Mark Jantzi: December 2018
By the Jews
Tribulation during the first four decades after the crucifixion was mainly at the hands of the Jews and was focused mostly around Jerusalem and her environs. Stephen, the first martyr after Christ, died at the hands of the Jews. This mainly came to an end with the Roman’s destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD.
By the Pagan Roman Empire
In addition to turning them over to the beasts in the theatre, their examination and execution methods included crucifixion, various methods of burning and roasting them, pouring hot tar over them, being “tested” with red hot rods (and metal plates) and being compelled to handle them, stoning, beheading, stakes driven through them, limbs torn off, being dragged through the streets until their skin was torn off, eyes pierced, thrown off high places and dashed against rocks, torn asunder with hooks, sentenced to slavery in mines, scourged, beaten and anything else the devil could invent in his hatred for a holy God-fearing people. Sometimes the soldiers would come to the meeting houses, lock the doors and burn the building with the occupants, thousands being destroyed by this method. Often in the torture (examination), one would be offered relief by the offer to “only take a handful of grain and some salt and toss it into the flame of the god Jupiter as an offering, then we will let you go free”. Some yielded and apostatized in weakness, seeking to repent when the wave had passed.
This persecution included the entire Roman empire, taking in the circumference of the entire Mediterranean, including North Africa and western Europe. The leadership was particularly sought out, whom they referred to as the deacons and bishops. These waves of persecution occurred under some of the emperors particularly noted for their cruelty: names such as Nero, Dominitian, Trajan, and lastly Diocletian (and his eastern co-emperor Maximian) who ordered the destruction of all sacred writings in 303 AD. With the coming of his predecessor, Constantine and his “conversion”, he made a proclamation in 313 AD to end the Christian persecution and then proclaiming Christianity to be the official state religion. This resulted in thousands of pagans being baptized and declared to now be Christians. However, the emperor himself remained a worshiper of Sol, the sun god and was not baptized until nearly at the time of his death in 338. The church then soon took on baptism (including infant baptism) as a simple rite of initiation into church membership. But a pure remnant continued to insist on baptism of repentance and evidence of a changed life (which excludes infants), which is going to be one of the main issues for ongoing persecution of true believers, not from the pagans, but from the organized church system.
By the Eastern Byzantine Empire
The remainder of the fourth century was relatively quiet now since nearly everyone was a Christian. However, since the empire was somewhat divided between east and west, there were differences in interpretation of what was to be tolerated and what was not. During the fifth century (the 400s) it is mainly the Eastern Emperors who are persecuting the true Christians, namely some so-called Anabaptists, who will not submit to infant baptism of their children and insist on baptism of repentance of those who have come to the age of understanding. They are also in conflict with the empire by refusing to take up arms to engage in warfare and to swear oaths. This remains the situation for the next two or three centuries and it also includes persecution in Europe (particularly France).
Islam had come into existence about 610 AD and within 30 years it was conquering Egypt, which means that there will be severe persecution for the remainder of the seventh century. But there was also persecution in Italy under the Arian king against the Longobards, a Germanic people who had moved into northern Italy. Mohammedan cruelty against Christians continued into the eighth and ninth centuries, especially where they had established dominion in the east. The great enemies of the Christian west were referred to as “The Turks” during these dark ages.
By the Papists
Meanwhile, there has been a transition from the old Roman Empire to the new, which is now being run by the popes and their obedient bishops and clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. The popes have been gaining power and influence, especially in Europe, over kings and princes. The doctrine of Christ and the apostles is also slowly eroding and being replaced with ancient Babylonian practices and superstitions. As these new doctrines are being more strongly enforced, the toleration of any who hold a different view is stirring up more persecution. The ninth century sees persecution in France, Bulgaria, Spain, Denmark and England. Moravia is mentioned often among the persecuted. The tenth and eleventh centuries bring more of the same in much of the same places, mainly Christians being burned at the stake. There is a report at about 646 AD, of a stirring among the true church, which had on account of persecution, been hiding in dens and caverns. At this time there is mention of a large number of Jews, seeking baptism and naming Jesus Christ as the savior and Messiah. In AD 1022, the Catholics of Orleans, France burned 14 who had been accused of heresy by the pope. Their crime is that they refused to accept infant baptism and they refused to acknowledge that the wafer (the sacrament of the alter) had become the actual body and blood of the Lord, as so created by the priest. This “heresy” (according to an old book) was brought in from Bulgaria. These people were called Albigeos and also Bulgarians, because of their origin from Bulgaria.
