Herrnhut Communal Movement

Herrnhut Communal Movement


a socioreligious movement in the Baltic region in the 18th and 19th centuries, which spread to Latvia after 1729 from the settlement at Herrnhut in Saxony (hence the name).

The movement had its origins in the Moravian brotherhoods. The Herrnhut teachings of diligence, thrift, and obedience and on the moral reeducation of people corresponded to the interests of the upper strata of the peasantry, which led the movement. The Herrnhut communal movement with its seeming democracy—all members of a community were called brothers and the elder was elected from their midst—was attactive to the masses of Latvian and Estonian peasants, who sought to free themselves from the German landlords and pastors. The movement was most widespread in the first half of the 19th century. In 1828 there were more than 40,000 Herrnhuters in the Baltic region. In the second half of the 19th century the membership in the Herrnhut communities fell sharply. Some strongholds of the movement continued to exist in the early 20th century.


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Zutis, J. Vidzemes un Kurzemes zemnieku brivlaišana. Riga, 1956.
Eesti Kirjanduse ajalugu, vol. 1. Tallinn, 1965.