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Chapter Summary

Undoubtedly, one of the most lurid events of the Reformation was the takeover in 1534 of the city of Münster by a variety of Anabaptists who proceeded to institute polygamy and a form of collective ownership of property and to elect a Dutch tailor as their king. The major contemporary history of the Anabaptist kingdom of Münster is the massive Latin history written by the schoolmaster Herman of Kerssenbrock, a work that is disparaged more than read by modern scholars. It provides much information not otherwise preserved and is valuable in its own right as a contemporary’s reaction to such astonishing events. This introduction chapter lays out the religious context of these events, to explain some of the political and cultural aspects of early sixteenth-century history. It also gives a short account of Kerssenbrock’s life and his historiographical methods.

Keywords: Anabaptists; Herman of Kerssenbrock; Münster; Reformation

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