Braitmichel, Kaspar (d. 1573)
Kaspar Braitmichel (d. 1573), sometimes also called Kaspar Schneider because he was a tailor, the first chronicler of the Hutterite Brethren in Moravia. Born in Silesia like his fellow brother Peter Riedemann, he joined the Hutterite brotherhood during its hardest time in the 1530s, perhaps as early as 1533. In 1538 he was chosen Diener der Notdurft (deacon). In the following year he was captured during a religious service at Steinabrunn together with 150 others and taken to nearby castle Falkenstein (Lower Austria), whence all the brethren were sent to Trieste for work on Venetian galleys. He managed somehow to escape, and then returned to Moravia or rather to adjoining Slovakia where new Bruderhofs had just been established. In 1548 he was chosen by the lot to be Diener des Wortes (preacher) of the Holitsch Bruderhof. Later on he seems to have moved back to Austerlitz in Moravia, which then was the center of the entire brotherhood. This move was perhaps due to his alert interest in the history of the group and his fine gift for writing. Perhaps he became the clerk of the Vorsteher or the archivist of the brotherhood. In Austerlitz he died in peace in 1573.
Braitmichel was the beginner of the official church chronicle of the Hutterites called the Geschichts-Buch, which work he must have started toward the end of his life, during the period of the outstanding Vorsteher Peter Walpot. He begins this work with an elaborate summary of church history "from the beginning of the world" to the year 1520, taken chiefly from Sebastian Franck's Chronica. Then he continues his story up to the year 1542. In his signed preface he apologizes that he could not carry his work further due to his poor eyesight and other physical frailty. Yet we have also another chronicle from his hand, now in the library of the Hungarian Primate at Esztergom, Hungary (described as Codex I by Beck, Geschichts-Bücher), which runs again "from the beginning of the world" up to 1534 (the first 70 leaves). This chronicle served perhaps as a preliminary experiment in such annalistic activities, and may later have inspired the larger enterprise of the official Chronicle. In two other Hutterite codices one finds a short report of historical nature, Wie die Brüder von dem Gabriel (i.e., Ascherham) sich mit uns vereinigt haben . . . (in 1545), also drawn up by Braitmichel who most likely had been present at these negotiations and may even have taken the minutes of this event. This brief account was later incorporated into the larger Chronicle (Zieglschmid, Chronik, 250-257) by the continuer of Braitmichel's work, the brother Zapff. Also two epistles from Braitmichel's hand have been preserved, one sent in 1568 to the brother Leonhard Dax and his fellow sufferers in prison at Alzey, Palatinate, the other containing an admonition to repentance, sent to Silesia, his home country where the Gabrielite brethren lived. All this indicates that he filled an important position in the leadership of the brotherhood. Four hymns written by him are found in the Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder: "Merkt auf, herzliebe Brüder mein" (12 stanzas); "O Herre Gott vom Himmel reich" (53 stanzas); "Christliche Art, Eifer and Trieb" (30 stanzas); "Ich schrei zu dir, O Herre Gott" (8 stanzas).
See also Hutterite Chronicles
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 253.
Die Lieder der Hutterischen Brüder: Gesangbuch darinnen viel und mancherlei schöne Betrachtungen, Lehren, Vermahnungen, Lobgesänge und Glaubensbekenntnisse, von vielen Liebhabern Gottes gedichtet und aus vielen Geschichten und Historien der heiligen Schrift zusammengetragen, allen frommen Liebhabern Gottes sehr nützlich zu singen und zu lessen. Scottdale, Pa. : Mennonitisches Verlagshaus, 1914. Reprinted Cayley, AB: Hutterischen Brüdern in Kanada, 1962: 98-101, 175-178, 647-703.
Loserth, Johann. Der Communismus der mährischen Wiedertäufer im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert: Beiträge zu ihrer Geschichte, Lehre und Verfassung. Vienna, 1894.
Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop: B. De Graaf, 1965: 231.
Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 402. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Friedmann, Robert. "Braitmichel, Kaspar (d. 1573)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B7363.html.
APA style: Friedmann, Robert. (1953). Braitmichel, Kaspar (d. 1573). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B7363.html.