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New Jerusalem

The short life and terrible death of Christendom’s most defiant sect

Penguin Random House 2019

In February 1534 a violent religious sect of Anabaptists, whose disciples were being persecuted throughout Europe, seized the walled city of Münster in the German-speaking land of Westphalia.

They had convinced themselves that they were God’s Elect and the Messiah had chosen Münster as the ‘New Jerusalem’, the scene of his Second Coming.

What unfolds is a story of extraordinary devotion and depravity, sustained by the beliefs of those inside Münster that god favoured them and would speed them to Paradise on Judgement Day.


Many Anabaptists went happily to their deaths, dancing around the scaffold as though it were a maypole. For them, this was the beginning, not the end. Death was a divine reunion with the Lord…


‘Ham succeeds impressively. In my judgment this is the most readable narrative of Anabaptist rule in Münster. … He has read very widely in the English translations of studies of Anabaptist Münster, going back to Leopold von Ranke in the 1850s; and he has had some of the untranslated German studies translated for him.’

Professor James Stayer, Queen’s University

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