Simon Fokke: The anabaptistrevolt in Amsterdam (1747-1759)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

The anabaptistrevolt (Dutch is 'Wederdopersoproer') is one of the several revolts which happened in Amsterdam. The Anabaptists are a Christian group who reject the baptism of infants. Anabaptists are baptised when a person can make the difference between good and evil (i.o.w. when you are an adult). The movement began in Switzerland with Huldrych Zwingli and soon spread out across Germany and the Netherlands. More radical groups with the anabaptists movement began to preach an utopian society with absolute equality and the community of goods. These groups soon became into conflict with the governments of several countries in the 16th century. When Jan van Leiden and his group of anabaptists managed to capture the city of Münster in 1534 and turn it into a theocratic Anabaptist community, groups of anabaptists in the Netherlands also revolted. A group commanded by Jan van Geel first attacked the bloemkamp Cloister in Frisia but were defeated by Georg Schenck van Toutenburg, the stadhouder of Frisia. Jan van Geel managed toe escape and soon tried his luck again, this time in Amsterdam. On 10 may 1535, Jan van Geel and 40 anabaptist stormed the cityhall of Amsterdam and killed the mayor Pieter Colijn. Jan van Geel thought the people of Amsterdam would rise up and support him but that wasn't the case. Militairy forces of Amsterdam, probably the civic guard supported by a militia, counterattacked the same day and charged the cityhall (this is shown on the etching, click on the picture for a larger view). In the fight about 40 people were killed on both sides, inlcuding Jan van Geel. The surviving anabaptists were rounded up and executed. The anabaptists were heavily persecuted after these events by Protestant and Roman Catholic governments. The anabaptist movement was soon 'reinvented' by several religious leaders which resulted in the Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites. This etching is from 1747 - 1759.