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The Tailor King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster Hardcover – September 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
Carnage abounds in this shocking account of the 16th-century Anabaptist revolt of M?nster, during which some 9000 residents barricaded themselves in the north German town for more than a year, proclaiming a militant, anti-Catholic theocracy. Led by the 24-year-old Jan van Leyden, a charismatic tailor's apprentice from Holland, the revolt quickly jettisoned its promise of a community united by voluntary faith, becoming instead a textbook study in extremism. The Anabaptist message, contends Arthur, was predicated on the appeal of the irrationalAsignally, a zealous belief that the Second Coming would unfold in 1534 in M?nster, where the loyal Anabaptists would wage the ultimate battle between good and evil. A master propagandist, the young, self-anointed King Jan swiftly ordered all books save the Bible consigned to a bonfire and even declared a new order of marriage: mandatory polygamy. Amply serviced by his 16-wife harem, Jan then loosed what Arthur (Bushmasters, etc.) alternately describes as a reign of terror and a carnival of madness upon the town, in which pikestaffs whirled and halberds raged against unrepentant adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. Both Catholics and Protestants opposed the Anabaptists, and the sect's contempt for temporal authority of any kind made it the object of persecution by Germany's powerful princes. Students of millenarian movements will enjoy notable parallels to today's apocalyptic sects like the Branch Davidians. Vividly written and credibly researched, this book is entertaining history with implicit contemporary relevance. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Every revolution has a radical fringe, and the Reformation was no exception. The Anabaptists, who took over and created their own kingdom in the northern German city of M?enster, frightened even Martin Luther. Arthur (English, California State Univ., Northridge) has written an excellent account of the Anabaptist kingdom, which has not received much attention recently. His is one of the more readable academic histories in recent memory. Arthur deftly uses primary sources to craft a story that reads like a good thriller. His analysis in the final chapter is a masterly comparison of the events in M?nster to what happened to the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX. Any doubts about the importance of the bloody events of more than 400 years ago are erased by the parallels that Arthur draws. How could Waco, Oklahoma City, and Kosovo have happened? It all has happened before, with ghastly results. Highly recommended for public libraries and undergraduate collections.ARandall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll., Waverly, IA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Maiduguri, Boko Haram’s birthplace in Nigeria’s northeast, has not yet become the country's Muenster, but it is close enough. Remarkable similarity exists between the two movements. Like European Anabaptists, Boko Haram was a largely peaceful group practicing their own brand of Islam, until official persecution turned it violent. Anabaptists, Arthur says, “were dangerous not so much for their numbers as for the power of their message, with its vision of a pure restoration of the original Church and its vision of Jesus Christ welcoming them to a certain future in Heaven.” Similarly, Boko Haram aims to restore a pure form of Islam by establishing an Islamic State governed by sharia. The power of this message among some ordinary northern Nigerians is evidenced by popular support afforded to Boko Haram by such people, support which has prompted the Nigerian military to complain that the real enemy is the people they have been sent to protect.
Porous border areas between Holland and Germany, which enabled 'foreigners' like Jan Matthias and Jan van Leyden to enter Muenster and take control of the movement, are also characteristic of much of northern Nigeria and its neighboring states, allowing non-Nigerians who are not averse to violence to join Boko Haram, just as among the Anabaptists were some who “believed in the redeeming power of revenge, retribution, and violence.”
Whether Nigeria’s apocalyptic millenarians survive Chadian Army onslaughts and the African Union (AU) force being formed, remains to be seen. But it is looking more and more like Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan may share the same fate as Franz von Waldeck, the Prince-Bishop of Muenster, who spent 16 months trying to subdue the Anabaptists.
In the end, the latter were defeated, but Waldeck's victory was Pyrrhic. Like Waldeck's expensive struggle against the Anabaptists, the costs of the campaign against Boko Haram are likely to burden Jonathan's government, or that of his successor, for years. Second, he has already, like Waldeck, been criticized for procrastination in trying to crush Boko Haram and thereby lost credibility. Third, he has accepted help from neighboring countries, even allowing their troops to operate on Nigerian soil, which before now had been unthinkable. This is an embarrassing admission of the declining capability of his own security forces. Even if Jonathan succeeds in subduing Boko Haram, he very likely will have "lost control of his own destiny," as did Waldeck.
This book feel like it was written for a young age group. It is not bad but also certainly not what I was looking for.
Great book to give to a middle schooler. Teach them weird messed up facts about history!
of what happens when discernment is not applied to 'experience'.
I would recommend this book to mainline believers as well as 'Pentecostals', for what we can all learn about the benefits of peaceful reconciliation - and the horrors brought on by its lack.