If in the Sixteenth Century no religious movement endured as much combined hostility from the Catholics, the Protestants and the temporal authorities as the Anabaptists did, this was because they added to the religious discourse of egalitarian theocracy the old social dream in which nostalgia for a golden age provided the weapons of hope to the desperate struggle against the exploiters and the destroyers of the natural riches.
In the foreboding of the Third Age, the imminence of which fit in with the crisis of the birth of modern capitalism, the proletarian demands of the towns easily mixed with the peasants' aspirations and the regrets of the old autartic rural commune.
The spectre of the millennium, which agrarian fundamentalism still gave the inhumanity inherent in the celestial mandate to the antithetical ideologies of Bolshevism and fascism, would engender among the partisans of the old order and the adepts of a new one a climate of endemic hatred and fear propitious for all the cruelty to come.
Close to the Vaudois tradition, the peaceful Anabaptists did not any less provoke persecution than those who extolled armed struggle. The Vaudois nourished such a calling for martyrdom that they practically solicited the executioner's hand. In Munster, where their equality of divine right would institute itself, the Anabaptists would show that the God of the little fathers of the people hardly spared the children judged unworthy of his goodness.
In the writings of its enemies, Anabaptism designated an ensemble of independent groups that were governed by prophets or apostles armed with the sword and word [parole] of God. Their common traits evoked the demands of the reformers of the Middle Ages. They took exception to the baptism imposed upon infants, because it was generally administered by unworthy priests and because it did not obey the individual's choice made in full knowledge of the community of the faithful. In practice, baptism played a role among the Anabaptists, and especially the Munsterians, similar to the one played by the [Communist] Party among the old Stalinists of the Twentieth Century. It was a sign of election that authorized access to the egalitarian kingdom of the saints.
The absolute authority that the Anabaptists recognized in God, whose ministers they were, freed them from obeying the spiritual and temporal authorities. In the German principalities, it expressed the nearly unanimous rejection of the prince-bishop and his allies. The collusion of the Catholic and Lutherian notables participated in the discredit of two religions that were judged to be irreconciliable with God's designs. Anabaptism especially estimated itself to be the carrier of a new order. It needed to destroy the ramparts of the old tyrannies so as to impose the authoritarian reign of the saints. Such a project would discover its social ferment in the peasant wars and the insurrections of the miners, weavers and unemployed workers.
The peasant discontent was a constant factor in history ever since the Circoncellions and Bagaudes. The peasant uprisings led by Dolcino, William Carle and John Ball rhythmned this constancy with an energy that was exacerbated each time that the economy, through the free circulation of goods, broke the closed system of the agrarian mode of production, which was the motherly paradise that was ruined by the sordid exploitation of terrestrial nature and human nature.
From century to century -- like sparks from a forge in which a humanity devoted to Hell was active -- there flew manifestoes, prophecies and pamphlets such as The Book of One Hundred Chapters, written at the beginning of the Sixteenth Century by the "Revolutionary from the Upper Rhineland."
Inspired by John Ball and the radical Taborites, this work expounded the demands for equality and justice that animated the revolt of the Bundschuh and that breathed life into the idea of freedom that Luther celebrated before repudiating.
Regrouping the peasants, the poor people of the villages and the wandering mercenaries, the Bundschuh drew its name from its emblem, which was the peasant's lace buskin. (According to Pianzola, the emblem was painted by Jorg Ratgeb.) The movement was organized under the leadership of a man of the people, Joss Fritz, a forest-guard from the village of Lehen and, after an attempt upon Selestat in 1493, it imposed itself in 1502 in the region of Spire. The insurrection was crushed, but Joss Fritz managed to escape the repression and, in 1513 and 1517, organized new conflagrations in Souabe and even Alsace. His millenarianist programme did not bother with theological considerations: he appealed for the extermination of the rich and the nobles, and for the establishment of an egalitarian and fraternal society. Outside of the patrician caste and the lords, the majority of the towns were receptive and the current of sympathy aroused by the peasant wars expressed itself so strongly among the artists of the time that the majority of the official histories of art have preferred to pass over them in silence. Only Maurice Pianzola has taken the pleasure of indicating these artists in his study, Painters and Villains.
