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Bernt Rothman

c.1495-1535. German Anabaptist* leader. A priest of obscure origins and a powerful preacher, he was the chief evangelical Reformer of his native town of Münster. He introduced a Lutheran-style Reformation into Münster in 1532- 33 in spite of vigorous official opposition. However, the course of reform in Münster took an unexpected twist when in May 1533 Rothman became an Anabaptist. Events took yet another turn in early 1534 when large numbers of Melchiorities, including the charismatic Dutchmen Jan Matthijs (d.1534) and Jan van Leyden (d.1535), flocked into the city. Rothman then changed his religious orientation once more and accepted Matthijs's radical Melchiorite millennialism. In February 1534 the radicals took over Münster in order to make ready for “the kingdom of God” to be established there shortly at Christ's second coming. First Matthijs and then van Leyden became the dictator of a theocratic state in which both communism and polygamy were introduced. Rothman seems to have been swept along with the tide and served as state preacher. When the ill-fated Münster kingdom fell to a besieging force in June 1535, Rothman reportedly died in the fighting. He left behind several books written at stages in his theological pilgrimage from Rome to radical millenarianism, including his Restitution (1534).

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