“It was Pyrrhic victory,” wrote James W. Lowry. He was referring to the execution of Hans Landis in Zurich, Switzerland, in the year 1614. The state church meant to impress the citizens with its seriousness about eradicating Anabaptism from its territory. But it backfired – it was too much for the citizens. In addition, a Reformed man from Holland was present, saw the execution of the seventy-year-old man by beheading, went home to Holland, generated protests from himself, others of the Dutch Reformed, the Dutch Mennonites, and even involved the Dutch government.
The Swiss government in Zurich then changed its tactics. Though Hans Landis was the last to be executed there, persecution was accelerated in other ways – imprisonments, confiscation of property, and exile. Many Swiss Anabaptists (Swiss Brethren) emigrated to Germany, Holland, and Alsace (now in France). Having been forced to leave behind many of their possessions and finding themselves in a strange land, they suffered severe poverty.
The Dutch Mennonites and others not only protested the Swiss treatment of the Swiss Brethren, but also extended benevolence in response to their need. This resulted in a long series of letters between the Dutch and the Swiss. Those letters have been lying in the archives of Europe ever since. They have been available to scholars with credentials to gain access and linguistic ability to read those documents handwritten in early Dutch, German, and Latin and to decipher the writings with their varied penmanship and old vocabulary.
To the rescue: James W. Lowry. Three books2 with a combined total of more than 2,200 pages represent Lowry’s work transcribing and translating the documents. This set of three books contains nearly 325 documents extending from the years of 1608 to 1711.
Next Annual Meeting of the Casselman Historians
WHEN: September 14 & 15, 2018
7:00 – Business Meeting
7:30 – Historical Program
9:00 A.M. – Historical Program
12:00 Noon – Lunch Served in Basement
Afternoon – Tour or other activity if announced
WHERE: At Maple Glen Mennonite Church, Grantsville, Md. (see Google map below)
SUBJECT: The Oppresssion of the Early Swiss Anabaptists and the Dutch Response of Aid.
GUEST SPEAKERs: James W. Lowry and John L. Ruth