They were named Durer, Grunewald, Jorg Ratgeb (who was a painter and military counselor to the armed peasants quartered at Pforzeim in 1526), the brothers Hans Sebald and Bartel Behaim (already condemned for irreligion at a celebrated trial at Nuremberg), Lucas Cranach, Nicolas Manuel Deutsche, Urs Graf, Philippe Dietmar (decapitated at Wurzburg in 1525), and Tilman Riemenschneider (renamed for the always equal-sized hands of his figures and whose fingers were broken by the executioners at the time of the tortures in Wurzburg in 1526).
It would fall to Muntzer and his friends to give to the movement a type of religious carapace, which was more proper to stifle than to protect it, as much as it is true that the spirit of sacrifice more predisposed the movement to martyrdom and expiatory defeat than to the victories of natural liberty.
Born in Stolberg (Thuringia) in 1488, Thomas Muntzer studied Greek, Latin and Hebrew in the course of several brilliant years at the university, which destined him for the priesthood. Soon thereafter rallied to Luther's party, he quit it no less rapidly when, having become the Pastor at Zwickau, not far from Bohemia, he met the weaver Nicolas Storch.
Influenced by the Taborite movement, Storch preached the imminence of the millenarianist revolution. The saints or elect of the New Age would be the faithful who possessed in themselves the Spirit or the Living Christ. Muntzer entered into Storch's views and gave them a more theological and sacrificial turn.
Stripped of his own will, the adept would expose himself -- in the manner of the Christ -- to ordeals and suffering, which Muntzer called "the cross." Finally allowed a kind of resurrection, he would receive the Living Christ in himself and the will of God would manifest itself through its intermediary. Here the idea of the incarnated God, common to the Free-Spirit, passed through the preliminary of the renunciation of life, along the access road to social purification without which there could be no kingdom of the saints.
Like Savonarola, Muntzer took exception to culture and erudition, condemned reading, pleasure and lust. His preaching against the Lutherian notables and the lechery of the bishops attracted the sympathies of the weavers and the miners who were reduced to poverty by inflation.
In April 1521, the municipal authorities chased him from the city. Storch unleashed an uprising that was quickly crushed. Muntzer traveled through Bohemia, was expelled from Prague, wandered in Germany and in 1523 found himself the preacher of Allstedt in Thuringia, where -- with the peasants, copper-mine workers and artisans from the town -- he founded a League of the Elect, which was a prefiguration of the lay League of Communists that Marx dreamed was the iron lance of the proletariat.
Invited to preach before Duke John of Saxony in July 1524, he prophetized the return of humanity to the Christ, to nature and to paradise in harmony and peace. Was not the sovereign, an open and tolerant spirit, seduced by Muntzer's eloquence and programme? He took time to reflect before summoning the prophet to Weimar for a reconciliation, at which he simply asked him to abstain from all prophetic declarations.
Nevertheless, because Heinrich Pfeiffer, an old monk, had incited a revolt of the disinherited classes against the patrician oligarchy in Muelhausen, Muntzer hastened to join him and give him the League's support. The failure of the insurrection chased Muntzer from the city and convinced him to bet upon the peasant movement; Pfeiffer, through even more audacity, succeeded in reversing the municipal majority and instaurating working-class power.
In April 1525, Muntzer hoisted a white banner painted with a rainbow, which was the symbol of the divine law that haloes the earth. Muntzer then began an apocalyptic discourse, the hysterical ardor of which augured a great deficiency in the means required for such an enterprise: "If there are but three of you who, trusting in God, seek only his name and honour, you will not fear a hundred thousand. Now go at them, and at them, and at them! The scoundrels are as dispirited as dogs. . . ."
Pfeiffer refused to leave Muelhausen. Storch, on the other hand, joined the peasant forces led by the messiah of the Third Age.
Joss Fritz conducted guerrilla operations with his skillful and rapid forces. As for Muntzer, he put the fate of his army in the hands of the same God that Luther invoked, from his side, so as to aid the princes and finish off the riffraff. In Frankenhausen, 5,000 peasants -- hoping for a gesture from the Savior until the last minute -- let themselves be massacred. The army of the princes and Luther lost eight mercenaries. Storch died trying to escape from the vise that the masters of heaven and earth tightened upon him. On 27 May 1525, Thomas Muntzer and Heinrich Pfeiffer were decapitated after having been tortured according to custom. The repression fell upon all of Germany. But if revolutionary Anabaptism ebbed in the countrysides, it did so only to be reborn with an increased rigor in the towns, where economic development progressed at the cost of a forced exploitation of the proletariat.
