Page images

ing to enter the city by force, but being repulsed, seeing no hopes, but only to conquer them by famine, he resolved upon that course, and shut up all the passages.

In the mean while John of Leyden betakes him to his sleep, and continues in a dream three days together; being awaked, he speaks not a word, but calls for paper; in it he writes the pames of twelve men, who were to be chief officers over God's Israel, and to govern all things, for such, he said, was the will of the heavenly father, when he had thus prepared the way to his kingdom. He propounds certain doctrines unto the ministers, and requires them to confute them by testimonies of scripture, if they were able; if not, he would relate them unto the people, and enact them for laws. The doctrines were these, that no man was bound to one only wife, and that every man may take as many as he pleaseth. When the preachers disliked the doctrines, he calls his twelve rulers, and a general assembly of the people. In the presence of all he casts his cloke upon the ground, and upon it the book of the New Testament ; by these signs he swears, that the doctrine which he had published was revealed unto him from heaven, and therefore he gravely threatens the ministers, that God would be highly displeased with them, if they consented not to it. It was in vain for them to resist, and therefore they yielded, and, for three days together, discourse unto the people of the lawfulness of polygamy; the issue was, that Leyden first takes three wives, whereof one had been the wife of John Matthew, the great prophet; many other follow his example, so that at length he was thought most praise-worthy that had most wives.

Many citizens of good sense, and good protestants, were extremely displeased with these mad doings; arming as many as they could, they meet together in the Market-place, and lay hold upon the prophet Knipperdoling, and their teachers; which the base people hearing, they gather in multitudes, assault them with great fury, take away their captives, and kill to the number of fifty, with extreme cruelty; for, binding them to stakes and trees, they shot them to death, the great prophet standing by, and commending this execution, as a thing well pleasing to God; others also were killed in another manner.

After some weeks, there ariseth a new prophet, a goldsmith; he calls the multitude into the market-place, and declares, the will and commandment of the heavenly father to be, that John of Leyden must have the government of all the world; that, with mighty forces, he was to go out to destroy all kings and princes without difference, sparing only the poor people who love righteousness; that he was to possess the throne of his father David, until he should yield up the kingdom to his heavenly father; that all the wicked must be destroyed, to the end, that the godly alone may rule and reign in this world. When the goldsmith had said thus much, John of Leyden falls down upon his knees, and, holding up his hands to heaven, Men and brethren, said he, this very thing was revealed to me many days go, though I did not publish it; but now it hath pleased the father to make it known unto you by this prophet.

John, being thus advanced to be a King, instantly puts his twelve

men out of office, and provides himself, after the fashion of Kings, nobles to wait upon him, two crowns, a, sword, and scepter of state, and other such like ensigns of Majesty, all of the purest gold. Then he appoints certain days, when he would publickly receive all complaints, and hear all petitions. So often as he went abroad, he was attended with his great officers; immediately after him followed two pages on horseback, one carrying a crown and the bible, the other a naked sword; his chief wife was waited on with the same pomp. In the market-place his chair of state was placed on high, covered with cloth of gold. The suits and complaints that were brought unto him, most of them were about marriages and divorces, which were much in use, so as some couples, that had many years lived together, were then parted.

Now, whilst the people were thus standing thick together, hearkening unto their new prince, Knipperdoling suddenly leaps up, and creeps with his hands and feet upon the heads of the crowded multitude, and breathing into their mouths, The Father, saith he, sanctifies thee, receive the holy spirit: Another day dancing before the King, Thus, saith he, I was wont to do with my sweetheart, but now the Father commands me to dance before the King; but, when he would not give over, the King, being offended, went his way; thereupon he sits down in the chair of state, and behaved himself as if he were King, till the King returning turned him out, and sent him to prison for three days.

Whilst the city was besieged, they published a book called the Restitution; in this book, among other things, they affirmed, that Christ shall have a kingdom here upon earth before the day of judgment, wherein only the godly and the elect shall reign, the wicked being every where destroyed; that it is lawful for the people to cast off their governors ; and that, although the apostles had 'no secular jurisdiction, yet the ministers of their church had power from God to use the civil sword, and, by force, to set up a new commonwealth. Further, that no man who is not a good Christian is to be tolerated in the church, and that no man can be saved that challengeth any propriety in his goods ; that Luther and the Pope were two false prophets, and, of the two, Luther the worse ; and that the marriages of profane men ought to be accounted no better than whoredom and adultery. These dreams and dotages were confuted by many learned men, Melanchthon, Justus Menius, and Urbanus Regius, whose writings are extant.

