Hagen, Karl Heinrich Wilhelm (1810-1868)

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Karl Hagen (born 10 October 1810, died 24 January 1868), was a renowned German historian. He was the son of a local minister, and at his death was a professor at the University of Bern, Switzerland. As a private lecturer in the University of Heidelberg he wrote a historical work in three volumes, Deutschlands literarische und religiöse Verhältnisse im Reformationszeitalter (Erlangen, 1841-1844). The last volume deals with the Anabaptist movement; in the second volume Hubmaier is briefly mentioned in the discussion of liberty of conscience. In the introduction to the third volume the author says, "My chief object in this third volume was to demonstrate how the Protestant Church, through limitation of new doctrines, through intolerance, charges of heresy, etc., departed from the principles of the Reformation as early as the third decade of the 16th century, and that they could therefore later on scarcely claim the name Reformation or at least only in a few connections, and that on the other hand the concepts of the Reformation were represented by the heretical sects and parties, which at that time stood in the same relationship to the orthodox Protestant party as at present that of the more liberal religious wing to Pietism and to the general reigning religious view. Those heretical sects have hitherto been far too little considered, in respect to their influence on public opinion, either by their views or by their practical effectiveness. Recently, to be sure, attention has been called to them, as for example by Ranke in the third volume of his German history."

Thus Hagen discusses the Anabaptists from the liberal point of view with amazing historical fidelity. His presentation is based on special study of sources, which at that time occurred rarely or never. It has been superseded by more recent investigation. His evaluation of the Anabaptist movement in its one-sided liberal viewpoint is also corrected to a degree thereby. But as the first liberal presentation of Anabaptism, breaking with the traditional historiography and seeking to do justice to the movement, it has value alongside of the presentation by Max Goebel, which came out a few years later from the orthodox point of view and gave a quite true historical account.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 231.

Author(s) Christian Neff
Date Published 1956

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MLA style

Neff, Christian. "Hagen, Karl Heinrich Wilhelm (1810-1868)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 22 Feb 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hagen,_Karl_Heinrich_Wilhelm_(1810-1868)&oldid=145373.

APA style

Neff, Christian. (1956). Hagen, Karl Heinrich Wilhelm (1810-1868). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 February 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hagen,_Karl_Heinrich_Wilhelm_(1810-1868)&oldid=145373.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 626-627. All rights reserved.

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