While the persecution multiplied visions of pyres, gallows and wheels [of torture], which the works of Pieter Brueghel would hold up like acts of accusation against a completely humiliated humanity, the Anabaptist movement hesitated between the anemic pacificism of the Vaudois and the violence in which God would (as usual) recognize his own.
A disciple of Muntzer, Hans Hut (also a native of Thuringia) did not hesitate to announce that in 1528 the Christ would descend upon the earth to confer the sword of his justice to the saints who were rebaptized so that they could annihilate the parish-priests, pastors, nobles and kings. The Kingdom of God would be established in the shared community of goods and the freedom of love.
Captured in 1527, Hut died in prison, no doubt due to torture, leaving others the care of leading his programme to completion: "The Christ would give them, the Anabaptists, the sword and vengeance to punish all sinners, to efface all governments, to place in common all property and kill those who would not allow themselves to be rebaptized."
Hut wasn't the only one to substitute a God of resentment and great purification for the God of the dominant oppression. In 1528, the Anabaptists of Esslingen, on the Neckar [River], and Ulm fomented social revolution under the flag of what the Twentieth Century would call "extremism." (The last monotheistic religion, Islam, would rediscover in extremism a similar clash between the decline of the agrarian system and the emergence of mercantile modernity.)
Unlike the doctrines of Hut and Muntzer, those of Balthasar Huebmaier (called Pacimontanus) professed an absolute pacifism and a great spiritual opening. The pastor at Waldschut in Bavaria and a preacher at the Cathedral of Ratisbonne, he expounded the cause of Anabaptism in 1525; shortly thereafter he became uneasy and went to Zurich, from whence he was chased in 1526.
Taking refuge in Moravia, he rallied the sympathies of the inhabitants of Nikolsburg to his pacifist ideals. He gained the protection of the lords of Lichtenstein. He founded a print shop, from which came tracts that popularized the new faith. His adepts were estimated to number around 12,000 people.
Around 1527, Hans Amon, the leader of the Anabaptists in Lower Austria, provoked a schism in Huebmaier's community. Amon estimated that believers must not possess anything of their own, unlike the more moderate opinions that Menno Simonsz would later adopt according to the doctrinal line traced out by Huebmaier.
Nevertheless, Moravia soon experienced the backwash of the repressive wave that hit Germany. Since Vienna had summonded him to appear and respond to its religious options, Huebmaier -- who refused to retract his remarks -- was delivered to the inquisitors by his protectors, the lords of Lichtenstein. He was burned on 10 March 1528.
Hans Amon took refuge with his disciples in Slavkov, better known as Austerlitz. There in 1523 he faced the dissidence of a faction that -- in the heritage of the Pikarti or Adamites -- intended to live in accordance with free sex, nay, free love.
John Hutter, a native of Moso in South Tyrol, was invited to lead the community and banned those who enriched themselves. Threatened with arrest, he left Moravia for Tyrol, where he would die, executed in February 1536.
The Moravian Anabaptist community known in Slovakia under the name "Habans" -- from the Hebrew words ha banim, "the true children of God" -- would perpetuate under the name "Hutterite" the fundamental teachings of Valdeism that had been adopted by Anabaptism: the rejection of private property; the refusal to pay taxes by arguing that the State used this money to finance armed conflicts; the election of the preacher who leads the community; baptism submitted to the decision of adults; the refusal to bear arms; and the condemnation of war and the death penalty. Such would be enough to arouse the permanent animosity of the temporal and spiritual authorities.
Around the middle of the Sixteenth Century, there were nearly 70,000 adepts in Moravia. Incited by the Jesuits, the Catholic authorities would chase them from the country. The adepts' disobedient attitude during the Thirty Years' War would end up in their dispersal. They went to Translyvania, Poland, southern Russia and, starting in the Eighteenth Century, the United States.
Meanwhile, Mennonism would distance the faithful from their ambition to instaurate on earth the egalitarian kingdom of "each for God and God for all."
The road taken by Melchior Hoffmann irresolutely traced itself between the aggressivity of Muntzer and Hut, and the pacifism of Huebmaier. Born around 1495 in Swabisch Hall, Hoffmann was enthusiastic about the mystical works of Tauler and the works of Luther, whom he defended at Wolmar until his expulsion from the town in 1523. At Dorpat in Estonia he preached against the use of images, inspiring an iconoclast riot in 1525, in the course of which the crowd prevented his arrest.
