The Tailor-King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Muenster by Anthony Arthur

The Tailor-King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Muenster

byAnthony Arthur

Kobo ebook | April 1, 2011

Pricing and Purchase Info


Prices and offers may vary in store

Available for download

Not available in stores


He was only a Dutch tailor's apprentice, but from 1534 to 1535, Jan van Leyden led a radical sect of persecuted Anabaptists to repeated triumphs over the combined powers of church and state. Revered by his followers as the new David, the charismatic young leader pronounced the northern German city of Muenster a new Zion and crowned himself king. He expropriated all private property, took sixteen wives (supposedly emulating the biblical patriarchs), and in a deadly reign of terror, executed all who opposed him. As the long siege of Muenster resulted in starvation, thousands fled Jan's deadly kingdom while others waited behind the double walls and moats for the apocalyptic final attack by the Prince-Bishop's hired armies, supported by all the rulers of Europe.

With the sudden rise to power of a compelling personality and the resulting violent threat to ordered society, Jan van Leyden's distant story strangely echoes the many tragedies of the twentieth century. More than just a fascinating human drama from the past, The Tailor-King also offers insight into our own troubled times.

Title:The Tailor-King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of MuensterFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:April 1, 2011Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:142997043X

ISBN - 13:9781429970433

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Tailor King Many of us would think that David Koresh, Jim Jones or Charles Manson are modern phenomenons. Think again. Jan van Leiden considered himself a man chosen by G-d to usher in a glorious new age of peace and godliness across Europe. Jan was an Anabaptist - one of the sects that sprouted like weeds once the Catholic Church was splintered by the Reformation. His people believed that one could only come to the Kingdom of Heaven by willingly being baptized as an adult. They also believed in some fairly-forward thinking ideas such as pacifism, freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state - ideas that could get you killed in the early 1530s. Jan, from the Dutch city of Leiden, came to Münster in 1533. He had heard that the city was friendly to Anabaptists and that he'd be able to make something of himself amongst a group of fellow believers. He heard correctly. Within months of his arrival, Jan, along with a few of his Anabaptist followers, had seized control of the city, kicking out the city's council and stacking it with fellow believers. They achieved this mostly by running around the streets in a state of half-dressed religious zeal, singing about the End of Days and the glories that awaited G-d's chosen ones. Amazingly, this worked - you have to remember that this was an age of intense religious strife and hysteria. Anyone promising a little peace and prosperity far from the blood and muck of this world was considered worth hearing out. Unfortunately, power began to go to their heads. The 'rules' began to get a little crazy. Capital punishment without a trial started to be the order of the day. The medieval version of the ATF stepped in, surrounded the city and prepared to starve the people into submission. Eventually, some were brave enough to escape Munster and help the local Bishop storm the city and regain control. Jan and two of his most loyal cronies were arrested and eventually executed in a most painful, slow and torturous manner. Their bodies were put on display in three cages hung from the church steeple as a 'warning' to anyone else who might try to rock the boat. If you visit the city of Munster today, you will still see the cages hanging there today. This is a fascinating book and I would highly recommend it to any history buff.
Date published: 2016-04-16