Anabaptism, emerged in the 1520s from what is known as the radical reformation. It is a loose term defining any Christian faith that doesn't believe in infant baptism. Anabaptism became the name under which most radical reformers grouped themselves. Since it was the refuge of radicals it had little success in the 16th century, a time when radical social reformation was easily suppressed by the ruling classes.


  • Some Swiss reformers, Stempf, Mantz and Grebel, denounced Zwingli as too moderate.
  • Karlstadt exiled from Wittenberg after Luther's return and he subsequently abandons infant baptism.
  • Condemned the swearing of oaths, military service,tithes, the mass and infant baptism.
  • This is the beginning of the Swiss brethren movement. Zwingli condemned them and the Zurich authorities arrested them. Mantz was drowned. However a number of mushroom sects began to emerge.
  • On 21 January Conrad Grebel was rebaptised as an adult. From this example the procedure of adult baptism giving its name to the Anabaptist movement.
  • Zwingli was a leading opponent of Anabaptism, between 1525-27 he wrote four tracts defending infant baptism.
  • In March adult rebaptism is declared a capital offence in Zurich.
  • In February the Schleithen confession of faith is produced by members of the Anabaptist movement. This stated:
    • The only ecclesiastical control was excommunication.
    • The public should refuse to take oaths.
1528 The most significant event of the Anabaptist reformation was the Anabaptist control of the city of Munster.

In January 1534 Jan Matthisjz was sent to the city to rebaptise the adults there and was accompanied by a fellow disciple, John of Leyden. Matthisjz was a follower of the key radical theologian, Melchior Hoffman. He believed:

In February the Anabaptists became the dominant force in the municipal elections in Munster. Then began the siege of Munster by surrounding Princes and Archbishops.

Matthisjz was killed early in the siege and John of Leyden established a ruthless theocratic rule in Munster where he titled himself King of Israel and the citizens as Israelites.

The city was governed by the twelve elders of the tribe with the following laws:

The siege ended in June 1535 and John of Leyden was executed.