Hoffmann's obstinacy in predicting the end of time drew upon him the hostility of the Lutherians, one of whom (Tegetmaier) forced Hoffmann to leave Dorpat. In Stockholm, where he got married, Hoffmann fixed 1533 as the advent of the era of the saints. Exiled by Gustave Vasa, he fled to Luebeck with his wife and children, then went to Magdeburg for a while; the Lutherian Nicolas Amsdorf demanded his expulsion. Welcomed in Holstein, he was flushed out by the intrigues of Luther, whose zeal in persecuting dissidents was the envy of the inquisitors. Summoned by Duke Christian to present himself at a public confrontation in Flensburg, Hoffmann responded, not without pride, to the question of his partisans: "I do not recognize any adherents. I hold myself upright and only in the Word [Verbe] of God. Each one does the same."
Chased from Denmark, Hoffmann took refuge in Frise, where he encountered Carlstadt, then went to Strasbourg. There in 1529 he published his Dialogues on the quarrels of Flensburg. He associated with Caspar Schwenckfeld and produced prophetic texts. Then Hoffmann joined the Anabaptists and intervened at the Council at Strasbourg so that a church might be assigned to them. This brought a torch to the fire of the repression. Once again he was forced into exile. In Frise, he founded an Anabaptist community, while Luther raged against those whom he (drawing upon Hoffmann's first name) called "Melchiorites." Luther's words had the virtues of a guillotine blade. In 1531, Volkertszoon and eight [other] Melchiorites wee decapitated at The Hague. Stirred by the ardor of their martyrdom, Hoffmann preached in Hess and Frise where, around 1532, Obbe Philipps became his disciple.
In the incessant glow of the violence, Hoffmann suddenly proposed -- in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans -- a peaceful conception of Anabaptism that excluded all recourse to weapons, pursuaded as he was that the redemption of humanity proceded from those who preach in the desert.
He had scarcely appeased the notables and the [property] owners when a pamphlet in which he addressed prayers, not to the Christ nor to the Holy-Spirit but to God alone, displeased the Protestant clergy, prompted like all the priests and ministers to take offense that one might address oneself to the master of the heavens without referring to the masters of the earth. Bucer, the Pope of Strasbourg, would order his arrest.
His biographers have estimated that this was an error from the point of view of maintaining order, because his growing influence little by little counterbalanced the directives of the insurrectional wing of Anabaptism which, growing in Holland, would soon inspire a wave of urban revolts that ran aground in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Luebeck, but succeeded in Munster.
After the defeat of the Munsterites, among whom his disciple Rothman perished, the conditions of Hoffmann's detention became more serious. Only the hope of dragging a public retraction out of him -- which were indeed the means that Bucer and Capito used -- could save him from capital punishment. He died in 1543, never having lost his eloquence, his naivete or his faith in the imminence of the terrestrial Jerusalem.
Ironically, the majority of Hoffmann's disciples would find themselves at the center of the Munsterian powder keg. But it is true that, for close to a century, Anabaptism expressed in theological terms an endemic insurrectional situation, the violence of which most often got lost in the countries dominated by Catholicism and its religious wars. Like Hans Denck, who ironically regretted that God had not permitted him to believe in God, the Anabaptists substituted for the God of feudalism a collectivist God elected by the members of their own party. In this sense, Munster offered a beautiful example of the divine collectivism that was headed for a frightening future once God was removed from office by the State, which, self-sufficient, would no longer feel the need to invoke a celestial phantom to perpetuate the reign of fear on earth.
"North-west Germany at the beginning of the Sixteenth Century consisted in the main of a number of petty ecclesiastical states, each with a prince-bishop as its sovereign. Usually such a state was torn by fierce social conflicts. The government of the state was in the hands of the prince-bishop and of the chapter of the diocese, which elected him and to a large extent controlled his policy. The members of the chapter were recruited solely from the local aristocracy -- a coat of arms with at least four quarterings was commonly an indispensable qualification -- and they often chose one of their own number as bishop. This group of aristocratic clerics was subject to no control by any higher authority; in the regional diet they were powerfully represented and could always rely on the support of the knighthood. They therefore tended to govern solely in the interest of their own class and of the clergy of the diocese. In the ecclesiastical state, the clergy were not only very numerous -- in the bisphoric of Munster there were some thirty ecclesiastical centres, including four monasteries, seven convents, ten churches, a cathedral and of course the chapter itself -- but also highly privileged. Members of the chapter enjoyed rich prebends and canonries. The monks were permitted to carry on secular trades and handicrafts. Above all, the clergy as a whole were almost entirely exempt from taxation."
