Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Gerard Vallee


The aim of this study is to shed light on the thought of Michael Sattler, formerly a Benedictine monk, later an Anabaptist leader and author of the influential Schleitheim Articles. The method followed has been first to seek out potential sources of influence on Sattler by re-examining his life, following which the relevant literature has been analyzed. Concerning his pre-Anabaptist life it has been shown that at St.Peters of the Black Forest Michael Sattler lived in a monastery under-going reform. This observant monastic background is central to understanding Sattler's subsequent thought as an Anabaptist. This study concludes further that the rebellious Black Forest peasants played a central role in providing Sattler his point of contact with the evangelical, revolutionary and Anabaptist movements. Following his departure from the monastery, Sattler resided in the Zurich Unterland, living in the house of a radical Anabaptist weaver. He was rebaptized in the late summer of 1526. Michael Sattler thus belongs to the second generation of Anabaptist leaders which emerged following the failure of both the peasants' revolt and early Anabaptist efforts at territorial church reform. An analysis of Sattler's thought shows that of the monastic, evangelical and peasant milieux to which he had been exposed the primary imprint on his thought stems from his monastic past. Although he follows a Protestant lead in holding to sola scriptura, a corresponding doctrine of sola fide is absent. Sattler's interpretation of scripture, his Christology, his soteriology and his ecclesiology all recall monastic, rather than Protestant, theology. Michael Sattler accepted the doctrines basic to the early Swiss Anabaptists -- adult baptism, the ban, and a commemorative Lord's Supper -- but he introduced significant monastic elements into the Anabaptist tradition through the Schleitheim Articles. In particular he contributed a monastic emphasis on following Christ, as well as a doctrine of the church as the separated, ascetic community of saints.

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