The Waldensians (and the Albigenes)
This group takes its name from a man, Peter Waldo, a wealthy man from Lyons, France who became converted about 1160. After this he began to teach and preach the truth of the gospel to the poor, devoting all of his substance to this cause. By the year 1170 the name Waldensians was in common use for these people, many of whom dwelt in the Piedmont Alps of northwestern Italy, near to France. They also came to be known as The Poor Men of Lyons. However, there is much evidence that groups of these kind of people who held to the true message of the apostles had existed long before this. When a prominent teacher arises, those who follow are usually named after the leader by those outsiders. It is said that they had kept copies of the pure and undefiled scriptures in their native language. Nevertheless, Peter Waldo became a great asset to this community of believers and their numbers grew. Somewhere between 1175-1185, Waldo had a New Testament translated into the Arpitan (French dialect) vernacular for them. They rejected infant baptism, they denied transubstantiation, purgatory, worshipping crucifixes and condemned the wicked fornication of the unmarried priests of Rome. They believe that flesh can be eaten any day of the week. They also reject the apocryphal books and the writings of the church fathers as being equal with the holy scripture. In 1184 they were all excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Pope Lucius lll, and crusades would soon be organized to force them back into the church. By 1215 they were declared heretical. These people are also commonly referred to as Anabaptists (literally re-baptizers or again-baptizers) because those who were baptized as infants were re-baptized for remission of sins on their confession and repentance. Even though they seemed to keep a low profile, insofar as their living in the mountains and keeping of farm animals, their worst persecution would come about 500 years later than this. Since I am taking this study somewhat chronologically, I will bring them up again later.
Roman Catholic Inquisitions
An inquisition is an inquiry into a certain matter. My dictionary defines this kind of inquisition as, “A systematic pursuit of heresy and the punishment of heretics”. While there has been ongoing persecution and frequent murder of true saints, so there will now again be waves of cruel persecution of the true followers of Christ, much as there were waves of terror under certain pagan Roman emperors. The main difference in the means of torture, is that the Christians of this era will not be thrown to the lions or other wild beasts and will not be crucified as the Romans did . Other methods remain as before.
In AD 1198 Innocent III (a wicked man who was anything but innocent) became pope and was the first to institute the office of inquisition. So, the 13th century (the 1200s) began with the rounding up of those believed to be Waldenses or Albigenes, men and women who would be burned at the stake. Those who ministered to and taught these saints, boldly declared that the pope was the antichrist and that the Roman church was the great harlot of Revelation. During this century, despite persecution, the people of this faith multiplied greatly in Italy, France and Germany. The inquisitors were also burning their books (and bibles because they had been translated from Latin into their native tongues). Their teachers were supported financially even from those in other countries, where they traveled regularly to encourage and preach the gospel. And so, hundreds of these people were imprisoned, tortured and burned by the Roman church and their loyal governing princes. Innocent lll was considered one of the most powerful of popes, taking dominion over most of Europe. His inquisition slaughtered 15,000 Albigensian peasants in one town alone. In other towns they were burned by the tens, twenties and hundreds. In 1230, even the Emperor Fredric ll got into the act at the request of Pope Gregory IX. It was during his term that the Dominicans were given charge of most of the trials and examinations of the heretics, of course then turning them over to the “secular” local magistrates, bailiffs, executioners and such to carry out the actual arresting, sentencing and spilling of innocent blood.
After fleeing from England, John Wycliffe (1330-1384) came to Bohemia, where he learned from and came into agreement with the Waldensians. He of course is known for translating the Latin bible into English, and from which many “Lollards” began to spread the gospel among the common people, these also becoming persecuted ministers of the gospel. These missionaries were sharply critical of the Roman Catholic clergy and also became branded as heretics.