In 1531, Chaplain Bernt Rothmann was converted to Lutheranism at Munster. He enjoyed the support of the guilds and a rich textile manufacturer, Knipperdollinck. Seduced by the prophetic inspiration of Melchior Hoffmann, Rothmann preached the imminence of the "messianic sorrows" that announced the birth of a new era in 1533, the 15th centenary of the death of the Christ.
Upon the death of the bishop, the guilds opened the town to Reformed pastors. Hunted everywhere, the Anabaptists came there as if to the promised land.
In 1531, Sebastian Franck summarized The Fifth Epistle attributed to Clement thus:
A little later, Nemrod would reign and then whomever was successful at it dominated the next one. And they began to divide the world and to quarrel about questions of property. One then distinguished Mine from Thine. Finally, the people became savage, like wild beasts. Each one wanted to be more beautiful and better than the others, in fact hoping to become their master. But God had made all things to be held in common, as today we still take advantage in common of the air, fire, the rain and the sun, and which several thievish and tyrannical men cannot appropriate and keep jealously for themselves.
The Fifth Epistle was partial to Rothmann, whose popularity was growing among the afflux of unemployed Dutch workers, whom the rich Lutherians could not see wandering the streets of the city, penetrated with holiness, without experiencing fear.
The imprisonment of Melchior Hoffmann in Strasbourg weakened the pacifist faction and favored the efflorescence of the apostles and prophets who were more willing to brandish the torch of Munster. Among them, the baker Jan Matthys of Haarelm and Jan Bockelson (also called John of Leyden) set themselves up as the spokesmen for a crowd for which God had prepared to set the table for a new egalitarian law.
In February 1534, a veritable hysteria for conversion seized the city; the streets were filled with ecstatics who professed their obedience to the eternal Father, to whom they delivered the city hall without striking a blow. Lutherians and Catholics took flight while Munster was proclaimed the New Jerusalem through the voices of Rothmann, Matthys and Bockelson.
The goods of the banished Lutherians and Catholics were confiscated and used to enrich communal funds. While a decree promulgated the death penalty for those who balked at letting themselves be rebaptized, the Bishop of Munster organized the siege of the town and alerted the princes and municipal counsels so that the hordes who were converging upon the egalitarian millennium could be intercepted and massacred.
After the death of Matthys, who was killed during a sortie that a divine order conjoined him to attempt, Bockelson imposed a collectivist regime and a theocratic dictatorship by virtue of which all opposition was a crime of high treason.
Each was paid by the municipal power; in the refectories, communal meals assured the needs of all under the auspices of fraternal communion. Since property depended upon sin, it was mandated that the doors of the houses be kept open. The executions of "heretics," presided over by "the King of the Final Days," went on and on in an atmosphere of terror, to which famine was soon added. Like all paradises of celestial or governmental [etatique] obedience, the reign of the perfect ones turned into Hell.
The millenarianist revolution imploded into horror. After the reconquest of the town by the besiegers, the great fear caused by Anabaptism would efface the dream and nightmare of the collectivists of God with a still greater ferocity. In silent agony, John of Leyden, Knipperdollinck and their friend Krechting -- carved alive by burning pincers -- condensed into an eternal silence the inhumanity of the oppressor and the oppression that continues to reign under the deceptive name of human history.
The annihilation of Munster enraged the hardliners at the same time that the pacifism of Huebmaier and old Hoffmann restored Anabaptism to the road of sweet resignation. The odor of holiness would again be found in the very fetidity of God's carnivorous breath.
Although persecuted as much as the Munsterites, the disciples of an old priest named Menno Simonsz (1496 to around 1560), or the "Mennonites," professed a resolutely nonviolent doctrine that was stripped of collectivist demands. In 1537, the tendency inspired by Huebmaier fell under the control of Simonsz, who organized it and founded one of the many Protestant churches still in vogue today in Holland, the United States and Canada.
By contrast, the guerilla war led by John of Battenburg, born in 1495 in Gueldre, marked a stage of transition between the disaster at Munster and the unfurling of the iconoclasts in the southern Netherlands and northern France.
Abandoning his functions as the Mayor of Steenwijck in the Overijssel, John of Battenburg rallied the insurrectional wing of the Anabaptists and, in 1535 -- during a tumult caused by the sect -- seized Oldeklooster, a monastery in the Bolsward region.
