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History of the Anabaptists in Sobotište. III. court decay and recatholization

The introduction of private farming heralded the decline and disintegration of communities, which was accelerated by efforts to recatholize anabaptists. In Slovakia, the first attempt in 1674 was the Archbishop of Esztergom Juraj Selepčéni. Since 1725, spiritual authorities have sought to induce the brothers to baptize their children. The situation was closed in 1733 by Emperor Charles VI. mandate in which he commanded to baptize all anabaptist newborns. Although the parents had baptized their child in a Catholic church, they continued to raise them at home in their faith, and had the baptized child once again baptized to their Vorsteher (bishop).

In the re-Catholicization, Maria Theresa continued with a series of measures against anabaptists. The brothers had to have the Chairs pass the examination of their books and records. Since 1760 they have appointed Jesuit missionaries to the fraternal courts and have been obliged to attend their catechesis. The brothers turned to the monarch for help. They pointed out the old privileges that allowed them to practice their religion. On the basis of a report by the Hungarian Governing Council, the Vienna Court responded by removing the anabaptists preachers and by installing Catholic ones, by the internment of rioters in monasteries, by teaching catechism. He confiscated the anabaptists books and replaced them with Catholic ones. At the same time, it nullified all benefites and privileges and, like other subjects, placed them under the law to pay taxes. Zachariáš Walther, Tobiáš Pullman and Abraham Tscheterla were interned from the Sobotište monasteries. Vorsther Zachariah Walther, who converted in May 1763, resisted for the longest time. 30 families moved out of Sobotište. Forced conversion was not always honest, as was shown after the Toleration Patent was issued in 1781. The brothers believed that freedom of religion also extended to anabaptists. At a meeting in Sobotište in March 1782, a part of the citizens of the court declared that they were returning to the anabaptist faith, from which they had fallen under pressure and battle. The second part, which identified with the conversion, requested protection against these renegades. One of the main apostates was Jakub Walter. Along with the others who returned to the anabaptism he was preparing to flee to Ukraine, where in 1770 the brothers from Transylvania moved. By the end of June 1782, about 80 people had fallen away, half of the residents of the court. Emperor Joseph II. rejected the anabaptists’ request and warned them that he would intervene against the riots. By 1793, dozens of people, under the leadership of Jakub Walter, had moved to Višenky, Ukraine, to their comrades.