Persecution in the 15th Century
Wycliffe is also said to have written over 200 books, turning people away from popery. John Huss, in the early 1400’s also is said to have come into agreement with the Anabaptists and Waldensian brethren, and that he learned much from Wycliffe. Now this brings us into the 15th century (the 1400s). Huss, who is identified as a Bohemian (Czech) reformer was burned at the stake in 1415. His teaching left a following in Bohemia of Hussites, also known as heretics by the Roman church. Some of these Hussites became deceived, betraying what they were taught and began to take up arms to defend their cause. Jerome of Prague, having been influenced by Wycliffe’s teaching at Oxford, was also a follower of Huss and was likewise burned at the stake the following year, 1416.
I find it interesting that this century opens with England’s Henry lV publishing a decree against the Wicliffites. Much blood is shed by these who confess the holy gospel in England, at the hand of the clergy in England. There were also many believers put to death in France, Netherlands and Germany.
This century closes with the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, set up by king Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and with the authorization of Pope Sixtus IV. This inquisition incidentally lasted until 1834 (342 years), the last execution for heresy being in 1826. This inquisition was based on the model of one formerly done by the Germans and it was first directed against the Jews and Moslems, who had apparently been forcibly converted to Catholicism, but were not believed to be true and sincere Catholics. But it also spread to any who would not submit to Roman Catholicism, including the Waldenses and Albigenses. I understand that the Spanish kept very good records of their slaughtering, but I do not have this information available to me and cannot with certainty state how much innocent blood was shed, yet I have reason to believe that it caused much suffering.
The Bloody Theatre of the 16th Century (1500s) The Anabaptists
Up to this point, we have focused on those saints especially known as the Waldensians, Albigensians and those scattered about most of Europe. From this point on, the focus will be mainly on those known as Anabaptists and the theatre will be mainly the Netherlands and Switzerland; but this does not exclude Bavaria (Czech and Germany), Austria, Belgium and France. It seems that this new movement sprang up spontaneously in both locations as a move of the Holy Spirit and it will have much in common with these more ancient torchbearers.
What will be known as the Reformation, is well under way, as Martin Luther has struck the first blow against the Roman Catholic Whore with his publication of the 95 theses posted on the Wittenberg Castle Church door in Germany in 1517 (501 years ago). This opened the door for Zwingli to begin preaching his Reformed doctrine in Switzerland, where it found good success among the governing authorities. The Guttenberg printing press had already been in use in Germany since 1450 and the printing of the bible in the language of the people (not just Latin) was spreading the holy Scripture over the land. Zwingli, a Calvinist, however believed that the state and the church should be one and the same. He also held to certain Roman practices such as infant baptism. When challenged by men such as Felix Manz, Conrad Grebel and George Blaurock, the Zurich Council voted in favor of Zwingli, but that did not satisfy the others. Three days later on January 21, 1526 in a private meeting, Grebel baptized Blaurock who in turn baptized the others. The following year, the Zurich council passed an edict making adult rebaptism punishable by drowning and later also demanding that parents bring their children to the church to be baptized. Manz became the first martyr from this edict one year later, in 1527. And thus, began a new realm of bloodshed that was to last for more than 100 years. Grebel, also after ministering the message, died in 1526, apparently of natural causes. Blaurock, formerly a monk, but now already married, apparently doing the work of an apostle (compared by some to Paul), carried this new doctrine into the widest circles of the population. While his ministry was short but very effective, it was cut short by Satan. After being arrested several times, he was sentenced to death and burned at the stake in Klausen in September 1529. But the new fire of the Spirit was kindled and will not be put out.
Thus, there has come a definite separation between the Zwingli Reformed Church and the Anabaptist Brethren. The Reformed Church (one with the state) is quite willing to use the sword against brethren who dare to disagree with them, much as the Roman Catholics have been doing. Even Luther became willing to encourage the use the sword to quell the Munster rebellion of believers, who had been deceived and went astray to take up warfare. So, the Protestant churches have retained much of the ways of their harlot mother, including warfare and infant baptism, which the Anabaptists clearly disavow.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands and the neighboring regions, another Anabaptist (sometimes also called Baptist) movement has sprung up. A charismatic teacher and former priest by the name of Menno Simons is traveling about and spreading the same message. While extensively chased and sought after, he was never caught and apparently died of natural causes. The persecutor here is the old mother harlot, the Roman Catholic Church, enforced by the state emperors and nobles. There seemed to have developed some kind of intercourse between the two groups and in the end, it will be the Dutch, who will be trying to rescue the Swiss brethren from an attempt by the Swiss government and Reformed church to totally annihilate them.
