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NICHOLAS (or NICLAES), HENRY (or HEND...

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 656 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NICHOLAS (or NICLAES), HENRY (or HENDRIK) (c. 1501-C. 158o)  , founder of the
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sect called " the
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Family of Love," was born in 1501 or 1502, at Munster, where he was married and carried on the business of a mercer . As a boy he was subject to visions, and at the age of twenty-seven charges of
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heresy led to his imprisonment . About 1530 he removed with his family to Amsterdam, where he was again imprisoned on a charge of complicity in the Munster revolution of 1534-1535 . About 1539 he experienced a call to found his " Familia Caritatis." Removing to Embden, he lived there and prospered in business for twenty years, though he travelled with commercial as well as missionary
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objects into the
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Netherlands, England and elsewhere . The date of his sojourn in England has been placed as early as 1552 and as
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late as 1569 . In 1579 he was living at Cologne, where probably he died a
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year or two later . His doctrines seem to have been derived largely from the Dutch Anabaptist David
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Joris or George, who died in 1556; but they have mainly to be inferred from the jaundiced accounts of hostile writers . The outward trappings of his
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system were merely Anabaptist; but he anticipated a good many later speculations, and his followers were accused of asserting that all things were ruled by nature and not directly by
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God, of denying the dogma of the Trinity, and repudiating infant
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baptism . They held that no man should be put to
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death for his opinions, and apparently, like the later
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Quakers, they objected to the carrying of arms and to anything like an oath; and they were quite impartial in their repudiation of all other churches and sects, including Brownists and Barrowists . Nicholas's
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principal
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disciple in England was one Christopher Vitel, and towards 1579 the progress of the sect especially in the eastern counties provoked
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literary attacks, proclamations and
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parliamentary bills . But Nicholas's followers escaped the gallows and the stake, for they combined with some success the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove . They would only discuss their doctrines with sympathizers; they showed every respect for authority, and considered outward conformity a duty .

This quietist attitude, while it saved them from molestation, hampered propaganda; and though the " Family " existed until the

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middle of the 17th century, it was then swallowed up by the Quakers,
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Baptists and Unitarians, all of which de-nominations may have derived some of their ideas through the " Family " from the Anabaptists . The list of Nicholas's
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works occupies nearly six columns in the
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Diet . Nat . Biogr . See also Belfort Bax, Rise and Fall of the Anabaptists, pp . 327-380 (1903) ; and Strype's Works, General
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Index . (A . F .

End of Article: NICHOLAS (or NICLAES), HENRY (or HENDRIK) (c. 1501-C. 158o)
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