West Virginia University Historical Review


Many scholars of the Reformation contend that the Anabaptist movement did not significantly impact the society of its day. However, my analysis of Heinrich Bullinger’s anti-Anabaptist work Von dem unverschampten fräfel, ergerlichem verwyrren unnd unwarhafftem leeren der selbsgesandten Widertöuffern indicates that the Anabaptists did pose a significant threat to the socioreligious structures that both the mainstream Reformation and Catholicism endorsed. By analyzing Bullinger’s propaganda strategies within the work, I find that the beliefs and practices of the Anabaptists challenged the most basic structures of society, thus alarming Bullinger and others who opposed the movement. Bullinger’s language within the work and the nature of his anti-Anabaptist arguments reveal that his concern reached beyond theological matters to more basic social matters. When considered in the context of Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of social capital, it is clear that the influence of the Anabaptists extended beyond obscure theological debate into the social foundations of fifteenth-century European society.



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