906 05 Sobotište, Slovakia
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Monument zone Sobotište – Hutterite court

The religious current of the Anabaptists formed in the early 16th century in Switzerland. Through their faith, they sought to bring themselves closer to early Christian society, gave up private property, and introduced new social and economic principles into society. From the beginning, they were persecuted and gradually expelled from all the countries where they settled. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, it was a heretical idea that the baptism of children was wrong, and one should decide to join the church on the basis of one’s own consciousness only in adulthood. The relationship to the papal church, secular power and society was also a crucial issue. In their faith and life, they were subject to God as a matter of priority. They formed their own communities based on economic and social equality, which sought to separate themselves from secular power. All the fraternal courts together formed one municipality (Gemeinde), administered by the bishop (Vorsteher). Its members were unwilling to take up arms and serve in government offices. Village abolished private property and introduced a new social order. The fraternal courts were an independent economic unit, a church community that itself judged and punished its members, jointly brought up and educated children.

Already in 1546, the Anabaptized in Sobotište established the first fraternal court in Slovakia. They settled here at the invitation of Count František Nyáry, who knew them from his property in Bohemia. They bought a mill and a desolate mayor from the peasant Kliment Papp, who was outside the village at that time. After the expulsion of the Anabaptisms from Bohemia in 1622, Sobotište became the seat of the bishop (Vorsteher) and the center of the social life of the Hutterite community in our territory. The bishop was the chief judge, administrator, leader and overseer. The Hutterites were famous craftsmen: potters, jugs, blacksmiths, metalworkers, knife makers, locksmiths, belt makers, saddlers, masons, carpenters, drapers, weavers, tailors, watchmakers, millers, winegrowers, gardeners, etc. For their skills they received various privileges from the lords, for example, they did not pay tithes, taxes on the mill, pub and slaughterhouse, the lords paid modest fees, in case of mobilization they sent one rider equipped with armament, otherwise they were exempted from military service and shelter.

At the end of the 17th century, due to the political and economic development of the country (war conflicts, raids by troops, looting and burning of dwellings), economic decline and moral disintegration of the Hutterite community took place, culminating in the demise of joint ownership in 1686. A royal mandate was issued in 1733, strictly ordering all Hutterite children to be baptized by Catholic priests, and despite Catholic baptism, children continued to be raised on their own in Hutterite families, but by 1763 most Hutterites had converted under the pressure of new ordinances. The Hutterite court in Sobotište has been managed by the Catholic Novodvoranská society since 1766. A year later, at the initiative of Maria Theresa, the construction of a chapel in the Hutterite court began. In 1810, about 250 Hutterites lived in thirty houses in Sobotište.

They still formed an independent village with its own governor, a school, a municipal treasury, which flowed the income from leased land, gardens and income from the Hutterite tavern, mill and slaughterhouse. They spoke German to each other. Its so-called they maintained their “autonomy” until the 1950s, when the management of the common property was definitively terminated. The descendants of these families still live in the village. In 1999, the Hutterite court was declared a monument zone. The oldest Hutterite court in Slovakia is a unique urban structure. The monument zone consists of about 73 buildings and there are 7 immovable national cultural monuments. The “Educational trail through the Hutterite court” will take you through the Hutterite architecture of the monument zone, which will convince you that the Hutterites have left a deep indelible mark in Sobotište.