Michael Sattler

1490-1527

(Picture by Ivan Moon from the files of Jan Gleysteen and printed in Anabaptist Portraits by John Allen Moore [Herald Press, 1984)

Sattler entered the Benedictine monastery at Freiburg and learned Greek and Hebrew.  He embraced Lutheran doctrines and left the monastery.  He was forced to flee Austria in 1525 when Ferdinand, Catholic King of Austria, announced a policy of heresy extermination.  He went to Zurich.   He was expelled from Zurich on November 18, 1525 for leading clandestine meetings of Anabaptists in the forests.  He went to Strassburg and then to Rottenburg, Germany.  On February 24, 1527 he preached at the conference of Anabaptists assembled at Schleitheim.  The conference approved the Schleitheim Confession that he wrote.  After the conference, he and his wife were arrested. 

At his trial Sattler defended the Anabaptist principle of nonresistance:

"If the Turks should make an invasion, they should not be resisted; for it is written:  Thou shalt not kill.  We ought not to defend ourselves against the Turks and our persecutors; but earnestly entreat God in our prayers, that he would repel and withstand them.  For my saying, that if I approved war, I would rather march forth against the so named Christians who persecute, imprision, and put to death, the pious Christians, I assign this reason:  the Turk is a true Turk, knows nothing of the Christian faith, and is a Turk according to the flesh; but you, wishing to be Christian, and making your boast of Christ, persecute the pious witnesses of Christ, and are Turks according to the Spirit.  Exodus 20:30; Matthew 7:7; Titus 1:16." (Estep, Anabaptist Story, p. 46.)

On May 20, 1527 Sattler was executed.  His sentence read:

"Michael Sattler shall be committed to the executioner.  The latter shall take him to the square and there first cut out his tongue, and then forge him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongs twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic." (Estep, Anabaptist Story, p. 40.)

Eight days later Sattler's wife received what King Ferdinand believed to be the best antidote to Anabaptism, "the third baptism."  She was drowned in the Neckar river.

 

 

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