Mennonites and Violence in Early Modern Amsterdam

in Church History and Religious Culture
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Although Dutch Mennonites penned official positions against bearing the sword, little is known about how Mennonites negotiated the violence that permeated daily life in early modern Dutch society. This article examines Mennonite attitudes towards collective and interpersonal violence by studying the disciplinary practices of three Amsterdam congregations from 1612–1745. It contrasts the elders’ discipline of their elite members with their occasional forbearance towards poorer men and women. It argues that the leaders took a firmer position against those who signed up in the military than they did against members who committed violent interpersonal acts. Finally, it examines cases when Mennonites turned to the force of secular magistrates for justice. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the article concludes, Mennonite churches rarely punished violent offenses, suggesting that their members had internalized both the official position of the church and the broader rejection of violence by Dutch society.

Mennonites and Violence in Early Modern Amsterdam

in Church History and Religious Culture

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References

  • 3

    Pieter Spierenburg“Protestant Attitudes to Violence: The Early Dutch Republic,” Crime Histoire & Sociétés / Crime History & Societies 10 (January 2007) 5–31 there 15–16.

  • 4

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    Manon van der Heijden“Punishment versus Reconciliation: Marriage Control in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Holland,” in Social Control in Europe Volume 1 1500–1800ed. Herman Roodenburg and Pieter Spierenburg (Columbus 2004) 55–77 there 69–71.

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    Pieter Spierenburg“Knife Fighting and Popular Codes of Honor in Early Modern Amsterdam,” in Men and Violence: Gender Honor and Rituals in Modern Europe and Americaed. Pieter Spierenburg ([Columbus] 1998) 103–127.

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  • 50

    From 1700there were 117 discipline cases recorded in the Lam and Toren congregation and 70 cases in the Zon mostly for drunkenness and bankruptcy. From 1742 until 1800 there were only a handful of cases recorded in both churches.

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    Anna Voolstra“Membership Required? The Twofold Practice of Believer’s Baptism within the Amsterdam Mennonite Lamist and Zonist Congregations during the 17th and 18th Centuries,” in Religious Minorities and Cultural Diversity (see above n. 51) 171–191 there 190–191.

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