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

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  17 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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4.30  · 
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 ·  144 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Clif Hostetler
May 25, 2015 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
Tyler Smith
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Anthony Arthur, inspired by the modern-day drama of David Koresh and siege directed against him and the Branch Davidians by the US government, undertakes to share the story of the so-called Münster Rebellion (1534-35), focused on the charismatic leader Jan van Leyden and those in his radical Anabaptist circle. The story is better known in Europe, and is the subject of extensive German scholarship, but remains less well known to English speakers and those in the New World. Arther gives as the rea ...more
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"why should Münster have persisted in claiming our attention? The answer to the last question is dramatically visible today. Two hundred feet above the old Market Square, now called the Prinzipalmarkt, in modern, late-twentieth-century Münster, hang three iron cages, each measuring about seven feet by three feet by three feet. They are the same cages that Bishop Franz had had built nearly five centuries ago to contain the bodies of the three men executed before his eyes. The cages rest above the ...more
Paul Aicken
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical events explained in a gripping easily digestible narrative.

A story from the middle ages with parallels to modern conflict and despotic rulers. Forensically written and researched . I knew nothing of the siege of Munster or Jan Van Leyden until I read Wolf Trial a fiction Novel by Neil Mackay (also excellent imho). This sparked my interest to learn more about the actual events. I was not disappointed. Arthur breaks down a complex ( well for me anyway ) historical episode and its main c
Courtney Coombs
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The truth, as they say, is stranger than fiction. The story has everything you'd expect from a good drama, and nothing you'd expect from a non-fiction book about an obscure religious sect. Murder, brainwashing, treason, psychopathy, sacrifice, siege, torture, lust, greed, you name it. Worth the quick read, despite the confusing mass of similar-sounding names.
E. Kahn
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well researched and passably written account of a fascinating event, only misses a 5th star for failing to expand on the personalities involved - forgivable for the obscure burghers on the Anabaptist side but not certainly in the case of Franz von Waldeck and his allies.
Alex Robinson
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Incredible story, fairly average book.
Erin Piorier
Feb 11, 2014 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
Apr 11, 2015 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
Feb 13, 2014 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
Sep 01, 2015 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 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.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent account of the Muenster Anabaptist cult uprising.
Jul 08, 2013 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 rated it really liked it

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