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The Tailor-King: The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Muenster

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  102 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
He was only a Dutch tailor's apprentice, but from 1534 to 1535, Jan van Leyden led a radical sect of persecuted Anabaptists to repeated triumphs over the combined powers of church and state. Revered by his followers as the new David, the charismatic young leader pronounced the northern German city of Muenster a new Zion and crowned himself king. He expropriated all private ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 9th 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published September 1st 1999)
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Clif Hostetler
May 25, 2015 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Read this back in the year 2000. Thanks to this post from the Marginal Mennonite Society I gained access to the following excerpt. The following is excerpted from The Tailor-King: The Rise & Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster by Anthony Arthur (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), pp. 78-82.

“As Jan van Leyden’s grip on the city of Munster tightened, Bishop von Waldeck’s army prepared for its first assault. In March his military engineers had recommended draining the outer moat to allow the stor
...more
Elizabeth Elleyouende
Mar 13, 2017 Elizabeth Elleyouende rated it it was amazing
A fantastic, well-written, concise history of one of the most fascinating moments in Radical Reformation history. It's just such a bizarre story - it all played out as a Bela Tarr movie in my head.
Erin Piorier
Feb 11, 2014 Erin Piorier rated it really liked it
(3 stars for writing, but 5 stars for compelling, real-life weird bit of history)

It's the reformation and religious and social tumult is rolling across Europe. As if those Lutherans weren't crazy enough, along come the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists don't believe in infant baptism. They also have a millenarian streak. They are persecuted throughout Europe. In the walled city-state of Muenster, in present day Germany, Anabaptist ideas have taken hold among some of the population. Anabaptists live a
...more
Ben
Apr 11, 2015 Ben rated it it was amazing
The Rise and fall of the Anabaptist kingdom of Munster is a surprisingly little known historical incident, surprising because it is such an extraordinary story. The tale of 'King Jan' and his nearly two year occupation of Munster (The 'Kingdom of God) has been cited as an historical example of a successful medieval proto-communist popular uprising, but it really shouldn't be. Anthony Arthur's excellent book paints it as horrific tragedy tempered occasionally with high farce. It is the classic ta ...more
Daniel
Feb 13, 2014 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 2.5/5. Arthur takes an exciting episode of Reformation history and makes it feel mundane. A few of the chapters really sizzle, but for the most part reading this book felt like a chore, and I literally fell asleep while reading it at one point. I think the reason that the book doesn't fulfill its potential is that Arthur doesn't do a good enough job of putting the Muensterites into their larger Anabaptist and Reformation contexts (he is not a Reformation historian). He tries to make th ...more
Paul
Oct 22, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Arthur has complied a riveting account of the often brutal and always bizarre events surrounding the Anabaptist Kingdom of Munster. The author does a masterful job introducing us to the extraordinary cast of characters, portraying them in remarkable detail despite their being nearly five centuries removed. Arthur is a first rate story teller who clearly knows his subject and we are the beneficiaries.
Evan
Sep 01, 2015 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book detailing the life of the Anabaptists around Munster in the 1530's. Talks about how the Anabaptist extremists took control of the city and the siege that held them in ultimately resulting in their demise. The amount of cruelty, by today's standards, is mind blowing. A fascinating read on how a simple intellectual contagion can cause so much destruction.
Mike Stuchbery
Mar 24, 2014 Mike Stuchbery rated it it was amazing
In the early sixteenth century, the German city of Münster was seized and held for a year by violent psychopathic Anabaptists. If that wasn't a hell of a story already, Arthur brings it to life in grisly Technicolor. Highly recommended.
Jesse
Jan 04, 2017 Jesse rated it it was amazing
Excellent account of the Muenster Anabaptist cult uprising.
Jon
Jul 08, 2013 Jon rated it it was amazing
One of most engaging historical accounts I've ever read. Truly reads like a novel.
Leroy Seat
Jun 06, 2012 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it

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