Deventer (Overijssel, Netherlands)
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Deventer is a city in the Dutch province of Overijssel (coordinates: 52° 15′ 30″ N, 6° 10′ 0″ E), with a 2007 population of over 96,000. The Anabaptists made their first appearance here in the 1530s. The first phase of Anabaptism in this city was of a revolutionary character, under the direct influence of Münster and later of Batenburg. The cry of the New Jerusalem in Münster appealed to the lowly as well as the upper classes, promising the baptized and the elect a happy life under the dominion of Christ. Hille van Renssen, a widow, Aleid ten Poorten and Lubbe van Wijnssen, as well as her brothers, the mayor Jacob van Wijnssen, and Johan van Wijnssen de Jonge, W. Jurriaen, an apothecary, and several others went to Münster in 1533-1534, and were baptized either in Deventer or in Münster. Upon their return to Deventer government authorities arrested them or banished them from the city. Jacob van Wijnssen and five other Anabaptists were beheaded on de Brink (a square) in February 1535, and Fenne, the wife of the notorious leader Jan van Geelen, was drowned in April. Nevertheless the doctrine continued in secret, despite the repeated proclamations of the government, and after 1540 showed itself in the revolutionary following of Batenburg and later of the mystical David Joris. Jurriaen Ketel, the publisher of Joris' Wonderboek, was beheaded for this publication on 9 August 1544, and the printer Dirk van Borne was arrested with Albert Paffraedt, who had printed several tracts by David Joris. They were released six months later when they had proved their faithfulness to the Catholic Church.
After this repression, Anabaptism was hardly felt in Deventer until about 1570, when religious strife was renewed and in March 1571, twelve peaceful Mennonites, six men and six women, were dragged from their homes by the Spanish soldiers and imprisoned, at times racked and finally beheaded or burned by the Inquisition. Most of them valiantly persisted in their faith. When Deventer was freed from the Spanish yoke in 1578, the Mennonites again appeared there and held secret meetings, although this was forbidden by the magistrate. Their refusal to serve as armed guards gave rise to some brief difficulties in 1580. Quietly and little noticed by the world they continued to hold their meetings, living on a high moral plane, withdrawn from the world. Incited by intolerant Reformed preachers, the government forbade their meetings in 1619, 1620, 1623, 1628, 1652, 1663 and 1670. But these regulations were never seriously carried out. In 1651 the States-General passed a ruling in the Naerder Unie stating that though the Mennonites were among the groups excluded from the protection of the government, they were to be quietly tolerated. At that time they had in Deventer two congregations, one of the Old Flemish, which met in the home of their preacher Abraham Willemsz Cremer, and one of High and United Flemish, who had Jan ten Cate as their preacher and met in the home of Ananias Willink. The Reformed found this toleration of the Mennonites offensive, and in 1669-1670 tried to turn the government against them with charges of Socinianism, with the proposal that the Mennonites be required to answer 12 questions as a test. The result was that many polemics were printed, bringing new government prohibition of their meetings, which was, however, not seriously enforced.
For the free exercise of their religion they paid 3,000 Reichstaler in 1672-1674, when Deventer was occupied by the armies of the Catholic bishops of Cologne and Münster. In 1690 they acquired release from civil defense by purchasing and presenting to the city two fire engines, which were operated throughout the 18th century by Mennonites, and which are now in the Deventer museum. They were several times refused admittance into the guilds, and were forbidden to perform marriages in their church (provision of 1670). But this was the last act of unfriendliness on the part of the government. In 1711 many Swiss Mennonite refugees were lodged in Deventer and later given homes.
The two congregations united in 1720, after several members had withdrawn and moved to Hoogezand in the province of Groningen on account of growing worldliness in the Deventer congregation. The congregation developed quietly. They made large gifts to their brethren in Poland, Lithuania and Danzig, as well as to non-Mennonites, such as the Reformed refugees from Frankfurt in 1685. They sometimes also received large legacies. As late as 1662 they had to contribute such a legacy to the city for poor relief. In 1627, surprisingly, a deaconess was in charge of the care of the poor; this office was later given to a brother. Slight misunderstandings such as on the wearing of the periwig were settled on a friendly basis. The Old Flemish congregation had bought a church in the Korte Assenstraat in 1687, which was used until 1892. Baptism and communion were usually conducted by elders from Groningen. In 1761 the congregation called its first theologically educated minister; he was Hendrik Waerma. He was succeeded by Wybo Fijnje, 1774-1776; Jacob Kuiper, 1775-1821; J. H. Halbertsma, 1821-1856; H. ten Cate Hoedemaker, 1856-1889; S. Lulofs, 1889-1902; A. H. van Drooge, 1902-1939; and H. P. Tulner, after 1939. In 1797 the hitherto conservative congregation added an organ.
In 1891 the congregation replaced its old building with a beautiful new church in the Penninckhoek on de Brink. It has never been large, but increased in membership in the 19th century. At the time of the union of the two congregations in 1720 there were about 40 members; in 1784, 37; 1840, 80; 1898, 255; 1950, 325.
Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doops-gesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 552 ff.
Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 885 ff. Available online at: http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/index.htm.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen. (1870): 16 ff; (1879): 3, 97; (1919): 1-109.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: I, 430.
Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: I, Nos. 69, 84, 90, 246, 263, 267, 271, 278, 309, 318, 347; II, Nos. 1261, 1691.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 45-46. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van Slee, J. C. and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Deventer (Overijssel, Netherlands)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/deventer_overijssel_netherlands.
APA style: van Slee, J. C. and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1956). Deventer (Overijssel, Netherlands). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/deventer_overijssel_netherlands.