How can I begin to describe the suffering that has been inflicted upon these dear saints? Much information has been gleaned from the court and criminal records of these regions by a Dutch minister while the information was fairly new and still available. The man, Thielman J van Braght has compiled all of this in his 1200-page book, Martyr’s Mirror, first written in Dutch in 1660. It was later translated into German and lastly into English (1837). From this book, I have gleaned most of this information. So how did they suffer? Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is also a good book; it covers mostly England and the well-known names, areas not included in Martyr’s Mirror.
Their numbers grew so fast that some of the executioners complained that they could not kill them fast enough; the numbers of new ones increased the more. Many who were killed had only been believers for six or twelve months when they were taken. Some had not yet even come to where they could have had baptism. The believers arrested were always interrogated to reveal the names of their leaders, those who had taught or baptized them, where they customarily gathered and the names of their known fellow believers. Often it was traitors or spies sent into the groups that would send in the arresting squads. Sometimes it was of jealousy or envy by a fellow tradesman who turned them in to the authorities. Obviously, not everyone was apprehended; but once arrested, few were ever released and a few occasionally escaped, due to the lax security at some of the prisons. They were often thrown in with the general prison population of murderers and thieves, but were interrogated differently, as by priests and monks.
These arrests cut right through the family without mercy. Sometimes it was both parents, sometimes only the one would be taken, the children then sent out to homes in the general community, where they would be raised to conform to the church. Often when one spouse would be taken, the other became a fugitive, having to hide in the homes of other saints or fleeing the country. Anyone caught aiding, feeding, lodging or assisting them in any way, was considered equally guilty of their crimes of heresy. Teenagers (lads and young maidens) were also taken and likewise died. If a pregnant woman was taken, her execution might be delayed until she had given birth and had completed her normal days of confinement; then the baby would be taken and she would be executed. Many, many letters were written by those in their confinement, awaiting execution; pages of precious exhortation to fellow saints, spouses and loved ones. How these letters were allowed to be written and taken out I can not imagine. In one case ink was purposely kept from the prisoner, but he used mulberry juice to write to his loved ones. Nevertheless, they also tell many details of the torture and interrogation that they had to endure by the papists.
The procedures sometimes went something like this (although it varied from city to region): The victims were brought before some kind of court, perhaps a burgomaster and then directly sent to some kind of holding prison to be first examined. This examining process could last for days, weeks or months; there being no such guarantee of a speedy or fair trial. This examination included much torture for the purpose of trying to make the victim apostatize, or renounce their faith and beliefs and agree to come back to the state sponsored church. This included beatings, burnings and especially the stretching rack (often stripped naked, including the women, for further embarrassment), which often left them so wounded that they could then not walk or even lift their hand to their mouth to eat; often they had to be carried back to their cell. On one occasion the man was stretched on the rack until his arms came out of the joints of the shoulder sockets. Then he would be sent back and a physician would be called in to get the arms back in the sockets. He could then heal for 3 or 4 days, and then the process would be repeated, several times before his execution. Ofttimes they were hung by ropes or chains to the wall and left for hours, sometimes with weights attached to their feet. It seems that keeping them in iron fetters and chains was quite the common practice, but not always.
In addition to this cruelty, or sometimes instead of the above, there was the interrogation process, which was done to some extent to all who were arrested for heresy. This was a secret or private process usually carried out by at least two monks. The victim would be questioned about what they believe of the Roman Catholic beliefs: baptism, is the host really the actual blood and body of Christ? will they pray to Mary or the saints? Do they believe that Jesus gave the succession of popehood to Peter? etc., etc. The attempt of course was to wear them down by debate and reasoning with them. To this the believers almost always held firm. Young people were often offered rewards if they would renounce their belief. If the monks could not handle the debate concerning the word, sometimes the heavy hitters (priests) were brought in. I am absolutely amazed at the knowledge of the of holy scripture that these saints had: men, women, young and old. I am also amazed at the willingness that they all had to face death, regarding their flesh of no worth, compared with the spiritual reward that awaited them. Brethren, the word that we believe of the kingdom of God and the message of “death to self” is nothing new, including their understanding of end time issues. These saints have always had and held this apostolic message from the very beginning of the church, although the majority of the “church” went through corruption, apostatizing.
