Milder, Johannes (ca. 1628-1688)
Johannes Milder (ca. 1628-1688), a Hutterite leader, born in the brotherhood in Hungary, a tailor by vocation, was chosen preacher on 4 March 1660 in Sobotište and ordained on 13 March 1661. He experienced all the vicissitudes of the Thirty Years' War as they affected this settlement of the Hutterian Brethren with their many tribulations, quartering of troops, and oppression. Sobotište was the Bruderhof from which a delegation was sent to Holland in 1665 to ask aid, which they received.
Milder, in cooperation with the leader Johannes Rieger and his colleague Benjamin Poley, was outstanding in his fearless opposition to the efforts of Georg Szelepesenyi, the archbishop of Gran, royal chancellor and regent of Hungary, to catholicize the Brethren. On 11 March 1574 the three were summoned to Pressburg where about three hundred Lutheran and Calvinist preachers and teachers were assembled, who were subsequently expelled, imprisoned, and some of them sentenced to serve as galley slaves. The three Brethren were ordered by the agents of the Counter Reformation either to become Catholic or to leave the country. For days they were urged with promises and threats, at least to permit their children to be baptized. They replied that this was impossible, and said that they wished nothing but to serve and to make their living without harming anyone. The noblemen present gave them the best testimonial, finding only the one fault that they were not Catholics.
When Milder, Rieger, and Poley were about to go home, the archbishop had three halberdiers take them by force to the cathedral on Palm Sunday, when he held the High Mass. But the splendor of the cult did not make the desired impression on the three Brethren standing amid the worshipers; hence the archbishop had them brought to his castle in the train following his carriage and then dismissed them with orders to make their final decision within two weeks.
Upon their return to Sobotište the three Brethren reported their experience to the brotherhood and received their approbation. In April they reported to the archbishop's committee that they intended to remain steadfast. But the expected expulsion did not follow; it is said that the bishop of Wiener Neustadt intervened. While Sobotište was left in peace, there was no cessation of attempts to convert the Brethren in Trentschin. On 3 March 1676 the three Brethren were again summoned to Pressburg and confronted with the same promises and threats as in the previous year and then dismissed. Some of the landlords also took advantage of the situation and oppressed them. Then followed the quartering of troops in the period of the Turkish war, especially 1686-1687, as well as internal difficulties, such as the abandonment of communal living in Velke Levary.
In the summer of 1687 the leader Johannes Rieger died. The preachers of the Bruderhofs in Sobotište, Levary, Trentschin, Dechtitz, Schatmannsdorf, and St. Johannes on 20 August unanimously chose Milder as leader of the brotherhood. After less than 33 weeks in this office he died on 28 March 1688, at the age of 60.
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: III, 133 f.
Wolkan, Rudolf. Geschicht-Buch der Hutterischen Brüder. Macleod, AB, and Vienna, 1923.
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. 3, p. 687. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Dedic, Paul. "Milder, Johannes (ca. 1628-1688)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M5423.html.
APA style: Dedic, Paul. (1957). Milder, Johannes (ca. 1628-1688). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M5423.html.