Zaunring, Georg (d. 1531/38)

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Georg (Jörg or Juriaen) Zaunring (Martyrs' Mirror, Zaunringerad; Loserth, Zaunried) (d.1531 or 1538), an early Tyrolean Anabaptist and co-worker with Jakob Hutter. He was born supposedly in Rattenberg, and seems to have joined the Anabaptists at an early age. In 1528 he was actively working and baptizing both north and south of Bozen (Bolzano), in the center of the Adige Valley. In the remote villages of the Ritten Mountains he was fairly successful and became the treasurer (Säckelmeister) of the group. It must have been here that he met Hutter, who was likewise working for the Anabaptist cause along the Puster, Adige, and Eisack valleys (see Tyrol). Because of severe persecution, Hutter sent a large contingent of these newly converted brethren to Moravia, the "promised land," under the leadership of Zaunring, their preacher (Diener des Worts). In 1529 they arrived at Austerlitz, where they gladly joined the brotherhood shepherded by Jakob Wideman.

Unfortunately conflicts soon arose (see Reublin), and in 1530 the brotherhood split into two groups (Völklein): the Southwest Germans remained with Wideman and were henceforth known as the Austerlitz Brethren, while the Tyroleans went to Auspitz, then an estate of the Abbess of Maria Saal (near Brno), where they began another Bruderhof with a total of 150 baptized persons supervised at first by both Zaunring and Reublin. The establishment of unconditional and full community of goods was, of course, new and by no means an easy affair. In that very first year (1530) it was discovered that Reublin had withheld a sum of money (which he had brought to Moravia) for emergencies (which act occurred more than once later on; see, e.g., Schützinger). Thereupon Reublin was expelled from the Auspitz group as a "false Ananias." This act received the approval of Hutter, who had come to Moravia in 1530 to look after the brotherhoods, their discipline, and their pastoral care. From now on Zaunring was the only preacher of the Auspitz group, which was growing steadily by the arrival of newcomers from Tyrol.

But the peace was short-lived. The Hutterite chronicle tells the events of 1531 in great detail: Zaunring's wife had committed adultery with a certain brother Thomas Lindl, and of course that involved a delicate situation for the preacher. For a while he practiced "marital avoidance," but eventually he forgave his wife and took her back. For this reason the brotherhood excommunicated him, thus depriving themselves of their only spiritual leader. At their invitation, Hutter came from Tyrol with his new coworker Sigmund Schützinger and restored order and discipline, making Schützinger the new Vorsteher. Soon thereafter Zaunring repented before the entire brotherhood and was accepted back into full membership. But not long afterward the Brethren sent him as a missioner into South Germany, in particular to Franconia. Here, in the bishopric of Bamberg, he was caught by the authorities and soon thereafter beheaded, thus becoming a martyr for his faith. The date is either 1531 or 1538.

We have from Zaunring's hand two writings: (1) a brief but very fine, typically Anabaptist tract, Eine kurze Anzeigung des Abendmahles Christi, also called Ein Gespräch vom Abendmahl Christi, ein Dialog zwischen der Welt und einem Christen (published by Lydia Müller, Glaubenszeugnisse I: 144-148), and (2) Eine schöne Epistel an die Heiligen Gottes: "Wem Christus verheissen wird." This contains Zaunring's motto: "In Gottes Lieb sollst für dich gan/ In Glauben keinen Zweifel han/ In Hoffnung auch nit abelan/ Vor deinem Gott in Demut stan" (Beck: 40 n).


Beck, Josef. Die Geschichts-Bücher der Wiedertäufer in OesterreichUngarn. Vienna, 1883; reprinted Nieuwkoop: De Graaf, 1967: 39 ff.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doops-gesinde 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, S 3.

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: 440. Available online at:  

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

Loserth, Johann. Der Anabaptismus in Tirol. Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1892.

Müller, Lydia. Glaubenszeugnisse I (Leipzig, 1938): 143 ff.

Zieglschmid, A. J. F. Die älteste Chronik der Hutterischen Brüder: Ein Sprachdenkmal aus frühneuhochdeutscher Zeit. Ithaca: Cayuga Press, 1943.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Date Published 1959

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Friedmann, Robert. "Zaunring, Georg (d. 1531/38)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 Mar 2019.,_Georg_(d._1531/38)&oldid=146769.

APA style

Friedmann, Robert. (1959). Zaunring, Georg (d. 1531/38). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 March 2019, from,_Georg_(d._1531/38)&oldid=146769.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1018-1019. All rights reserved.

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