John of Leyden

jan Beukelszoon) (1509-1536. Militant Anabaptist.* When Anabaptism was spreading rapidly in the northern Low Countries in the late 1520s, Jan Beukelszoon was rebaptized by Jan Mattheys of Haarlem, a fiery chiliast preacher. Militant “apostles” gathered in Westphalia, where Münster seemed ready to be the Anabaptist “city of refuge.” Many of the lower classes there had turned Anabaptist, taken control, banned unbelievers, and incurred a siege by the outraged bishop of Münster. Mattheys, followed by Beukelszoon and others, went there, and after Mattheys was killed in battle, the tailor of Leyden was crowned king of the “New Zion.” He instituted community of goods and polygamy, and executed his opponents. Protestant nobles joined Catholic forces against the city, and after its fall the defenders were slaughtered (1536), with their leader numbered among the dead. The memory of Münster helped shape the stereotype of the Anabaptists as disturbers of the peace and as erratic revolutionaries.