Lille (Nord-Pas de Calais, France)

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Lille (Ryssel in Flemish), is a city (population 179,778 in 1954; 226,800 in 2005) of France. In the 16th century it belonged to Flanders. At least 17 Calvinists and 16 Anabaptists died here as martyrs. A surgeon of Lille was drowned in the Moselle at Metz in 1538.

In 1563 a large number of Anabaptists were arrested, of whom at least 13 suffered a martyr's death, including Jan de Swarte of Nijpkerken (Nieppe) with his wife Klaesken and four sons, Klaes, Christiaen, Hans, and Mathieu. Jan was a deacon and preacher. He practiced his weaver's trade at various localities in Flanders, finally at Halewijn (Halluin). In his house Perceval van den Berge of Swevegem and Jan Maes of Hondschooten were caught. Through betrayal by the pastor of Halluin, N. van den Kasteelen, the inquisitor Pieter Titelman van Ronse, accompanied by many policemen from Lille, took them prisoner in addition to Pieter Schoenmaker and his wife Jacomijntje (who, however, recanted), Hendrik Aerts, a hatmaker, his wife Janneken Cabeljaus, and a sister Calleken Steens, married to a brother Augustijn, who was not captured. The two younger sons of Jan de Swarte could have escaped, but they refused to forsake their parents. Several brethren tried to comfort the prisoners by shouting to them; Jan lay in a hole called "paradise." One of them, Herman, was caught and imprisoned. These 13 were burned in three groups.

In 1567 five wealthy merchants of Lille were seized at Antwerp. The wealthiest was Christiaen Jansens Langedul. They were caught at a meeting. Several managed to escape when Christiaen began a conversation in French with the captain. His wife was Mayken Raets, perhaps a sister of the mathematician Wilhelm Raets at Maastricht. His letters record his terrible tortures and his disputes with a "thin little Jesuit." He was burned on 15 September 1567, with Cornelis Claes, Mattheeuws de Vick, and the preacher Hans Symons, who was one of the delegates sent to smooth over the friction in Friesland in 1556 (Vos, 52 f.).

In 1570 Maerten Karettier of Bousbecque was put to death. In 1571 Adriaen Jans Hoedemaker and Jelis de Backer died at the stake. Frossard mentions 1556 as the first year in which Anabaptist martyrs were executed at Lille, but their names have not been transmitted. The total number of martyrs who died at Lille is 95, 31 of whom are found in the martyrbooks.


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: II, passim, see Index.

Frossard, Charles Louis. L’Église sous la croix pendant la domination espagnole: chronique de l’église réformée de Lille. Paris, 1857: Ch. I.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 655 f.

Vos, Karel.  "De Doopsgezinden te Antwerpen in de Zestiende Eeuw." Bulletin de la Commission Royale de Belgique 84 (1920): 52 f.

Author(s) Karel Vos
Date Published 1957

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MLA style

Vos, Karel. "Lille (Nord-Pas de Calais, France)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 6 Jul 2020.,_France)&oldid=145723.

APA style

Vos, Karel. (1957). Lille (Nord-Pas de Calais, France). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 July 2020, from,_France)&oldid=145723.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 345-346. All rights reserved.

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