Repression of the Anabaptists

With the breakthrough of the Reformation (1528), systematic oppression and persecution of the Anabaptists also began in Berne. They retreated to remote areas (Emmental, Oberaargau, Oberland).

There were phases of intense persecution and some that were more tolerant – or, at least, less strict enforcement of the mandates…

Two major Anabaptist disputations in Zofingen (1532) and Bern (1538) were fruitless. After that, in Bernese Anabaptist politics, it was mostly the hardliners who were in charge. The anti-Anabaptist measures in Berne were characterized by

  • Close cooperation between church and political authorities

  • An increasing systematization between 1659 and 1743 with the help of a special “Anabaptist chamber”

  • A double strategy: Fight against Anabaptism – Fight against grievances in one’s own camp.

In concrete terms, the Anabaptists were combated with the following measures

  • Proclamation of numerous “Anabaptist mandates”

  • Extensive measures used to detect Anabaptists

  • Various punishments: fines, flogging, imprisonment, torture, confiscation of goods, expulsion and deportation, sending to the galleys, execution, etc.