Leonhard Dorfbrunner was one of the most successful of the evangelists of the South German Anabaptists in the Reformation period. All that is known of him is based on the statements of various persons he baptized when they were subjected to torture after his death. At his trial in 1528 he confessed that he had been ordained as a priest in Bamberg in 1524, and had received his title of imperial knight from a chapter of that order in Weissenburg in Middle Franconia. His was a gifted and notable personality.
He joined the Anabaptists in the spring of 1527; he was baptized in Styria (Upper Austria) by Hans Hut and at once named as an evangelist and sent out with three others, Jerome Hermann of Mansee, Leonhard Schiemer, and Jakob Portner, who was still the chaplain in the castle at Styria. Dorfbrunner went in the direction of Salzburg and Munich, participated in the Martyrs' Synod in Augsburg, which was led by Hans Denck, on 20 August 1527. There he was here appointed to do evangelistic work in Austria with Hänslin Mittermeier of Ingolstadt, especially in the city of Linz, where after the destruction of the Styrian church a new congregation had formed that became the center of Anabaptism in the region of the Ens. But Dorfbrunner apparently did not reach his destination; if he did, he was there only a few days. There is no mention of his work in Linz.
From the end of September he worked in Augsburg, the Anabaptist congregation there having been robbed of its leaders at the instigation of the Lutheran clergy between 25 August and 19 September 1527, when Jakob Dachser, Hans Hut, Jakob Gross, Siegmund Salminger, and many other members were arrested. Disregarding the risks, Dorfbrunner took charge of the church and very soon won new adherents, performing the first baptism before the end of September. By the end of the year he had baptized about 100 persons in Augsburg alone, the majority of whom remained true to their faith in spite of pressure by the authorities; there were among them several women who were seized at the Easter service in 1528 and cruelly mistreated, as Elisabeth Hegenmiller, whose tongue was cut out, and Anna Benedikt, whose cheeks were burned through on order of the council and who was then expelled from the city. In January 1528 Dorfbrunner apparently wished to visit the congregation at Linz; he was seized at Passau and died at the stake. Dorfbrunner must be considered one of the most successful pioneers of the Anabaptist movement in South Germany and Austria. In the very brief period of his ministry he is reported to have baptized about 3000 converts.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 469.
Nicoladoni, Alexander. Johannes Bünderlin von Linz und die oberösterreichischen Täufergemeinden in den Jahren 1525-1531. Berlin: R. Gaertner, Hermann Heyfelder, 1893: 205-207.
Roth, Friedrich. Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte. München: T. Ackermann, 1901-1911: 234-262.
Roth, Friedrich. Zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer in Oberschwaben: II. Zur Lebensgeschichte Eitelhans Langenmantels von Augsburg. Augsburg: In Kommission der J.A. Schlosserschen Buchh. (F. Schott.), 1900: 15-27.
Roth, Friedrich. Zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer in Oberschwaben: III. Der Höhepunkt der wiedertäuferischen Bewegung in Augsburg und ihr Niedergang im Jahre 1528. Augsburg: In Kommission der J.A. Schlosserschen Buchh. (F. Schott.), 1901: 7-115.
 Cite This Article
Hege, Christian. "Dorfbrunner, Leonhard (d. 1528)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 Oct 2016. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Dorfbrunner,_Leonhard_(d._1528)&oldid=120185.
Hege, Christian. (1956). Dorfbrunner, Leonhard (d. 1528). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 October 2016, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Dorfbrunner,_Leonhard_(d._1528)&oldid=120185.
©1996-2016 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.