Nicholas of Basle

FOURTEENTH century. Proponent of the Free Spirit Movement. Nicholas won followers for the movement along the Rhine River from Constance to Cologne. Some of his adherents were burnt in Heidelberg and Cologne; among those executed was Martin of Mainz, a renegade monk. Nicholas claimed to be a new Christ and viewed himself as the sole source of authority and ordination; he could interpret the gospels better than the apostles; lacking his sanction, the church's hierarchy could perform no valid act. He called that person sinless who executed any one of his commands, including an order to murder or fornicate. Full submission to him would give a man his primal innocence. For his views Nicholas was apprehended and burnt in Vienna about 1395.