Glait, Oswald (d. 1546)
Glait (Glayt, Glaidt, sometimes also called Oswald von Jamnitz after his last place of sojourn), Oswald, an Anabaptist martyr. He was born in Cham, Upper Palatinate, Germany, and was originally a monk or priest. Early in the 1520s he joined the Lutheran Church, went to Austria, and became for a while a minister in Leoben, Styria. Expelled from there and "from all of Austria for the sake of the Word of God," he turned to Nikolsburg in 1525, where the Lutherans had organized a church under the protection of Leonhard von Liechtenstein, led by Hans Spittelmaier. Glait now became the assistant minister of this congregation. Nikolsburg was at that time a real haven for all kinds of non-Catholic groups such as Bohemian Brethren (formerly Hussites), Lutherans, and the more spiritualistic minded "Habrovans." In 1526 Glait supported an attempt by the Moravian nobleman Jan Dubcansky, to unite all these "evangelical" parties. With the consent of several Moravian noblemen Dubcansky called a "synod" to Austerlitz which Glait also attended. The latter's report of this event was printed with the title, Handlung yetz den XIV tag Marcij dis XXVI jars, so zu Osterlitz in Merhern durch erforderte versammlung viler pfarrer und priesterschaften, auch etlicher des Adels und anderer, in Christlicher lieb und ainigkeyt beschehen und in syben artickeln beschlossen, mit sambt derselben artickel erhlärung. I. Cor. I. (only known copy in the National Library in Vienna). This synod was certainly a great event: on the one side were more than one hundred "Utraquist" ministers (Bohemian Brethren), on "our" (Lutheran) side were many more. At the center sat the nobles, Dubcansky and other manorial lords of the area. Appointed commissioners called attention to the differences of doctrine and requested a comparison, so that the poor populace might not be bewildered. The decision must be left to the clear Word of God; human rank and descent should play no role. Of the seven articles discussed (Wiswedel, 553-555) the fourth might be mentioned: "No one should be admitted at the Lord's Table unless he be born again before, through the Word of God." In general, the type of faith defended was closest to the Zwinglian. Agreement was finally reached, and every participant added his signature (date: 19 March 1526).
A few weeks later Hubmaier arrived in Nikolsburg as a refugee. His reputation must have preceded him, for he found a great following right from the beginning. The town now became to the Anabaptists "what Emmaus was to the Lord. . . ." Apparently Glait also received believer's baptism. In Glait's room Hubmaier finished (July 1526) his book, Der uralten und neuen Lehrer Urteil, dass man die jungen Kinder nit taufen soll bis sie im Glauben unterrichtet sind. Hubmaier set to work to replace the former Lutheran congregation by an Anabaptist brotherhood, with the approval of the Lord of Liechtenstein. This stimulated Glait to do more writing. In 1527 he published his second tract, Entschuldigung Osbaldi Glaidt von Chamb . . . etlicher Artickel Verklärung so ihnen von Misgönnern fälschlich verkehrt und also nachgeredt worden ist (printed at Nikolsburg by Simprecht Sorg, called "Froschauer," who printed all the Hubmaier tracts). In this tract Glaidt sought to answer the many calumnies of the Barefoot Friars of nearby Feldsberg who had spread all kinds of stories about the "evangelicals" of Nikolsburg and about Glait in particular. "Everyone knows that these things were not true," Glait asserts, "but I would rather be called a 'heretic' with Christ than a 'holy father' with the pope." Since they had charged him with false doctrines, which might confuse the common man, he would now discuss the articles in question. The following points are taken up in the booklet: (1) Faith and its demonstration in good works, (2) the saints and their worship, (3) the giving of alms, (4) and (5) the differences in food and days, (6) the celibacy of the clergy, (7) images, (8) altars, (9) giving offense (i.e., giving up Catholic customs, such as celibacy, eating meat on Friday), (10) burial, (11) the sacraments, (12) baptism, (13) the Lord's Supper, (14) freedom of the will.—It should, however, be admitted that in skill and clarity Glait's book cannot be compared with the writings of Hubmaier.
In 1527, when a dispute broke out in Nikolsburg concerning the use of the sword (defended by Hubmaier) or the practice of absolute nonresistance (defended by Hans Hut), Glait sided with Hut. Dissatisfied with the outcome (Liechtenstein decided in favor of Hubmaier), Glait followed his fugitive friend Hut to Vienna in Austria. Here we find Glait in the Anabaptist meeting in the Kärntnerstrasse, and here it was that Glait baptized the former Franciscan friar Leonhard Schiemer, who was soon to seal his faith with a martyr's death. From now on Glait found no place of rest. Hans Schlaffer, another well-known Anabaptist martyr and former priest, had contact with him in Regensburg, Bavaria, and testified later to Glait's pious Christian life.
