Maeyken had been arrested in April 1573. She was imprisoned in the Steen castle of Antwerp, where her husband and her children sometimes visited her; they also wrote some letters. One of these letters, written by her husband, has been preserved, and is now found in the [[Amsterdam Mennonite Library (Bibliotheek en Archief van de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente te Amsterdam)|Amsterdam Mennonite archives]]. This rare piece is the more precious, because on the back of the paper is written Maeyken's farewell letter of 5 October to her children, the only existing autograph letter of a martyr.
Maeyken was executed on the morning of 6 October, with a tongue screw to prevent her from addressing the crowd as martyrs often did. Her son Adriaen watched the execution, but when his mother was tied up to the stake he fainted. When he regained consciousness he looked for the tongue screw in the ashes where his mother had been burned, and took it as a memento of his mother.
There has been some question on the identity of this martyr. Since Génard did not find her name in the records of Antwerp, the Bibliographie even suggests that she may never have existed, the account in the martyrbooks being merely a fantasy. But this is not the case. It has been clearly shown, as the Bibliographie reluctantly admits, by Samuel Cramer (Doopsgezinde Bijdragen 1904, 127 f.) that Maeyken, the wife of the mason Mattheus Wens, being a native of Dissenbeke in Flanders, was in the official Antwerp records called Maeyken van Dissenbeke and in the martyrbooks Maeykens Wens. In 1566 about 50 persons of Antwerp, suspected of Anabaptism, were summoned to answer to the magistrates for their heresy; among them were besides Janne de Weese (i.e., the preacher Jan de Metser, to whom Maeyken wrote her letter in prison) also "Mattheus Wens, mason, and Maeyken his wife," having been living "in den oudenaertschen ganck" (Oudenaerde lane). They did not appear to answer, apparently because they had fled from the city. They later must have returned.
The autograph letter by Maeyken was acquired by the Amsterdam Mennonite archives in 1902 at a public auction.
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: Part II, 661-664.
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. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 979 f. Available online at: http://www.homecomers.org/mirror/index.htm.
Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1898): 114; (1899): 104, 108, 121; (1904): 115-133.
Génard, Petrus. Antwerpsch archievenblad: IX, 291, 294; XIII, 130 f., 179 f.; XIV, 92 I., No. 1040.
Haeghen, Ferdinand van der., Thomas Arnold and R. Vanden Berghe. Bibliographie des Martyrologes Protestants Néerlandais. II. Receuils. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1890: v. II, No. 841.
|Author(s)||Nanne van der Zijpp|
Cite This Article
van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Maeyken Wens (d. 1573)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 3 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Maeyken_Wens_(d._1573)&oldid=89235.
van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1957). Maeyken Wens (d. 1573). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 3 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Maeyken_Wens_(d._1573)&oldid=89235.
Herald Press website.
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