Death of Hutter
In 1535 King Ferdinand commanded the nobles to force the Anabaptists from their land, which the nobles did. The Hutterites, now carrying their belongings with them, wandered around in Moravia, hiding in fields and forests. They were encouraged to return to Tirol (Southern Austria and norther Italy), but few did. Hutter was a wanted man and was considered a prime trouble-maker by the authorities. King Ferdinand place a 40 Guilders (solid year’s wages) price on his head in an attempt to capture him.
Hutter evaded capture for a time. However, on November 29, 1535, authorities captured him and his wife Kathrina in Tirol after he made another missionary trip back to the region to try to convince followers to come to Tirol with him.
Interestingly, authorities made a concerted effort and organized a large search covering multiple jurisdictions. Rarely, did they ever attempt to patrol outside their own jurisdictions, but because he was a highly wanted man, they made special provisions for his capture.
Authorities took Hutter to Innsbruck for trial. After being tortured, he still give them no names of any of the Brethren, nor any information about his mission. King Ferdinand wanted to make an example of Hutter, so he was given “special treatment”.
For example, he was repeatedly severly whipped and placed on the rack.
On February 25, 1536 King Ferdinand ordered Jakob Hutter to burned at the stake in the public square in Innsbruck beneath the Goldene Dach (Golden Roof). He was held in freezing water and then placed in a hot room. Brandy was then poured on his wounds and then he was publicly burned to death.
His wife Katrina, who escaped, was recaptured, and executed two years later.
However, Hutter’s legacy lives on. He had brought strong leadership to Anabaptists that had been fragmented into at least a dozen different groups. During his years as chief elder of the group, he had forged working communal groups, creating practical regulations and organizational structures for making communal life work. As a result, these groups, gained the structure they needed to live their life for Christ in community.
Hutterites take their name from the Hutter (hat maker) from Tirol.