After such examination, their confession would be written and the accused would be brought into a court where the charges and their confession would be read aloud. The prisoner in this setting was not reexamined and would seldom be given an opportunity to defend what was written about them. Nor were they allowed to defend themselves on the basis of scripture; this being one on the list of rules for interrogators, not to allow the defense to be heard in open court, lest the magistrates, bailiffs or others present, who were not clergy might be converted by hearing the word. This hearing would be held before anywhere from one, three, or up to a bench of nine judges, who would then vote on the sentence, which would almost always be death. The only variation would be the method of execution determined.
The usual execution was by being burned at the stake, this being preceded by a procession, leading the prisoner (by a rope if he could still walk), out of the city, accompanied by the beadles, magistrates, monks, bailiffs, and of course executioners. Beheading by the sword was considered the most merciful, quick and sudden; but it did not always work out that way. Women were sometimes given a more merciful way; they might be bound up in a bag which was tied to a rope and thrown into a body of water, to die by drowning. Occasionally loved ones were allowed to bury the remains; sometimes they were burnt to ashes. A few certain women were sentenced to be buried alive, thus to die of suffocation. Sometimes the saint was tied to the stake and then strangled (mercifully) before the fire was lit; some were nailed to the stake. The most vindictive execution was a slow torturous burn. Sometimes it was decreed that a roaring fire was to be first kindled, then the victim was to be tied partway up a ladder; then the ladder was set at the edge of the fire and tipped in, thus preventing the executioners from being harmed by the fire.
I do not read of any of these martyrs wailing and crying as they face their execution. Instead, I hear them praising God, singing and composing hymns, calling out to the crowd of onlookers to encourage any other believers who might be present. Believers from the crowd of onlookers are also calling out encouragement to the martyrs, that they not give up the good fight and receive the crown of glory that awaits them. I am thoroughly convinced that these martyrs knew the word of God and were confident in what awaits them. Would the members of the churches today be able to remain this steadfast in the face of death?
While we are still in the 16th century, it was in the year 1540 that the Jesuits were founded. They were the ones, who actually from this time on, actually ran the inquisitions; the Dominicans did most of the dirty work with the martyrs.
Coming to an End
The 17th century will bring changes to this field of persecution. It will be coming to an end in the Netherlands and their near environs. It began in the late 1570s when Prince William I of Orange (aka William the Silent), who had taken up resistance against the Spanish Hapsburgs, who were occupying The Netherlands with their Catholic Troops. These Spanish Roman Catholics (who were fiercely against any spiritual opposition from the side of truth), were eventually driven out and this Prince William 1 wrote to the regions of the Netherlands who were still harassing the Anabaptists, to cease and desist from such activity. In 1615 the Dutch made a mandate to end persecution against the Anabaptists, but they will continue to be slandered by the Calvinists. In 1626 the Dutch Anabaptists (now mostly called Mennonites or Amish) were required to write the articles of their beliefs. This, being signed by their minister leaders, apparently satisfied the governors and they became somewhat of a recognized church.
But this was not to be the case in Switzerland, who now went after the Anabaptists with a renewed bloody vengeance. In 1635 the Swiss forced the Anabaptists to register with the government (a clever ploy to find out who all they were) and to list all of their property (so that the government could more easily confiscate it when they were tried and found guilty of heresy). They were also told that on Sunday, they must attend the state Reformed Church services, which they refused, (continuing to meet at night, on other days than Sunday and in hidden locations). It was also decreed that they must follow the order of the Protestant Church in any of their meetings (again which they refused to do). At this time their Dutch citizens, as well as others in the general population of Europe, were growing weary of the continual execution of Christian martyrs. Pressure was being brought on the Swiss, so the city of Zurich wrote a manifesto of “apology” which was really an excuse for them to continue their brutal persecutions. Most of these Anabaptists in Switzerland were farmers of animal husbandry and had land for this purpose. They were being arrested, but not so many being outright executed (not so popular anymore), but were being kept in bonds in filthy damp dungeons and fed only bread and water for as long as 12-24 months; basically, until they wasted away and died of starvation and sickness. In addition, their property was confiscated so there was nothing left for them or their families to make a living. The ministers also kept a cash fund from offerings of the brethren, hidden in their homes for the assistance of such poor. The Swiss authorities even went after this fund, stealing whatever they could find.