Very little is known about Glait's work in the following years. After Hubmaier's death he turned to Silesia where Caspar Schwenkfeld and his collaborator Crautwald had been working for the Reformation (as they understood it). Around 1530 Glait seems to have published a tract, "Concerning the Keeping of the Sabbath," of which, unfortunately, no copy has been preserved. We learn of its contents only through Schwenckfeld's refutation, dated 1 January 1532, and entitled Vom Christlichen Sabbath und Unterschaidt des alten und newen Testaments (the only print known is one of 1589, reprinted in Corpus Schwenckfeld. IV, 452-518). Apparently Glait presented the idea that an observance of the Sabbath is binding on the Christians in the new covenant just as it was on the Jews of the old, because it is enjoined in the Decalog. Since Glait and his companion Andreas Fischer promulgated this idea in the area of Liegnitz (Silesia), Crautwald, at the insistence of the Duke of Silesia, wrote a critique entitled Bericht und anzeig wie gar ohne Kunst und gutten verstand Andreas Fischer vom Sabbath geschrieben (a copy in the State Library in Berlin).
Glait tried now to work for his faith in Prussia, but an order of Duke Albrecht in 1532 brought about his expulsion also from this territory, together with his friends Oswald of Grieskirchen (an Anabaptist) and Johannes Bünderlin (formerly of Linz, a "spiritual reformer"). It is supposed that Glait now went to Falkenau in Bohemia, for we find here "Sabbatarians" as late as 1538. This Sabbatarian movement seems to have also encroached into the Nikolsburg district, for Leonhard von Liechtenstein asked both Wolfgang Capito and Caspar Schwenckfeld for an opinion in this matter (1531). Since Capito was preoccupied with other affairs, Schwenckfeld undertook the task of judging the booklet of Glait, "with whom I had once pleasant discussions at Liegnitz" (see the above noted tract by Schwenckfeld). Schwenckfeld rejected Glait's main argument for the Sabbath observance (the reference to the Decalog) because logically all the Judaic law would have to be reinstated including circumcision. "The true observers of the Sabbath are those upon whose hearts the law of the Spirit has been written by the fingers of God." In conclusion, Schwenckfeld presented a Summarium etlicher Argument wider Oswald Glaids Lehre vom Sabbath, with 18 arguments. But he emphasized that he was careful not to do any injustice to Oswald (Corp. Schw. IV, 515-518).
Later Glait must have become the leader of an Anabaptist group around the city of Jamnitz in Moravia, but no particulars are known. The Hutterite Chronicle gives only an account of his death of which the Hutterites learned through several brothers who shared Glait's fate (Zieglschmid, Chronik, 259f.): "In 1545 Brother Oswald Glait lay in prison in Vienna for the sake of his faith. The citizens came to him in his prison and asked him kindly and earnestly to renounce it, else they would have to execute him. But say what they would, they could not move him. Two brethren also came to him, Antoni Keim and Hans Staudach [Hutterite Brethren likewise in prison in Vienna for the sake of their faith, and in 1546 martyred], who comforted him. To them he commended his wife and child in Jamnitz. After he had been in prison a year and six weeks, they took him out of the city at midnight, that the people might not see and hear him, and drowned him in the Danube" (autumn of 1546).
A song by an unknown author praises Glait's death as a martyr. It begins, "Ihr Jungen und ihr Alten, nun höret das Gedicht" (Lieder, 1211). Of Glait himself two hymns are known: one found in a Hutterite manuscript book and still unpublished, "O sun Davidt, erhör mein bitt, und lass dich des erbarmen" (mentioned by Beck, Geschichts-Bücher, 161, note), and the other called "Die Zehn Gebote," which begins, "Es redet Gott mit Mose: ich bin der Herre dein," printed 1530 as a pamphlet,, reprinted once more in Magdeburg in 1563, and now also to be found in Wackernagel, Kirchenlied III, 465 f. (No. 524).
Just as Glait was honored in song after his death, so his services to the Brethren were willingly recognized during his life. Balthasar Hubmaier in his Ainfeltiger Underricht (1526) gives him the praise that he "proclaimed the light of the holy Gospel so bravely and comfortingly, the like of which I know at no other place."
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967.
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.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 117-119 (a study by Johann Loserth).
Schwenckfeld, Caspar. Corpus Schwenckfeldianorum. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Haertel, 1907-1961.
Wackernagel, Philipp. Das deutsche Kirchenlied von der ältesten Zeit bis zu An fang des XVII. Jahrhunderts, 5 vols. Leipzig, 1864-1877. Reprinted Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1964.
Wiswedel, Wilhelm. "Oswald Glait von Jamnitz." Zeitschrift für Kirchengschichte (1937): 550-564.
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. 2, pp. 522-523. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Loserth, Johann and Robert Friedmann. "Glait, Oswald (d. 1546)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 18 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/glait_oswald_d._1546.
APA style: Loserth, Johann and Robert Friedmann. (1956). Glait, Oswald (d. 1546). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/glait_oswald_d._1546.