Liebich, Jörg (16th century)
Jörg (Georg) Liebich (Lübich, Liebig) was one of the group of Anabaptists in Tyrol, Austria, who caused the government at Innsbruck great difficulties. Some strange stories are recorded about him. Liebich was sent by the brotherhood in Moravia to Tyrol in 1538. Captured in the Inn Valley, he was put into the Vellenburg (near Innsbruck) "into a bad tower." Hans Mandl, who was imprisoned there in 1560, describes it thus: "It is very deep. I have heard of six fathoms. But it has a little window at the top, and the sun shines in awhile, so that it is light. The tower is of course full of vermin. The bats fly about the prisoner with a rustle, and the mice eat his food."
It seems the prisoner suffered hallucinations. Liebich thought he was being tempted by the devil. Some of the current stories of his hallucinations were collected in Ein kurze History, was sich verlaufen mit unserem lieben Bruder Georg Liebich in seiner Gefängnis, The fiend tempted him in various forms, as a virgin, or as a youth, or perhaps as an armed soldier, and told Liebich all kinds of tales of happenings in the brotherhood, and the evil committed by one or the other. When he was not successful in turning the prisoner's mind he flew out, leaving a stupefying stench behind. And since the devil had not been successful he sent his assistants.
One of these was Dr. Weber, the pseudonym of the noted Dr. Gallus Müller, to whom the government had assigned the task of converting the Anabaptist prisoners. Müller also related to Liebich that the brotherhood in Moravia was dispersed, so that no brother knew where another was. In this Liebich recognized the tempter, accused him of deception, and rejected him with earnest reproof. To complete the temptation the "children of Satan" chained a beautiful maiden named Ursula Hellrigl to his foot. What the devil would have liked to see is easily imagined, say the chronicles. But the prisoner did not fall.
Liebich's trial brought the judges a reproof from the king. After Liebich had been in prison for two years without being affected by Müller's persuasion, the authorities asked King Ferdinand whether the prisoner should not be sent to the galleys of Andrea Doria. The king gave his consent; but because of the expense of transporting a single prisoner, he was not sent.
After two more years Liebich was placed before the jurors. The judges of the district of Sonnenburg realized that Liebich should be expelled from the country. He was, to be sure, an Anabaptist, but neither a backslider nor a preacher, had misled only a few, and had furthermore been converted. To their inquiry as to what further steps should be taken, the king replied that they should send Liebich to Vienna to be taken to the galleys to fight against the infidels.
But Liebich stayed in the Vellenburg until 24 April 1544, when he was banished. "Liebich made several songs in prison, which the brotherhood still has and sings," say the chronicles. Beck comments that they cannot be found under his name; but the above account of his imprisonment is found in Codex 234 of the Pressburg cathedral chapter.
Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in Oesterreich-Ungarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 155-157.
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: II, 64 (where he is called Juriaen Libich, his prison Filleburg, and the year of his imprisonment is given as 1544).
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: 466. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951. Available online at: http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/index.htm.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 649 f.
Loserth, Johann. Der Anabaptismus in Tirol. Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1892: 53 f.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 337. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Loserth, Johann. "Liebich, Jörg (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/liebich_jorg_16th_century.
APA style: Loserth, Johann. (1957). Liebich, Jörg (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/liebich_jorg_16th_century.