A Simple Weaver Advocates Non-violent Opposition to Religious Persecution

Rychsner (also Richsner), Utz
 (fl. 1503-1525)

Ain schöne vnderweysung, wie vnd wir in Christo alle gebrüder vnd schwester seyen dabey angezaigt nicht allein die weltlichen wie sy es nennen, sonder auch die gaistlichen zustraffen, wa sy anders in dem leybe dessen haubt Christus ist wollen sein auff die geschrift gotes gegründt vnd darauß gezogen zu nutz allen die das götlich wort lieben seindt.

Augsburg: Heinrich Steiner, 1524


Quarto: 20.5 x 15.5 cm. [16] lvs. A-D4 (d4 is blank and present)


Modern wrappers. A nice, broad-margined copy with a four-part woodcut title border.

The Augsburg weaver Utz Richsner was a member of the important -if small- group of lay pamphleteers who agitated for social justice and religious reform in the volatile early years of the Reformation. Like his contemporary and associate, the soldier Haug Marschalck, Richsner took part in protests challenging the Catholic clergy and the civil government, whose interests were strongly aligned. But while the unrest sometimes led to arrests, Richsner advocated only non-violent means of effecting change.

“Richsner was the author of four pamphlets, all published in 1524. He seems to have been a careful and wide-ranging reader, drawing inspiration from saints’ lives, medieval chronicles, as well as Scripture, published sermons, and the works of Luther, Zwingli, and Erasmus. But Richsner’s interpretation of his sources was informed by his own experience of the lay movement for reform in Augsburg.

“All Christians had the duty, according to Richsner, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to teach one another the word of God. However, the wealthy men who controlled the city council had neglected their obligations to their brethren. They persecuted clergy who sought to preach the word of god, threatening them with arrest, execution, and banishment. And perhaps referring to his own arrest at a protest, Richsner complained that the laity was forbidden to correct the priests when they erred: ‘they [the clergy] have authority from God to correct us, but we can’t correct them at all, as if they themselves are the Christian church!’ Richsner emphasized the people’s right to institute the reform that their leaders would not, but he was careful to add that change must come by persuasion, and not by force.”(Creasman, p. 86)

VD 16, R 2215 (3 complete copies only); Köhler 3984; Laube I, 439; Liebmann, Rhegius, 419, 16; Kuczynski 2246; Pegg 3547; See also: “Lay theology in the Reformation: popular pamphleteers in southwest Germany, 1521-1525”.