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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 property, took sixteen wives (supposedly emulating the biblical patriarchs), and in a deadly reign of terror, executed all who opposed him. As the long siege of Muenster resulted in starvation, thousands fled Jan's deadly kingdom while others waited behind the double walls and moats for the apocalyptic final attack by the Prince-Bishop's hired armies, supported by all the rulers of Europe.
With the sudden rise to power of a compelling personality and the resulting violent threat to ordered society, Jan van Leyden's distant story strangely echoes the many tragedies of the twentieth century. More than just a fascinating human drama from the past, The Tailor-King also offers insight into our own troubled times.
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["An informed account of the Muenster rebellion and the Anabaptist Uprising. Both the dramatic sides of the tale - the tragic and the ludicrous - are painted so vividly that the book is as hard to put down as a gripping piece of fiction." --Alasdair Heron, Professor of Reformed Theology at the University of Elrangen (Germany)
"Anthony Arthur has told the story of the Anabaptists in Muenster clearly and with commendable empathy, and has succeeded in placing this local and distant 16th-century event in the context of our present day. What happened in 1534-1535 with regard to the anticipated 'Day of Judgment' is now occurring in similar patterns as we approach the year 2000, and we can probably anticipate more such events in the future. As Arthur correctly says, 'The people of Muenster were recognizable like those of today' in many ways." --Dr. Karl-Heinz Kirchoff, author of THE SEIZE AND CONQUEST OF MUENSTER, 1534-1535About the Author:
Anthony Arthur is the author of numerous works of history, including Deliverance at Los Baños and Bushmaster. He was a Fulbright Scholar in 1980 and lives in Woodland Hills, California.
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