Penzenauer, Hans (d. 1528)
Hans Penzenauer, an Anabaptist martyr, a goldsmith of Steyr, Austria. Together with the knifesmith Matthäus Pürchinger, the scissors grinder Hans Schützenecker, the brushmaker Leonhard Alexberger, Sigmund Peutler, the woolcarder Hans Muhr, the blacksmith Paul Hertlmayr, the bowmaker Michael Gruber, and the cobbler Hans Heher, he was imprisoned in the summer of 1527 by the magistrate of Steyr as an Anabaptist. The cross-examination revealed that they had been confirmed in their belief by the sermons of Hans Hut. Ferdinand I, to whom the magistrate had reported the affair, ordered on 10 September 1527, that the prisoners be dealt with in accord with the law and pardoned only if they recanted.
In November Wolfgang Künigl, the prosecutor, arrived in Steyr, and the trial was begun. Künigl advised against too severe a penalty for those willing to recant. But Ferdinand wanted the penalty of Horb applied against the penitent; the council in its report of 15 November 1527, objected to this penalty as being too severe, pointing out that six of the prisoners showed signs of penitence. The suggestion of the council was disregarded. On 20 November the king appointed a representative from each of the other six cities in his domain to sit in on the sentencing of the obstinate. The course of the trial has been described in detail in the annals of Steyr written by Preuenhueber. The accused were charged with disregarding the Roman sacrament, heresy, gathering mobs, preaching in corners, and performing baptism.
The examinations, in which the Anabaptists defended their position well with references from the Bible, lasted three days. The prisoners declared themselves willing to stop holding meetings. Künigl replied that this would not be sufficient, and that they must also desist from their Anabaptist views. This they refused to do. In deciding upon the sentence, the minority advocated two months of indoctrination by competent clergymen; the majority, however, out of "human pity," decided upon death by the sword and the burning of the corpses in place of death by fire as the law required.
Ferdinand's decision of 21 March 1528, reproached them for permitting a difference of opinion to arise in judging "so gruesome, damnable, and unheard-of a sect," and ordered death by the sword and the burning of the bodies. On 28 February, the condemned men were again tried on the rack, but even torture could not deflect them from their faith. On 30 March the six named at the beginning were executed; in May Heher and five other Anabaptists were beheaded, Schützenecker's wife was drowned, and a number of Anabaptists expelled from Steyr.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 347 f.
Nicoladoni, Alexander. Johannes Bünderlin von Lira und die oberösterreichischen Täufergemeinden. Berlin, 1893.
Preuenhueber, Valentin. Annates Styrenses. Nürnberg, 1740.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 145. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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