Hans Knevel (d. 1573)
|Interrogation of Hans Knevel, Antwerp,
1572. Engraving by Jan Luiken in Martyrs
Mirror, v. 2, p. 623 of Dutch
edition. Scan provided by
Mennonite Library and Archives
Hans Knevel, an Anabaptist martyr, a tailor's apprentice of Antwerp, was burned at the stake there in 1573. He had at first fled to Hamburg with his friend Steven Jansz Dilburgh, when he became aware of immediate danger, but returned to Antwerp and was soon seized. At his cross-examination he defended himself and his faith with unusual adroitness. For three days he was taken to a priest to be convinced "of his dangerous error." Hans Knevel answered with a superior knowledge of Scripture. When he asked the priest why he had come, the priest replied, "To win your soul." "Then he told him, if he sought to win souls, to go around in the city, in the brothels, the tippling houses, tennis courts, and to those who shed so much innocent blood, and to seek to win their souls. His own soul Christ had already won." When he was accused with insubordination to the government, he replied, "We will gladly obey the authorities in all taxes, customs, and excises; yea, we should be sorry, if we should withhold one stiver of what is their due." When his faith was likened to that of the Münsterites he said "his faith was as different from the Münsterite sect as heaven is from the earth."
Van Braght's account concludes, "This account we have chiefly taken from Hans Knevel's own letter, which he wrote at Antwerp from prison to his dear brother Steven Jansz Dilburgh and his wife Leentjen at Hamburg, in which he communicates at length the firm foundation of his faith and living hope in God's grace and blessed promises." Van Braght mentions 1572 as the year of his death, but according to P. Génard, who studied the documents, no Anabaptist martyr was put to death at Antwerp in 1572. But Genard found a large number of victims put to death in 1573 who are not found in the Martyrs' Mirror. Hans Knevel may be identical either with Hans der Weduwe or Hans van Munstdorp (Manstrop), both burned at the stake on 17 February 1573.
Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde 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, 621.
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: 945. Available online at:.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 514.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 650. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Hans Knevel (d. 1573)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/hans_knevel_d._1573.
APA style: van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1956). Hans Knevel (d. 1573). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/hans_knevel_d._1573.