That same year, he founded with the survivors of Munster the group called Zwaardgeesten, "The Spirits of the Sword." Identifying himself with Elie, and tasked with preparing the return of the Christ to earth, Battenburg called for the destruction of churches, preached polygamy and the community of goods, demanded divorce when one of the partners in a couple refused to practice confession, and exhorted his followers to exterminate with their swords anyone who didn't share his opinions.
In 1536, the Congress of Bocholt tried in vain to reconcile the Munsterites, the partisans of Battenburg and the sectarians of David Joris. The pacifists carried the day and Battenburg's appeal to armed struggle was judged to be premature.
Arrested in 1537 in Vilvorde near Brussels, Battenburg died on the pyre in 1538, leaving Zeylmaker, Appelman and Mickers at the head of the Zwaardgeesten. The attacks against the monasteries and churches increased; the places that were sacked were located in Alkmaar (1538), Utrecht (1541), the Overijssel, Frise, Brabant, Leyden and the surroundings of Munster, where the Battenburgist Peter Van Ork was burned in 1544. Despite the execution of Appelman in Leyden that same year, the anti-clerical actions intensified in Frise (1549), Alost (1550), where a group of insurgents practiced sexual freedom, Leyden (1552) and Courtrai (1553).
The sacking of churches and the asassinations of their ministers aroused popular approval, "because the people who did not like priests were not lacking and they gladly applauded the priests' troubles and disasters" and wanted to "hang the assholes [couilles] in the air," as Marc Van Vaernewijck reported in his Memoirs of a Ghentian Patrician on the Religious Troubles in Flanders.
Even when the leaders of the Battenburg party disappeared, the Anabaptist uprisings did not any less inflame the Netherlands and northern France. But with a growing obviousness the social and political motives gained the upper hand on the [strictly] religious character. The national[ist] struggle undertaken in the Netherlands against Spanish domination created an odd front in which the most diverse interests tried to unite upon the general discontent, which lacked a shared programme. The nobles uneasily tolerated the restrictions imposed on their regional privileges by the absolutism of Philippe II; the bourgeoisie balked at paying taxes for a war that hindered its growth; even the clergy feared having its hands tied by the State power that the Inquisition wanted to have with a self-interested fervor. As far as the "malicious animal called the people," to use the words of Granvelle, the Governor of the Netherlands, it had only the recourse of toppling those responsible and the symbols of its oppression, that is to say, nearly the totality of what surrounded it.
The social violence was doubly useful for the political designs of the candidate for power: it would bring William of Orange to royalty and fostered his legend as the liberator of the northern provinces. Through the repression that it incurred, once victory was assured, it would legitimate him in the eyes of the princes, who were impatient to cage the wild beasts after letting them roar for a while.
In 1566, the discontent seemed to come from Saint-Omer. (As early as 1562, two Calvinist weavers led to the pyre in Valenciennes were liberated by rioters. In 1564, the people forced open the doors at the prisons in Bruges and Brussels.) The troubles spread to the north. On 13 August , in Bailleul, the crowd destroyed the cloister, burned the crosses and the sacerdotal habits, and brought down the tabernacles. The sacking lasted eights months and spread to Armentieres, Menin, Hondschoote (which was so constant in its resolution that, later, the commissars of the Duke of Albe -- charged with penal sanctions -- kept far away), Tournai, where several magistrates embraced the party of the iconoclasts, a part of Artois, Brabant, Utrecht, Zelande and Amsterdam. In Antwerp, the houses of the rich were pillaged on the third day.
On 8 April 1566, taking the unfurling of iconoclasticism as their pretext, Catholics and Calvinists presented a reprimand to the Regent Marguerite of Parme and to the "bad counselors to the King" that was known as the "Compromise of the Nobles." In it, the Catholics and Calvinists matched their rejection of absolutism with their promise to restore order. They adorned themselves, as with an emblem, with the epithet "Beggar," which a minister had applied to them in an insulting manner and for which the destroyers of cathedrals vyied. On 25 August 1566, Marguerite of Parme feigned to give in. She decreed the suppression of the Inquisition, the freedom of the Reformed religion and amnesty for the nobles accused of conspiracy. The latter hastened to suppress the riots and intervened in the consistories to calm peoples' spirits. William of Orange marched on Antwerp and the Count of Egmont attempted to restore order in Flanders, where the number of rebels was estimated at 60,000 out of a total of 200,000 inhabitants.
