St. Lambert's Church

Münster, Germany

St. Lambert's church in Münster was built between 1375 and 1450. It is best known for of three iron cages in which the bodies of Anabaptist leader Jan Matthys and his lieutenants were exhibited in 1535 after their torture and execution. This  was the last episode of so-called Münster Rebellion.

Jan Matthys was a charismatic Anabaptist leader in Haarlem. In 1534, an Anabaptist insurrection took control of Münster, the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire's Prince-Bishopric of Münster. John of Leiden, a Dutch Anabaptist, and a group of local merchants, summoned Matthys to come. Matthys identified Münster as the 'New Jerusalem', and on January 5, 1534, a number of his disciples entered the city and introduced adult baptism. Reformer Bernhard Rothmann apparently accepted 'rebaptism' that day, and well over 1000 adults were soon baptized.

They declared war on Franz von Waldeck, its expelled prince-bishop, who besieged the fortified town. In April 1534 on Easter Sunday, Matthys, who had prophesied God's judgment to come on the wicked on that day, made a sally forth with twelve followers, under the idea that he was a second Gideon, and was cut off with his entire band. He was killed, dismembered and his head stuck on a pike. Later that evening, his genitals were nailed to the city door.

The 25-year old John of Leiden was subsequently recognized as Matthys' religious and political successor, justifying his authority and actions by the receipt of visions from heaven. His authority grew, eventually proclaiming himself to be the successor of David and adopting royal regalia, honors and absolute power in the new 'Zion'. Meanwhile, most of the residents of Münster were starving as a result of the year-long siege.

After lengthy resistance, the city was taken by the besiegers on June 24, 1535 and John of Leiden and several other prominent Anabaptist leaders were captured and imprisoned. In January 1536 John of Leiden, Bernhard Knipperdolling and one more prominent follower, Bernhard Krechting, were tortured and executed in the marketplace of Münster. Their bodies were exhibited in cages, which hung from the steeple of St. Lambert's Church. The bones were removed later, but the cages hang there still.

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Details

Founded: 1375-1450
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Frank Engelhardt (15 months ago)
The Münster old town and his historical buildings are very nice, you feel like 200 years in the past.
Dimitris Tserk (15 months ago)
One of the best historical buildings in this city
Daniel Alexander (17 months ago)
Great place for a Christmas market. The space is well located for the centre of münster and had a great atmosphere when visiting. Architecture was well worth the visit and the site fits perfectly with everything around it.
Fahd Wani (17 months ago)
Personally I love to visit ancient architecture, if you have also share same interest like mine; a must to visit place!
Dave McCourt (17 months ago)
Really like this church especially the cages where they hung dead bodies as a lesson to the people of Munster
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