CHAPTER 10: General Persecutions in Germany (2/4)

Many were murdered at Halle; Middleburg being taken by storm all the Protestants were put to the sword, and great numbers were burned at Vienna.

An officer being sent to put a minister to death, pretended, when he came to the clergyman’s house, that his intentions were only to pay him a visit. The minister, not suspecting the intended cruelty, entertained his supposed guest in a very cordial manner. As soon as dinner was over, the officer said to some of his attendants, “Take this clergyman, and hang him.” The attendants themselves were so shocked after the civility they had seen, that they hesitated to perform the commands of their master; and the minister said, “Think what a sting will remain on your conscience, for thus violating the laws of hospitality.” The officer, however, insisted upon being obeyed, and the attendants, with reluctance, performed the execrable office of executioners.

Peter Spengler, a pious divine, of the town of Schalet, was thrown into the river, and drowned. Before he was taken to the banks of the stream which was to become his grave, they led him to the market place that his crimes might be proclaimed; which were, not going to Mass, not making confession, and not believing in transubstantiation. After this ceremony was over, he made a most excellent discourse to the people, and concluded with a kind hymn, of a very edifying nature.

A Protestant gentleman being ordered to lose his head for not renouncing his religion, went cheerfully to the place of execution. A friar came to him, and said these words in a low tone of voice, “As you have a great reluctance publicly to abjure your faith, whisper your confession in my ear, and I will absolve your sins.” To this the gentleman loudly replied, “Trouble me not, friar, I have confessed my sins to God, and obtained absolution through the merits of Jesus Christ.” Then turning to the executioner, he said, “Let me not be pestered with these men, but perform your duty,” on which his head was struck off at a single blow.

Wolfgang Scuch, and John Huglin, two worthy ministers, were burned, as was Leonard Keyser, a student of the University of Wertembergh; and George Carpenter, a Bavarian, was hanged for refusing to recant Protestantism.

The persecutions in Germany having subsided many years, again broke out in 1630, on account of the war between the emperor and the king of Sweden, for the latter was a Protestant prince, and consequently the Protestants of Germany espoused his cause, which greatly exasperated the emperor against them.

The imperialists having laid siege to the town of Passewalk, (which was defended by the Swedes) took it by storm, and committed the most horrid cruelties on the occasion. They pulled down the churches, burnt the houses, pillaged the properties, massacred the ministers, put the garrison to the sword, hanged the townsmen, ravished the women, smothered the children, etc., etc.

A most bloody tragedy was transacted at Magdeburg, in the year 1631. The generals Tilly and Pappenheim, having taken that Protestant city by storm, upwards of twenty thousand persons, without distinction of rank, sex, or age, were slain during the carnage, and six thousand were drowned in attempting to escape over the river Elbe. After this fury had subsided, the remaining inhabitants were stripped naked, severely scourged, had their ears cropped, and being yoked together like oxen were turned adrift.

The town of Hoxter was taken by the popish army, and all the inhabitants as well as the garrison were put to the sword; the houses even were set on fire, the bodies being consumed in the flames.

At Griphenberg, when the imperial forces prevailed, they shut up the senators in the senate chamber, and surrounding it by lighted straw suffocated them.

Franhendal surrendered upon articles of capitulation, yet the inhabitants were as cruelly used as at other places; and at Heidelberg many were shut up in prison and starved.

The cruelties used by the imperial troops, under Count Tilly in Saxony, are thus enumerated.

Half strangling, and recovering the persons again repeatedly. Rolling sharp wheels over the fingers and toes. Pinching the thumbs in a vice. Forcing the most filthy things down the throat, by which many were choked. Tying cords round the head so tightly that the blood gushed out of the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Fastening burning matches to the fingers, toes, ears, arms, legs, and even the tongue. Putting powder in the mouth and setting fire to it, by which the head was shattered to pieces. Tying bags of powder to all parts of the body, by which the person was blown up. Drawing cords backwards and forwards through the fleshy parts. Making incisions with bodkins and knives in the skin. Running wires through the nose, ears, lips, etc. Hanging Protestants up by the legs, with their heads over a fire, by which they were smoke dried. Hanging up by one arm until it was dislocated. Hanging upon hooks by the ribs. Forcing people to drink until they burst. Baking many in hot ovens. Fixing weights to the feet, and drawing up several with pulleys. Hanging, stifling, roasting, stabbing, frying, racking, ravishing, ripping open, breaking the bones, rasping off the flesh, tearing with wild horses, drowning, strangling, burning, broiling, crucifying, immuring, poisoning, cutting off tongues, noses, ears, etc., sawing off the limbs, hacking to pieces, and drawing by the heels through the streets.

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 10

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