Hottinger, Hans (16th century)

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Hans Hottinger was the night watchman of Zollikon in the canton of Zürich, and at the beginning of the Anabaptist movement allied himself with it. The court records name several persons of the widely ramified Hottinger family, who joined the Swiss Brethren. As a zealous advocate of church reform Hans Hottinger participated in the storming of the images in the church at Zollikon. Because of this act he had to defend himself before the court in December 1523.

After it had come to a break between Zwingli and some of the Brethren and they began to practice adult baptism, many inhabitants of Zollikon were baptized, Hottinger among them. Soon the government took steps to suppress the movement. Twenty-four Anabaptists were imprisoned in the Augustinian monastery until they were tried on 7 February 1525. Hans, Jakob, and Conrad Hottinger and several companions stated that they had been baptized and were "servants obedient to God"; they wanted to do what God's Spirit directed them to do, and not allow any temporal power to force them from it. Where the Word of God did not interfere, they would be obedient to my lords.— They were then dismissed upon Urfehde and payment of costs and security of 1,000 guilders. They were also to be warned and rebuked for having done wrong and having acted "against God and against their neighbor with offense."

About this time a conference was held between Zwingli and the Anabaptists. Soon afterward, when the Brethren were conversing about the course of the proceedings, Hans Hottinger said Zwingli had asserted that there is no instance in the Bible that anyone had been baptized twice. But when the Brethren showed him the passage (Acts 19), he admitted it; indeed he had been partly convinced and would accept for himself "this godly life." When Hans Asper defended Zwingli and expressed his pleasure with Zwingli's sermons, Hottinger remarked, "I do not know why I should be happy. Today he preaches one thing, and tomorrow he retracts it. Years ago he preached that little children should not be baptized, but now he says they should be baptized. And when he says God has commanded that children be baptized, he lies like a rogue and a heretic." For this statement Hottinger was brought to trial on 25 February. He was released on promise to do better, but dismissed from his position as watchman.

In the following month (March) we find Hans Hottinger as a defendant in the great Anabaptist trial. With Manz and Blaurock, who had not been convinced of wrongdoing, he does not want to be considered in the wrong either. No one had instructed him "but Christ and His teaching, which is the true Word of God." He did not know whether he had been baptized as an infant, and had therefore let himself be baptized. At the close of the discussions, which lasted several days, Hottinger is said to have stated that he was satisfied with Zwingli's teaching and promised to be obedient to "my lords." It seems that he kept this promise and gave the authorities no trouble for several months.

When at the turn of the year 1525-1526 Balthasar Hubmaier appeared in Zürich, he soon made his influence felt. In the court proceedings in the trial of Hubmaier in January 1526, Heini Aberli stated that the watchman Hottinger had received Hubmaier in his house. Then he related how the two (Aberli and Hottinger) had journeyed to Waldshut, and at a well Hottinger had said to him, "Who has anything against my being baptized?" Aberli then asked him whether he "believed in his heart." Hottinger answered affirmatively and fell on his knees, and asked him "with weeping eyes through God's will" to baptize him. He did so. From that date some of Hubmaier's influence may have remained with Hottinger, whose acquaintance he had made in Waldshut. When Hubmaier appeared in Zürich, Hottinger was one of the courageous advocates of believers' baptism. He was also among those sentenced on 7 March 1526, to imprisonment in the tower on bread and water, and beds of straw. In a book Hubmaier wrote against Zwingli, Ein Gesprech Balthasar Hubmörs von Friedberg auf Mayster Ulrichs Zwinglens Taufbüchlein, he describes the awful conditions of the imprisonment and names several of the prisoners, among them "Hansen Hottinger." On 21 March, two weeks after the sentence, Hottinger is said to have returned again to the established church. Did he perhaps immigrate to Moravia? Loserth (Communismus, 42) mentions a Hans Hottinger of Brinelsdorf near Zürich, who lived at Scheidewitz in Moravia.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff.  Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 349.

Loserth, Johann. "Der Communismus der mährischen Wiedertäufer im 16. and 17. Jahrhundert: Beiträge zu ihrer Lehre, Geschichte and Verfassung." Archiv für österreichische Geschichte 81, 1 (1895).

Muralt, Leonhard von and Walter Schmid. Quellen zur Geschichte der Täufer in der Schweiz. Erster Band Zürich. Zürich: S. Hirzel, 1952.

Author(s) Samuel Geiser
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Geiser, Samuel. "Hottinger, Hans (16th century)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 26 Apr 2018.,_Hans_(16th_century)&oldid=146492.

APA style

Geiser, Samuel. (1956). Hottinger, Hans (16th century). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 April 2018, from,_Hans_(16th_century)&oldid=146492.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 819-820. All rights reserved.

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