In Anabaptism in Tyrol (1526-1626), Johann Loserth summarizes the early century of the most dynamic and persecuted territory in early Reformation history, covering regions in modern-day Italy, Austria and Czechia.
Dr. Johann Loserth (1846-1936), Professor of History at the University of Graz, was the author of more than 100 studies on early Anabaptism including definitive scholarship on such diverse, central figures as Blaurock, Hubmaier, Hutter and Marpeck. Loserth is considered the founder of modern historical studies on the south-eastern regions of Anabaptism in Europe.
Intense scrutiny, anti-Anabaptist mandates and persecution, both by the Habsburg government and the Catholic Church, developed in Tyrol at a more aggressive pace than elsewhere in Europe. After eradicating the first generation of leaders in the late 1520s, authorities viewed Hutter as the key leader of Anabaptism in that region and beyond, especially with the rise of settlements in Moravia. Financial incentives for spies, moles and informants were an exceptional feature of persecution tactics in Tyrol. Loserth also explains how nobles such as Helena von Freyberg and the Wolkenstein family were implicated in Tyrolean Anabaptism and how they were treated harshly by authorities. There is also a focus on the roles of the peasants in revolting against political and ecclesiastical authorities in different phases of reform in Tyrol. Loserth’s account covers the Philipites and Gabrielites alongside the Hutterites as the three main groups which developed out of that region and in Moravia.
Based on 1,317 documents in the archival collection he inherited from the Austrian jurist, Josef von Beck, Anabaptism in Tyrol is divided into two parts. Part 1 summarizes the first decade of Tyrolean Anabaptism in detail, with a sympathetic assessment of Jacob Hutter’s role until his execution in 1536. Part 2 provides an overview of the subsequent nine decades of persecution, leadership challenges, social hardships and controversies among the various Anabaptist groups, most prominently the Hutterian Brethren. Anabaptism in Tyrol provides a complete translation of Loserth’s original German publication (1892-93), and the ‘Index of Names and Places’ offers a valuable reference for locating the sources and archival documents found in Beck’s collection, which will enable further research on the people and places at the origins of Tyrolean Anabaptism.
Excerpt: “Jakob Hutter… is credited with the great merit of reestablishing the order and discipline that had become lax among the Moravian Anabaptists, of having established, over against multiple special interests that had been gaining ground, a community life that had in many ways become breached, of having cleansed the church community of impure elements, and of having brought under control the abuses that elsewhere caused communities to break up.”
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