Reassured by guarantees of freedom offered to their ministries, the Calvinist preachers condemned the iconoclastic party, whose ardor had not weakened. At first, those whom one in northern France called the "howlers" [hurlus] abstained from killing and carrying off ecclesiastical goods that were generally destroyed on the spot. They prided themselves on only leaving behind the rubble of some 400 churches.
Having concentrated the Spanish troops, Marguerite went on the offensive in December 1566. She annulled the decisions that dictated to her the necessity of temporizing and sent the army to Armentieres, Tournai and Valenciennes, where it brought the repression begun under feudalism to a good end.
William of Orange and Brederode fled to the northern provinces, where an open guerrilla war was being fought against Spain. The expeditious justice instituted by the envoy of Philippe II, the Duke of Albe, spared neither the iconoclasts, the Catholics, the Calvinists nor the nobles who were judged to be disloyal. (The Counts of Egmont and Hornes were decapitated in 1568.)
In the southern provinces, the "Beggars" of the forests fought in Hainaut and Artois under the leadership of William of La Marck, and in Flanders under Jan Camerlynck, originally from Hondschoote, and the preachers Michiels and de Heule, the son of a rich family from Bruges. On their side, Jan Abels and the "Beggars" of the seas attacked Spanish ships with the aid of light, small boats. They benefited from the benevolence of Elizabeth of England and the aid of William of Orange, who in tried to make them submit to his authority. On 1 April 1572, the seizure of the port of La Brielle and the subsequent occupation of Flessingue marked a decisive stage in the liberation of Holland. Albe, who sank in his attempt to reconquer it, was recalled to Spain the following year. The movement of the "Beggars" fell under the blows of William of Orange and, in the south, was only able to launch political conspiracies that had no results.
The last flare-up of revolutionary Anabaptism would embrace the regions of Cleve and Wesel in Westphalia in 1567. A shoemaker named Jan Willemsen would led 300 adepts (among whom were survivors of Munster) in the nth version of the New Jerusalem, to which Adamite practices gave a bit of piquancy. Polygamy was prescribed and the Messiah Willemsen would marry 21 chosen ones. The community of goods did not implicate an economy of production; the saints lived off of raids and pillaging, attacking the homes of the priests and nobles. They lasted a dozen years before succumbing to punitive expeditions.
 N. Cohn, Les fanatiques de l'Apocalypse, p. 255. [Translator's note: Norman Cohn, In Pursuit of the Millennium, New York, 1961, p. 250. Rather than translate Cohn back into English, we have quoted directly from the original.]
 M. Pianzola, Peintres et vilains, Paris, 1962. [Translator's note: in 1974, Vaneigem himself used the pseudonym "Ratgeb" to publish De la greve sauvage a l'autogestion generalisee, translated by Paul Sharkey in 1981 as From Wildcat Strike to Total Self-Management.]
 N. Cohn, op. cit., p. 270. [Translator's note: Norman Cohn, In Pursuit of the Millennium, p. 267.]
 Ibid., p. 278. [Translator's note: Norman Cohn, In Pursuit of the Millennium, p. 275: "[...] Christ would return to earth and placed the two-edged sword of justice in the hands of the rebaptized Saints. The Saints would hold judgment on the priests and pastors for their false teachings and, above all, on the great ones of the earth for their persecutions; kings and nobles would be cast into chains."]
 Mennonite Encyclopedia, Scottdale, 1955-1959, article "Melchior Hoffmann."
 N. Cohn, op. cit., p. 279. [Translator's note: though there is nothing on p. 275 of Cohn's In Pursuit of the Millennium that would call for such a footnote on Vaneigem's part, it is certain that he is supporting Cohn's basic thesis.]
 Ibid., p. 280. [Translator's note: Norman Cohn, In Pursuit of the Millennium, p. 276.]
 S. Franck, Chronica, GA.
 Barret and Gurgand, Le Roi des derniers jours, Paris, 1981.
 M. Van Vaernewijck, Memoires d'un patricien gantois sur les troubles religiuex de Flandre.
 Ibid., p. 23.
 Bouterwek and N. Cohn, Zur Literatur und Geschiscte der Wiedertaufer, Bonn, 1884, p. 306.
(Published by Fayard in 1993. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! All footnotes by the author, except where noted.)