Jan van Geelen (d. 1535)
Jan van Geelen (Jan van Geel, Johan van Geyl, Hansken van Gelen, once called Hansken Lukener), a partisan of Jan van Leyden, a former soldier, a resident of Deventer, went from there to Münster early in 1534 and became the doorman of Queen Divara. On 24 December 1534, he left the city with three companions, equipped with money and a thousand copies of Rothmann's Van der Wraecke (revenge) for distribution. In the Netherlands he propagandized for the cause of the Münsterite kingdom and everywhere handed out money for the purchase of arms. He was sent to the Netherlands by Jan van Leyden specifically to create revolution there in order to detract attention from Münster. Early in January 1535 he came to Amsterdam. Here the "banner of justice" was to fly, i.e., the signal for revolution given. But among the Anabaptists he met resistance. Their bishop, Jacob van Campen, would not be persuaded. Also the conference at Spaarndam, where 32 Anabaptist preachers met in the middle of December 1534 or early in January 1535, rejected his plans. At the end of January 1535 he was in Antwerp, Belgium, where he had a number of adherents; then he became active in the Dutch provinces of Friesland, Groningen, and Utrecht, where he succeeded in stirring up sedition (Olde Klooster near Bolsward, Warfum, and in the territory of IJsselstein). At Amsterdam he even contacted Pieter van Montfoort, a young priest, who was the ambassador of the Spanish government of Brussels (April 1535), and through deceit and cunning he obtained safe conduct from him to continue his criminal activity. He sent word to his wife Fenneken at Deventer that unless she had herself baptized he would disown her. She complied, and on April 17 suffered a martyr's death by drowning in the IJssel. Van Geelens efforts to create revolution throughout the Netherlands had but small success. He was partially successful in Friesland, where the Oldeklooster was taken by a band of revolutionaries, but in Groningen at Warfum a similar attempt failed. In South Holland, where van Geelen had a number of followers, especially in the small town of Benschop plans were continued to attack Woerden, Oudewater, and Leiden, but both because of lack of organization and insufficient numbers these grand revolutionary plans completely failed. He planned a major attack on Amsterdam, secretly calling the Anabaptists from everywhere in the Netherlands. But most of the Anabaptists were not revolution-minded, and stayed at home. Van Geelen, in bitter disappointment, nevertheless pressed the attack. On the night of 10 May 1535, followed only by 32 men, he assaulted the city hall of Amsterdam. Jan van Geelen himself was killed in the storm of the city hall, and the survivors were all executed.
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Cornelius, C. A. Die Niederländischen Wiedertäufer während der Belagerung Münsters 1534 bis 1535. Leipzig, 1869.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1875): 63; (1899): 1-19; (1919): 5, 9.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 41.
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, No.96.
Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932, passim, see Index.
Mellink, Albert F. De Wederdopers in de noordelijke Nederlanden 1531-1544. Groningen: J.B. Wolters, 1954: passim, see Index.
Verhooren en Vonissen der Wederdoopers, betrokken bij de aanslagen op Amsterdam in 1534 en 1535, in Bijdragen en Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap, vol. XLI. Amsterdam, 1920, 15-21, 59-64.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 74. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Jan van Geelen (d. 1535)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jan_van_geelen_d.1535.
APA style: Neff, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1957). Jan van Geelen (d. 1535). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jan_van_geelen_d.1535.