Some weeks after this, the new prophet, of whom we spoke, summons all by sound of trumpet, to repair, with their arms, to the chief churchyard; for the enemy, as he said, was to be repulsed from the city: Thither when they came, they found a supper ready; they sat down at the first near four-thousand, and after them one-thousand more that had kept the watch; the King and Queen, with their servants, waited; when supper was near done, the King reached bread to every one, with these words, Take, tat, declare the death of the Lord: The Queen also reacheth the cup, saying, Drink, and declare the death of the Lord.

This done, the prophet, standing aloft, demandeth of them, if they would obey the word? They affirmed, they would. Then, saith he, the Father hath commanded, that we send forth twenty-eight teachers into the four quarters of the world, to publish the holy doctrine that is professed in this city. Then he names all the apostles, and shews which way they are to go; six are sent to Osemburgh, so many to Warendorf, eight to Susat, eight more to Cosfield. With these apostles, and the other servants, the King and Queen sit down to supper: In suppertime, the King, suddenly arising, saith, he must go about a business which the Father had commanded. A certain soldier by chance had been taken prisoner, him the King said to be another Judas the traitor, and, with his own hand, striketh off his head; he after returns to supper, and reports merrily what he had done. Supper being ended, the twenty-eight aforesaid are sent abroad their several ways, each one carrying with him a small piece of gold, which they were to leave at such places, as did not admit them, and their wholesome doctrine, as a witness against them at the day of judgment. These apostles in the towns, as they passed, cried out aloud, that men should repent, otherwise they should shortly perish; that they were sent by the Father to offer them peace, which, if they refused, that gold should testify against them their ingratitude; that the time was come which all the prophets had foretold, wherein God would propagate holiness throughout all the world; and when their King had done his office, and brought this to pass, then was Christ to deliver up his kingdom to God his father.

Being apprehended and examined, first in a friendly manner, then by the rack, concerning their life and doctrine, their answer was, that themselves only were of the true religion; that, from the apostles time to this age, the word of God had never been truly preached, nor righteousness practised; that there are four prophéts, and of them two just, David and John of Leyden; and two unjust, the Pope and Luther. Being interrogated, why they had turned so many innocent people out of their city, and out of their estates, and by what place of scripture they could prove this to be justice? They answered, that the time was come which Christ had promised, that the meek should possess the earth. They confessed farther, that most of their company had above five wives ; that they expected some help from Holland and Friesland; when they were come, that their King was to go out with all his army to subdue the world, and to destroy all other princes for want of justice. Notwithstanding their torments, when they obstinately persisted, and would not acknowledge any magistrate besides their own King, they were beheaded.

The city was now in extreme distress, and therefore the citizens secretly conspired to take the new King, and deliver him prisoner to the bishop. He being aware of it, for his own security, chuseth twelve trusty men which he called captains, appointing to each other soldiers to assist him, to keep the people in awe; to them he promiseth large rewards, whole provinces, towns, and forts; then calls the multitude, and proiniseth them, that, before Easter then following, without fail, they should be freed from the siege and famine.

About the month of December, divers princes of the empire, in a meeting at Confluence, after deliberation, agreed to assist the bishop with three-hundred horse, and three thousand foot, for six months, under the conduct of Utricsh, Earl of Oberstein. They agreed also to sollicit King Eerdinand, the Emperor then in Spain, and all the other princes of Germany to join with them,