In 1642 the City Council of Amsterdam wrote a very pleasant letter to the rulers of Zurich, begging them to be merciful to the Anabaptists. From 1644-1654 there was a small reprieve, but it did not last long. Seeing that the Swiss would be unable to publicly execute them, they decided on a campaign to drive them all out. From 1669-1671 hundreds of Swiss Anabaptists were driven out of the country by being robbed, arrested and deprived of their belongings and their citizenship revoked. Many managed to arrive in Alsace (where a welcome mat was laid out for them) and were thus incorporated into the Dutch brethren. And that was from Zurich.
It was a different story from Berne, where they stubbornly continued with imprisonment, expulsion and even sending men into galley slavery. This treatment continued into the 18th century until finally the French Revolution (1799) brought an “Edict of Tolerance” which also affected the Swiss. But repression continued, as in 1811, children were still forcibly baptized by the Langnau Reformed Church. It was not until 1850 that the federal government of Switzerland took over all cantons. In 1874 military service was required of all citizens, probably driving out the remaining Anabaptists. And I used to think Switzerland was a nice place! It seems to have never really officially ended in Switzerland. In 1717 many migrated to Eastern Pennsylvania and in the next century (1817-1850) to America’s Midwest states.
16th and 17th Century Waldensian Massacres
I also promised to bring some kind of closure to the treatment of the Waldensian brethren. They continued to be persecuted by the Roman Catholics, but not in exactly the same manner as the other Anabaptists, and they are now seen as a separate group of brethren. They began to discover what was happening in the Reformation and 1532 made some alliances with the Reformed Protestants and Calvinists in Germany and Switzerland. Today, they are nothing like they were 400 years ago. Somewhere I read that they have joined with the Methodists. In the 17th century, they definitely parted their ways with the Anabaptists, in that they took up arms and fought the French Catholic invaders tooth-and-nail to the bitter end. Many of the Mennonites today have also changed, being corrupted by the ways and doctrines of the worldly churches and environment. Nevertheless, let us regard the purity of what they were during a time of persecution. The final story of the Waldensians I found on the internet, and it is too long for me to retype it, so I am attaching the additional 4 pages to this document.
So, this is a summary of over 4000 known, non-resistant martyrs. There are obviously many more also waiting under the golden altar, for their blood to be avenged on the earth dwellers (Rev 6:9-11). Amen
 Note that many of these ancient accounts were written in Latin, thus the use of Latin terms to describe the ministry; however, nicolaitanism was already being strongly sanctioned by the bishop Ignatius, as he approached his martyrdom in AD 111. These “bishops” were really a chief pastor over only a particular city, not as over a dioceses or broad region of cities.
 Infant baptism was already being practiced widely in many churches by the mid third century, especially in north Africa, Alexandria and Carthage.
 This is the first recorded example of the charge of heresy by the Roman Church
 These people were also known as the as the Perfecti (perfect ones) because of their clean and pure lifestyle.
 When one goes to the internet (Google) to look up these Catholic inspired inquisitions and such, please be careful what you read. I find that more than half of these historical accounts are written by Roman Catholics and their defenders: making light of what really happened, proclaiming that it was not such a big deal and/or passing the accountability off on the local magistrates or the state government. This church is truly the great whore, drunk on the blood of the saints.
 I have attached a summary of the lives of these three Swiss pioneers to this article, which I copied from the internet.
 Followers were later referred to as Mennoists or Mennonites
 In Switzerland and sometimes Netherlands, they were called “thief catchers”; their practices were quite brutal. They would go out at night, smashing doors and windows to apprehend the saints.
 A Dutch chief magistrate, probably equivalent to a city mayor in the US.
 This varied from place to place, often depending of the hatred of particular magistrates.
 It seems that the ringing of a bell sometimes signaled the beginning of an execution.
 Some of the last executions in Holland actually started an insurrection of the local populace, setting some of the prisoners free.
 Switzerland did not at this time have a strong central federal government, it was mostly ruled by somewhat independent cities or cantons.