

Fahrenheit 1557

Posted in Anabaptism, Anabaptist, Catholic Martyrs, Christian, Christianity, Church, History, Martyr, Martyrs Mirror, Patriarchs, Religion with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by fuzzysoul

Again, what the hell is it with the Rhineland? I’ve noted before that it tends to breed pogroms now and again, but it also seems like it can’t go too long without a good book burning.

The political masters of Haarlem in Holland weren’t content with just burning Jorian Simons and Clement Dirks in 1557. They had to burn their books too. In an age before assembly line production, this kind of destruction carried far more weight than it does today, when it is viewed as boorish, ignorant behavior. Books were handmade, rare and expensive in the 16th Century. The crowd stood by while Simons and Dirks were roasted, but they could not abide the senseless waste of a book bonfire. According to the Martyrs Mirror:

When they had finished their tyranny by strangling and burning, they, in order to quench their doctrine, also thought to burn their books …; but when books were perceived to be on fire, there arose such an uproar among the people that the lords took flight, whereupon the books were thrown among the multitude, who reached for them with eagerness…

Life is cheap. Knowledge is precious.


Burning the hand that saved him

Posted in Anabaptism, Anabaptist, Catholic, Catholic Martyrs, Christian, Christianity, History, Martyr, Martyrs Mirror, Patriarchs with tags , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by fuzzysoul

I’m going to skip ahead a bit in the Martyrs Mirror to address a story that my Old Order Mennonite cousin told me about a man named Dirck Willems (or Dirk Willemfz if you prefer the old spelling style). I immediately recognized the story as Michelle relayed it to me a few weeks ago, because an the engraving (large version) depicting it appears on the dust cover of my Herald Press version of the Mirror.

The engraving, done by Jan Luyken, confused me, because I didn’t see what one dude pulling another dude out of a hole in the ice had to do with the torture and execution of thousands of my ancestors. Now I know.

According to the Mirror, Willems was a resident of Asperen in Holland and a wanted Anabaptist. The story picks up with his arrest already in progress. Willems is hauling tail across the frozen ice with a cop in hot pursuit. However, the cop steps on a weak piece of ice and falls into the bitter water below. In what is possibly the most selfless act of pure Christianity I’ve ever read, Willems stops running, turns around and pulls the freezing cop from a certain death.

His reward? Slow death at the stake.

The cop wanted to let Willems go, but the “burgomaster” wouldn’t relent. So, Willems was tried, convicted and sentenced to burn.

“… A strong east wind blowing that day, the kindled fire was much driven away from the upper part of his body, as he stood at the stake; in consequence of which this good man suffered a lingering death, insomuch that in the town of Leerdam, towards which the wind was blowing, he was heard to exclaim over seventy times, “O my Lord; my God,” etc., for which cause the judge or bailiff, who was present on horseback, filled with sorrow and regret at the man’s sufferings, wheeled about his horse, turning his back toward the place of execution, and said to the executioner, “Dispatch the man with a quick death.” But how or in what manner the executioner then dealt with this pious witness of Jesus, I have not been able to learn…”

No good deed goes unpunished.

None too bright

Posted in Anabaptism, Anabaptist, Catholic, Catholic Martyrs, Christian, Christianity, Church, God, History, Martyr, Martyrs Mirror, Religion with tags , , , , on November 11, 2009 by fuzzysoul

Mchael-Jackson-Beat-ItI’m not sure whose hands should be considered stained with Joris Wippe’s blood, but it’s tempting to blame him.

Wippe, according to the Martyrs Mirror, was the mayor of a place called Meenen in Flanders when he became an Anabaptist and was, understandably, compelled to flee his post. He moves to the city of Dortrecht in Holland and sets up as a cloth dyer with a few well-to-do clients.

Well, it doesn’t take long before the local Catholic religious establishment start to suspect his Anabaptist sympathies. They summon him to appear for questioning. Wippe panics and asks his influential customers what he should do. They, naively, tell him to answer the summons, believing that he’ll be questioned and released.

Now, let’s stop right here. Wippe was a former government official, and he already took the liberty to flee certain death at the hands of the church once. He knows the score. At least he should. He should have turned tail and fled.

And the Mirror even implies that the lords of Dortrecht believe he’ll make a quick estimation of the situation and skip town. After all, Wippe would have left his property in the hands of the government, making the lords a quick buck without much fuss.

But, instead, the dumb bastard shows up on April 28, 1558, just as ordered.

When he came there, and the lords saw him, they were filled with consternation, and would have preferred that he had taken their summons as a warning to secretly make his escape, since they did not thirst much for innocent blood…

So Wippe is arrested. The lords didn’t want to have to execute him, so they tried to export him to the higher court in Gravenhange. But that court stuck to its jurisdictional guns and sent Wippe back. The Dortrecht executioner refused to kill him, since Wippe had often fed the executioner’s wife and kids. So, the city got a beat cop to drown poor Wippe in a wine cask filled with water.