John of Leiden

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John of Leiden,

c.1509–1536, Dutch AnabaptistAnabaptists
[Gr.,=rebaptizers], name applied, originally in scorn, to certain Protestant sects holding that infant baptism is not authorized in Scripture and that baptism should be administered to believers only.
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 leader. His original name was Beuckelszoon, Beuckelzoon, Bockelszoon, Bockelson, Beukels, or Buckholdt. John of Leiden was attracted to the extreme left of the early Reformation movement through the influence of Thomas MünzerMünzer or Müntzer, Thomas
, c.1489–1525, radical German Protestant reformer. During his studies at Leipzig (1518) Münzer fell under the influence of Martin Luther.
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. In 1533 he joined the Anabaptists and, as a follower of Johann Matthyszoon (Matthiesen) moved to Münster. There in 1534 the Anabaptists took up arms and deposed the civil and religious authorities of the town. After Matthyszoon's death in the siege, John of Leiden assumed leadership and set up a theocracy in the new Zion. Soon John declared himself "king," with Bernard Knipperdollinck second in command; during his brief and arbitrary rule general lawlessness prevailed, polygamy was legalized, and property communized. When the siege to recover the town, led by the expelled prince bishop, was successful in 1535, the leaders of the new "kingdom of Zion" were barbarously tortured and in the following year executed.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

John of Leiden


(also, Jan Beukelszon). Born circa 1509 near Leiden; died Jan. 25, 1536, in Münster; one of the leaders of the Dutch Anabaptists and head of the Münster Commune from April 1534 to June 1535.

John of Leiden’s father, Jan Beukel (hence the name Beukelszon), was an assistant to a village elder and his mother a West-phalian peasant. He was trained as a tailor in Leiden, and his work later took him to England, Flanders, and Portugal. In 1535, John became associated with Jan Mathijs, a leader of the Dutch Anabaptists, who baptized him and made him one of his “apostles.” On Jan. 13, 1534, he came to Münster on Mathijs’ instructions, and the next month he and other Anabaptists gained control of the city. John became Mathijs’ closest associate in Münster, and after the latter’s death on Apr. 5, 1534, he headed the Council of 12 Elders, the commune’s chief governing body. John was later proclaimed “king of the New Zion” (Münster) and held unlimited power in the besieged city. He introduced a number of measures intended to establish social equality, organized a brilliant defense of the city, and attempted to spread the rebellion to other cities of Westphalia and northern Holland. On June 25, 1535, forces of the bishop of Münster seized the city; John was taken prisoner and later executed.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(5.) Blasphemie van Jan van Leyden (1627), titlepage.
(34.) Piet Visser responds: Did Jan van Leyden have the same attitude toward Menno?
20:1) then leads to an unwarranted conclusion that, because this could not apply to Menno's situation in Witmarsum, the text of the Blasphemy is not directed against the historical Jan van Leyden, but against the "other Jan van Leyden," the lying Pashur, or David Joris.
(55.) Piet Visser responds: In fact, the Dutch text reads in translation: "where now is Jan van Leyden, oh terrible blasphemy of God" (6v), followed by "Jan van Leyden is saying that he has become the joy of [those in] misery, which is the biggest blasphemy of God ever spoken by man" (7).
I am convinced that these passages are crucial for a right understanding of my view that Jan van Leyden is being considered the new David as promised again by God.--Rothmann Schriften, 367.
And, of course, he introduces the Dutch tailor, Jan van Leyden, who emerged as the self-proclaimed king of Munster during the brief period of Anabaptist dominance.
These stories add much to the drama of the Anabaptist Kingdom, and Arthur emphasizes throughout the study how Jan van Leyden used theatricality, emotional appeal, and manipulation to remain in power: "it is clear that he understood intuitively how to appeal to the fears and emotions of his audience ...