An Anabaptist Hero and Martyr: Michael Sattler

An Anabaptist Hero and Martyr: Michael Sattler January 11, 2012

The following is all quoted from

After the death of Conrad Grebel (1526) and Felix Manz (1527) Michael Sattler was the most noteworthy leader of the Swiss Brethren. His martyrdom took place only a few months after that of Manz.

Michael Sattler was born about 1495 at Staufen near Freiburg in Baden.” Educated at the University of Freiburg, Sattler entered the cloister of St. Peter near Freiburg as a monk, advancing to the position of prior of the cloister. Through his studies of the scriptures and, no doubt, influenced by the new reformation theology in circulation, Sattler left the monastery in 1523 and was married.

Sattler joined with the Swiss Brethren in Zurich, from which he was banished on November 18, 1525. He labored in the faith in Horb and Rottenburg in Worttemberg, later going to Strasburg in Alsace. Returning to Horb and Rottenburg, “on February 24, 1527, Sattler presided over a conference of Swiss Brethren held at Schleitheim in Canton Schaffhausen. He presented to this conference a confession of faith which was approved and adopted without a dissenting voice, and was later printed under the title, “Bruderliche Vereinigung etlicher Kinder Gottes” (Brotherly Agreement of Some Children of God), as the confession of faith of the Swiss Brethren.” The confession was considered important enough to be refuted by both Zwingli and Calvin in separate works.

Michael Sattler was captured by the Roman Catholic authorities in Horb, tried on May 17, 1527 at Rottenburg, and was martyred on May 21, 1527.

“On the morning of that day this noble man of God, in sight of horrible torture, prayed for his judges and persecutors and admonished the people to repentance. He endured the inhuman torture stipulated in the sentence. Then his mangled body was tied to a ladder. He prayed again for his persecutors while the ladder was placed upon the stake. He had promised his friends to give them a sign from the burning stake, to show that he remained steadfast to the end, enduring it all willingly for Christ. The fire having severed the cords wherewith he was bound, he lifted up his hand for a sign to them. Soon it was noticed that his spirit had taken its flight to be with Him whom he had steadfastly confessed under the most excruciating torture, a true hero of the faith.” (this section comes from the book Martyrs Mirror, Thieleman J. van Braght, Herald Press, 1987, pp. 416-418)

The Articles of Charges Against Michael Sattler

  • First, that he and his adherents have acted contrary to the mandate of the Emperor.
  • Secondly, he has taught, held and believed that the body and blood of Christ are not present in the sacrament.
  • Thirdly, he has taught and believed that infant baptism does not conduce to salvation.
  • Fourthly, they have rejected the sacrament of extreme unction.
  • Fifthly, they have despised and condemned the mother of God and the saints.
  • Sixthly, he has declared that men are not to swear before the authorities.
  • Seventhly, he has commenced a new an unheard of custom in regard to the Lord’s Supper, placing the bread and wine on a plate, and eating and drinking the same.
  • Eighthly, he has left the order, and married a wife.
  • Ninthly, he has said that if the Turks should invade the country, no resistance ought to be offered them; and if it were right to wage war, he would rather take the field against the Christians than against the Turks; (since the Turks are consistent in their beliefs) and it is certainly a great matter, to set the greatest enemies of our holy faith against us.

Upon this speech the judges laughed and put their heads together, and the town clerk of Ensisheim said: “O you infamous, desperate villain and monk, shall we dispute with you? The hangman shall dispute with you, I assure you.”

Michael said: “God’s will be done.”….

….The judges having returned to the room, the sentence was read. It was as follows: “In the case of the Governor of his Imperial Majesty versus Michael Sattler, judgment is passed, that Michael Sattler shall be delivered to the executioner, who shall lead him to the place of execution, and cut out his tongue; then throw him upon a wagon, and there tear his body twice with red hot tongs; and after he has been brought without the gate, he shall be pinched five times in the same manner.”

After this had been done in the manner prescribed, he was burned to ashes as a heretic. His fellow brethren were executed with the sword, and the sisters drowned. His wife, also, after being subjected to many entreaties, admonitions and threats, under which she remained very steadfast, was drowned a few days afterwards. Done the 21st day of May, A. D. 1527.

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  • Yshekster

    LOVED THAT, Kurt! The ninth was my favourite: “he would rather take the field against the Christians than against the Turks; (since the Turks are consistent in their beliefs)”.

  • Mike Ward

    Very interesting. I had never heard of this man before so I enjoyed reading about him.

    I found his /the Brotherly Agreement of Some Children of God Concerning Seven Articles here:

    I also found it interesting to read the 9 charges and ask which ones I could have been accused of.

    1) Not sure because I don’t know what the mandates were, but in general I believe in respecting the civil authorities.

    2) Believed yes, but I don’t really teach that any more. To me, that the bread is symbolic is obvious, but if I feel the need to explain why then it isn’t really obvious. I find it curious that most of the time I hear the word “represents” added to what Christ said about the bread being his body. The fact so many feel the need to clarify thais every single time the serve the Lord’s Supper suggest to me that maybe they think the way the Lord said it is ambiguous.

    3) I do not teach this. I used to, but I would no longer suggests those who received infant baptism need rebaptism unless that want it.

    4) I don’t reject annointing the sick and actually wonder why we don’t do it.

    5) Not sure what this means. He probably condemned praying to Mary or the saints. I don’t pray to Mary or the saints, but I do object to it either.

    6) I used to appose oaths but am split on it now.

    7) Well, I certainly don’t object to Sattler’s way of the Lord Supper, but I don’t see why it matters either. I don’t think I’d ever make a big deal about how it was done. Especially not in a culture were doing so could get you killed.

    8) I’d have never joined the order in the first place. I guess if I had and wanted out and would have left.

    9) I disagree with what Sattler said in the first part of this one and am a bit offended by the second part. I may comment on the second part of this one later because I think it has parallels with the way some anabaptists replace their neutral stance toward the government where they live with a disposition which is actually more antagonistic to the local government and more sympathetic to its enemies, but I’m still turning that one over in my head.

  • Mike Ward

    There is a longer bio here:

    I’m about 75% through it. It’s also very good.

  • Anonymous



  • Knowing that Michael Sattler was  put to death is one thing.  Reading the details of how they did it is horrid.  I just cannot imagine how anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ in any age could oversee such vile actions.