On May the 10th, 1535, the Anabaptist revolt occurred in Amsterdam. Anabaptists have their own interpretation of Protestantism, and at the date just mentioned, they decided they had enough of the Catholics who were the dominant religion in town.
Amsterdam as a catholic city
The mix of church and city government the catholic church pursued was an abhorrence to the anabaptists, a sin; the movement strove to establish a new nation, one that honoured the Ten commandments. They also felt that the end of all things was at hand, the end of civilization.
It was the lower classes in particular who were attracted to the teachings of the Anabaptists. The group also taught that all should share, and as unemployment was high and poverty rampant, it’s no wonder the poor were interested; the rich were not; of course, they were “not amused”.
The rich should help the poor, whether they want to or not. This was the gospel of the anabaptists.
‘Ana’ baptists were considered heretics.
‘Ana’ is a Latin derivative, and one of its meanings is “again” (I just looked it up, I’m not all that fluent in Latin). It refers to the belief that a man should be baptized when he’s able to choose to do so, having his full faculties and discern between good and evil. Catholics beg to differ, holding to the belief that you should be baptized as an infant, as do many protestants these days as well. As for me, on this stance, I hold with the anas.
It came to a confrontation, officially followers of different faiths and doctrines were considered heretics, but the local authorities had never made an issue out of it until now. But things were about to change in Amsterdam.
In May, in that notable year of 1535, forty anabaptists ran, for the so manifest time, amok through the streets of Amsterdam shouting slogans like “the end is near.” They went to the town hall on Dam Square and waited. The next day the city officials had them massacred. They were, without exception, all killed.
Their hearts were cut out of their bodies in the middle of Dam square; they were quartered and hung. Their heads were stuck on poles and placed at the entries to the city gates. The message was don’t you dare rise against catholicism.
1. The anabaptist had one remarkable practice perhaps worth mentioning, during their protest marches, they would discard all their worldly possessions. The “naked truth” stood for the purity of man and his belief in Jesus Christ. There was no room for worldly possessions in that.
“The naked truth and nothing but the naked truth” is a translation of a Dutch saying that has its origins in the movement of the Anabaptists. During prayer, they would often undress and declare that all material matter is godless (and that’s true heresy.)
2. The anabaptists were encouraged by an event in Germany in Munster; their tactics had led to success. A Dutchman called Jan of Geel from the city of Leiden had put himself in charge there. Jan, however, did not always practise what he preached.
He was a bit of a demagogue and called himself “king of the anabaptists,” he had a remarkable fondness for women, clothes and jewellery for an anabaptist. He was given the nickname ‘Jantje of Leyen’, alluding to the practice of not living up to your standards, not practising what you preach and pretending to be something you’re not.
3. Jan was at a certain time and place captured, tortured to death and afterwards had his body put on display in an iron cage. This is an example of what could happen to those who practise heresy.
It wasn’t until years later that his body was taken out of its cage when he had pretty much turned into dust.
The anabaptists revolt is number 7 of the Canon of Amsterdam.