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KNIPPERDOLLINCK (or KNIPPERDOLLING), BERNT (BEREND or BERNHARDT) (c. 1490-1536), German divine, was a prosperous cloth-merchant at Miinster when in 1524 he joined Melchior Rinck and Melchior Hofman in a business journey to Stockholm, which developed into an abortive religious errand. Knipperdoliinck, a man of fine presence and glib tongue, noted from his youth for eccentricity, had the ear of the Munster populace when in 1 527 he helped to break the prison of Tonics Kruse, in the teeth of the bishop and the civic authorities. For this he made his peace with the latter; but, venturing on another business journey, he was arrested, imprisoned for a year, and released on payment of a high fine in regard of which treatment he began an action before the Imperial Chamber. Though his aims were political rather, than religious, he attached himself to the reforming movement of Bernhardt Rothmann, once (1529) chaplain of St Mauritz, outside Munster, now (1532) pastor of the city church of St Lamberti. A new bishop directed a mandate (April 17, 1532) against Rothmann, which had the effect of alienating the moderates in Munster from the democrats. Knipperdollinck was a leader of the latter in the surprise (December 26, 1532) which made prisoners of the negotiating nobles at Telgte, in the territory of Miinster. In the end, Munster was by charter from Philip of Hesse (February 14, 1533) constituted an evangelical city. Knipperdollinck was made a burgomaster in February 1534. Anabaptism had already ( September 8, 1533) been proclaimed at Munster by a journeyman smith; and, before this, Heinrich Roll, a refugee, had brought Rothmann (May 1 533) to a rejection of infant baptism. From the 1st of January 1534 Roll preached Anabaptist doctrines in a city pulpit; a few days later, two Dutch emissaries of Jan Matthysz, or Matthyssen, the master-baker and Anabaptist prophet of Haarlem, came on a mission to Munster. They were followed (January 13) by Jan Beukelsz (or Bockelszoon, or Buchholdt), better known as John of Leiden. It was his second visit to Munster; he came now as an apostle of Matthysz. He was twenty-five, with a winning personality, great gifts as an organizer, and plenty of ambition. Knipperdollinck, whose daughter Clara was ultimately enrolled among the wives of John of Leiden, came under his influence. Matthysz himself came to Munster (1534) and lived in Knipperdollinck 's house, which became the centre of the new movement to substitute Munster for Strassburg (Melchior Hofmann's choice) as the New Jerusalem. On the death of Matthysz, in a foolish raid (April 5, 1534), John became supreme. Knipperdollinck, with one attempt at revolt, when he claimed the kingship for himself, was his subservient henchman, wheedling the Munster democracy into subjection to the fantastic rule of the " king of the earth." He was made second in command, and executioner of the refractory. He fell in with the polygamy innovation, the protest of his wife being visited with a penance. In the military measures for resisting the siege of Munster he took no leading part. On the fall of the city (June 25, 1535) he hid in a dwelling in the city wall, but was betrayed by his landlady. After six months' incarceration, his trial, along with his comrades, took place on the igth of January, and his execution, with fearful tortures, on the 22nd of January 1536. Knipperdollinck attempted to strangle himself, but was forced to endure the worst. His body, like those of the others, was hung in a cage on the tower of St Lamberti, where the cages are still to be seen. An alleged portrait, from an engraving of 1607, is reproduced in the appendix to A. Ross's Pansebeia, i65S- See L. Keller, Geschichte der Wiedertaufer und thres Reicns zu Munster (1880); C. A. Cornelius, Historische Arbeiten (1899); E. Belfort Bax, Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists (1903). (A. Go.*)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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