The third in a series of videos discussing my book, Menno-Nightcaps.

I discuss the first section of my book, Menno-Nightcaps, Cocktails Inspired by that Odd Ethno-Religious Group You Keep Mistaking for the Amish, Quakers or Mormons (Touchwood, 2021).
Music: The 606 Rag, composed and performed by Ed Heese
Videography: David Brulé


[Music] Hi.

Today we talk about 16th century Anabaptism, so it’s only fitting that I have a cocktail here that features burning at the stake. In fact, it’s a burning skewer but there it is.
I haven’t got the cocktail on the blog yet and it’s not in my book. I think i’m going to call it 1525 because that’s when our story begins.
So when most people think about European history and people getting burnt at the stake, they usually think about witches and it’s true witches did get burnt at the stake but that was a little later; that was more like the 17th century.
Anabaptists were burnt at the stake in the 16th century; we were burnt at the stake before it was cool.
So a little primer about the 16th century, just to help you get your bearings.
It’s after the middle ages — the black death happened in 1348. We’re talking about 1525 so it’s a fair bit afterwards.  Still, the plague did come around from time to time in waves. People were a bit more used to it but there were still a lot of people dying and there was a lot of infant mortality.
It was by no means the modern world.
Another way that it’s not the modern world:  their nation states were starting to get a little bit more power than they had before but you can’t really even call them nation-states yet. They were states and they started to get a little bit more in the face of the normal people but they weren’t anything like we would think of in the 20th century in terms of state power.
Another thing: the Italian Renaissance was coming to an end. It wasn’t done yet. Leonardo da Vinci was still going strong around the same time.  In my book, I have a nice little bit where I compare him to Pilgram Marpek, the famous Anabaptist.
The other really important innovation from around this time was the printing press. Now, it had been around for about 70 years by the time our heroes of this story, the early Anabaptists came around.
So that’s  sort of setting the scene for you.
I’m talking about northern Europe — places that are now called Germany and the Netherlands, Switzerland,  Eastern France, Belgium — that that part of Europe. Not really the south of Europe.
So of course the big thing that was happening at this time in those parts of Europe were the big religious reforms that kind of fell under the umbrella of the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists are people who fell into what was called the Radical Reformation.
When I first learned Anabaptist history, I was in Mennonite high school and the way I learned it was that there were some precursors — people like Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli who sort of had an inkling of the truth but they didn’t really get it and then some smarter people came along — Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz and Georg Blaurock — and they really understood it and there were three things that I was taught were the core tenants of 16th century Anabaptism:
1. one was adult baptism. People needed to be able to choose. They needed to be old enough to be able to know what they were choosing when they were baptized.
2. two was separation of church and state. Not very controversial today but more so then.
3. and third that communion or the lord’s supper or eucharist as it was called then was a symbol that it was not actually a real transformation of Jesus’ body into bread or bread into Jesus body, I guess.
So, those are the three things that I was taught and it was a nice easy way to to do well on the exam. You could just answer those three things. It was very simple and that all seemed perfectly reasonable to a 20th or 21st century teenager. Nonetheless, the people at the time found them very threatening because they couldn’t handle the truth and so they went about burning Anabaptists at the stake just like this marshmallow here.
I’ve since learned it’s a bit more complex. Oh no no –  I’ve learned it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Some of the Anabaptists, yes, some of them were like Conrad Grebel and Georg Blaurock and Felix Manz — educated young men. But some of them weren’t. There were lots of Anabaptists and they came from all walks of life. Some were rich, some were poor, some were educated, some were barely literate, some were men, some were women. Actually, quite a lot of them were women. Some of them believed the world was about to end, some of them didn’t. They all
they all agreed about the adult baptism thing and they were all sort of critical of the social order as it stood and the sort of hierarchies of the day and that’s kind of what made them threatening to the the leaders in these new states that were coming down hard on them (burning them at the stake, torturing, drowning, etc.).
There were a lot of martyrs.
We mennonites tend to know about all our martyrs in the past.
So anyway, I’ve made a cocktail about it and I talk a lot about it in the book.  The first section of my book is all about early Anabaptists. Like I said, you won’t find this cocktail there but I’ll put it up on my blog soon enough and
I think that’s it