Christianity in One
The united realms of Bohemia and Moravia were formally a part of the Holy Roman Empire but in practice they were an independent kingdom. Because of the legacy of the Hussite Wars, a century earlier than Anabaptist migration, Bohemia and Moravia were almost the only part of western Christendom with a legally secured tradition of tolerating a plurality of confessions. 1 Even before the Reformation Catholics, Utraquists and Bohemian Brothers had lived side by side, certainly not in amity but without religious warfare. In Moravia, particularly, Catholicism was very weak in the early sixteenth century. When Balthasar Hubmaier came to Nikolsburg (now Mikulov), Moravia, in the late spring or summer of 1526, 2 he was leaving the realms of his hated ruler, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, for a land of religious toleration. Ironically, a few weeks later, on 29 August 1526, King Louis of Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary was killed in battle against the Turks at Mohács in Hungary. He was without direct heirs, and by virtue of a previous marriage treaty Archduke Ferdinand, married to Louis's sister, became King Ferdinand, ruler of Hungary, Bohemia and Moravia. This did not immediately change Moravia into a land of persecution. When the Moravian Estates recognized King Ferdinand in the fall of 1526, they required him to confirm their traditional rights, including freedom of religion. Despite intermittent Habsburg encroachment on Moravia's religious freedom, this constitutional shield protected Anabaptist settlement there for a century.
Hubmaier's arrival in Moravia was closely followed by the conversion and rebaptism of two persons of high rank, Martin Göschl, the coadjutor bishop of Olomouc, who dominated the Nikolsburg church, and Count Leonhart von Liechtenstein, the temporal lord