Page:Balthasar Hübmaier.djvu/334

This page has been validated.
Balthasar Hübmaier

encourage their coming, for never had they been able to obtain labourers so satisfactory on their estates. Moravia was in that day, as in our own, one of the most fertile provinces of Austria, and it was experiencing a great access of prosperity in the growth of these Anabaptist communities. The testimony to the sober, law-abiding character of the people composing them is unbroken by any accusation of offence, even from their bitterest foes, save the form of religion that they professed and practised. This, however, was a continual offence, and the wonder is that they were unmolested so long.

The downfall of the communities began in 1535. By that time Ferdinand was sufficiently freed from his various embarrassments, chiefly immediate fear of the Turk, to permit him to give serious attention to matters never long absent from his thoughts— first among them the clearing of his dominions of all heretics. A fierce persecution was begun in the Tyrol, that ended in the martyrdom of Jacob Huter at Innsbruck, February 24, 1536, and the destruction or scattering of his followers. A simultaneous attempt was made to eject the Anabaptists from