Myth and Reality of Anabaptist, Mennonite, and Doopsgezind Women, ca 1525-1900


Editor: P. Visser
Harlot, pious martyr, marriage breaker, obedient sister, prophetess, literate woman, agent of the devil, hypocrite. These are some qualifications of the image of Anabaptist/Mennonite women, from a wide array of perspectives. Over the ages they became both negative and positive stereotypes, created by either opponents or sympathizers, as a means of demonizing or promoting the dissident, radical free church movement. This volume explores the characteristics, backgrounds and effects of the collective perceptions of Anabaptist/Mennonite women, as well as their self-understanding, from the sixteenth into the nineteenth centuries, in a variety of case studies. This is not a gender study in the traditional sense. The theory of imagology sets the stage for the interpretation of the image of the European Mennonite sisters, acting within their religious, moral, cultural and social landscapes of Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and the Ukraine (tsarist Russia).
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Biographical Note

Mirjam van Veen is professor of Church History at VU University Amsterdam, specialising in the 16th century. She received her PhD in 2001, for which she researched polemics in the writings of Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert and Johannes Calvijn. She has also published widely on David Joris, Sebastian Castellio and the history of Dutch tolerance.

Piet Visser received his PhD in 1988 and is professor emeritus of Anabaptist and Doopsgezind History at the Doopsgezind Seminary and VU University Amsterdam. He mainly publishes on the history of Dutch Anabaptism/Mennonitism and its relevance for the Dutch society and culture.

Gary K. Waite received his PhD in 1987 from the University of Waterloo and is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada. He publishes on various aspects of early modern religious culture and beliefs, including Dutch Anabaptism, the witch-hunts, and interaction among Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Review Quotes

"In sum, the articles bring well forth the significance of historical, textual, and geographical context by painting a multifaceted picture of Anabaptist women. The book proves that despite the efforts to create sweeping representations of femininity, not only the practical situations but also the images themselves have been changing and ambiguous in early modern and modern Europe." Sini Mikkola, in: Révue d'Histoire Ecclésiastique Vol 112.1-2 (2017)

"In many ways this volume provides a fresh approach to research in this field, especially when charting the longer history of Anabaptist women. These studies underscore the multivalent images among Anabaptist, Mennonite, and Doopsgezind women as victims of undesirable stereotypes, but also as authors of their own reality. Significantly, this scholarship also reveals opportunities for further research in deconstructing the myths and realities of Anabaptist men." Adam Bonikowski, University of Arizona, in: Sixteenth Century Journal Vol. 47.3 (2016).

"The object of this new publication is to examine not only the role of women in the various stages of the Anabaptist movement but above all what the editors call ‘imagology,’ a neologism for the formation of images through the ages." Alastair Hamilton, in: Church History and Religious Culture, Vol. 95 (2015).

Table of contents

Contributors include: Mirjam de Baar, Martina Bick, Marian Blok, Michael Driedger, Nicole Grochowina, Linda A. Huebert Hecht, Mark Jantzen, Marcel Kremer, Marion Kobelt-Groch, Lucinda Martin, Mary S. Sprunger, John Staples, Mirjam van Veen, Piet Visser, Anna Voolstra, and Gary K. Waite


All those interested in the history of Protestant religious cultures, the history of ethnic and/or religious minorities, the history of the Radical Reformation, including Anabaptists, Mennonites and Doopsgezinden, as well as theologians, art historians, literary historians, gender historians and imagologists.


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