They sent also their letters to Munster, and gravely advised the besieged to desist from their ungodly and rebellious courses; professing, if they yielded not, that the bishop should have the forces of the empire to do justice upon them. This was about the end of December. In the beginning of January, they sent an answer in many words, but little to the purpose, yet so as they commended all their doings. To that charge laid against them of creating a new King, they said nothing in that reply. But, in other private letters to the Landgrave, they endeavoured to excuse it, speaking much of the general destruction of the wicked, and of the glorious reign of the godly in this life. Withal, they sent to him the book formerly mentioned, of the Restitution, and counsel bim to repent by times, and not combine with other princes against them, being the holy saints of God. The Landgrave, having read their letter and their book, returns them an answer; and, because they pretended their new King to be made by especial direction from God, he desires to 'know, by what authority of scriptures they assumed that power, and by what miracles they confirmed it ? and, whereas they called for a fair trial of their cause, the Landgrave replied, it was now too late; since they had already seized on the civil power, and been authors of so much sedition and calamity, it did appear to all the world, that they intended nothing else, but the ruin of all order and government both in church and state; that he had sent unto them many learned and godly ministers to instruct them in sound religion, whom they had scorned and rejected; that their doctrines and practices of rebelling against their magistrates, of robbing men of their goods, of polygamy, of setting up a King of their own, of a community of all things amongst Christians, and the like, are unchristian and abominable, contrary to all laws of God and men.

Upon this reply from the Landgrave, they write back again, and send him another book in the Dutch tongue, intitled, Of the Mysteries of Scripture. In their letters, they defend all their tenents; and in their book divide the ages of the world, into three parts: The first from Adam, to Noah, which perished by water: The second, this wherein we live, which is to perish by fire: The last shall be the new world, wherein righteousness shall reign. That, before this present world be purged with fire, Antichrist must be revealed, and his power

abolished. That then the throne of David shall be erected, and Christ obtain a glorious kingdom upon earth, in his saints, as the prophets have foretold. That this age is like that of Esau, the wicked prospering, and the godly being afflicted; but that their miseries were now ngar an end, and the time of their freedom and restitution approached, when the wicked should be repaid fourfold, for all their persecutions, as was prophesied by John, in his Revelation.

That, immediately after the restitution, the new and golden age should follow, wherein the righteous saints should reign alone, all the wicked being utterly destroyed. These dreams were confuted by some learned divines appointed by the Landgrave. About February, the


[ocr errors]

besieged began to be in great distress, for want of victuals; when many of the poor people perished by famine, one of the queens chanced to say privately to another, that she did not think it pleasing to God, that the miserable wretches should perish in that manner. The King, who had his own store-houses well furnished, not only for necessity, but even for luxury and abundance, hearing of her speeches, brings her into the open, with her fellows, and, commanding her to kneel down, strikes off her head, and, when she was dead, brands her with lightness, and playing the whore. This done, the other queens applaud his doings, and give thanks to the heavenly Father. The King begins to dance, and invites the people, who fed upon nothing but bread and salt, to dancing and merriment.

When Easter was come, at which time the King had, with great confidence, assured the people, they should be freed, but no shew of freedom appeared; to find an excuse, he feigns himself sick, and keeps in for six days: Then comes out into the assembly, tells them, he had, in a vision, been set upon a blind ass; and that the heavenly Father had laid upon him the sins of all the multitude, and therefore, now, they were almost pure and clean purged from all iniquities. That this was the freedom he had promised unto them, and, with this, they ought to be contented.

Luther, hearing of the wild pranks of these mad men of Munster, about this time, published a discourse, concerning the Anabaptists, in the vulgar tongue; he said, it was very plain to all the world, that Munster was become the harbour and habitation of devils; for so the justice of God had punished the sins of Germany, and especially their loose and prophane life, that professed the gospel. That yet, in this very tragedy of Munster, the marvellous mercy of God evidently appeared, in that he had not permitted that old subtle serpent, the witty and cunning Satan, to contrive and govern that business; but only had given way to some silly, dull, and blockish devil, who seemed not well skilled in villainy, to be their guide and conductor. That the grossness and stupidity of all their doctrines and doings made faith of the dullness of that lewd spirit, which moved them. That their polygamies, their seditions, and rebellions might trouble the state, but could not hinder or do prejudice to the church, or gospel of Christ, to which they are so palpably contrary.

That no man of sense, or in his right wits, could be perverted by such means, or induced to favour such lewd people, or their practices. He further added a particular confutation of their principal errors.

In the month of April, King Ferdinand, at the request of the princes, held a diet of the empire at Worms, where, after some debate, it was agreed,' that twenty-thousand crowns, by the month, should be levied for the taking in of the city, and the chastisement of the rebels; and withal, that, when it was taken, the innocent poor people, who had been abused, should be used with mercy, and restitution made to such honest men, as had been robbed of their estates, in this tumult. Hereupon, the bishop' delivers over the army unto the General Oberstein.

In the city, the famine still increased, and the miserable perished in

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »