Niclaes, Hendrik (1502-1580)

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Engraving from Apocalypsis, or The revelation of certain notorious advancers of heresie. London, 1655. Scan provided  by the [ Mennonite Archives of Ontario].

Hendrik (Heinrich) Niclaes was the founder of the Familists or the "House of Love," also called Nicolaites. He was a native of Münster, Westphalia, Germany. He had visions as a boy, entered a Latin school at the age of nine, but three years later worked in his father's business until he married and took over a business of his own. At the age of 27 he was arrested on a suspicion of Lutheran beliefs, and then moved to Amsterdam. Here he was arrested on a suspicion of being a "Münsterite." After his release he stayed nine years longer in Amsterdam. At the age of 39, while he was living in Emden, East Friesland, where he owned a thriving business, he had prophetic visions and gathered a following. When he was 59 he was again imprisoned and tried on the rack. He escaped to Kampen, Dutch province of Overijssel, and from there to London and Cologne. He was a prolific writer. Nippold names 51 titles from his pen, which deal with a mystical pantheism.The disloyalty of some friends embittered the last years of his life. With David Joris he carried on a brief literary dispute. Other Anabaptist connections cannot be claimed, as some older histories erroneously assert. In Holland he had few adherents. Only in Dordrecht was there a group of followers until about 1614. Among his most influential followers was Christoffel Plantijn (1520-1589), noted printer at Antwerp.


Cramer, Samuel and Fredrik Pijper. Bibliotheca Reformatoria Neerlandica. 10 v. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1903-1914: VII, passim, see Index.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 224.

Kühler, Wilhelmus Johannes. Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Doopsgezinden in de Zestiende Eeuw. Haarlem: H.D. Tjeenk Willink, 1932: 387-394.

Lindeboom, J. Stiefkinderen van het Christendom. The Hague, 1929: 201-209.

Nippold, F. "Heinrich Niclaes und das Haus der Liebe." Zeitschrift für die historische Theologie 3-4 (1862).

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1957

Cite This Article

MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Niclaes, Hendrik (1502-1580)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 20 Jun 2018.,_Hendrik_(1502-1580)&oldid=93094.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1957). Niclaes, Hendrik (1502-1580). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 June 2018, from,_Hendrik_(1502-1580)&oldid=93094.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 871. All rights reserved.

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