chapter  II
34 Pages

European Background, 1525–1874

The story of the Americanization of Mennonites in Kansas began in Europe three and one-half centuries before their arrival on the Great Plains. Although Frederick was a comparatively tolerant ruler, Mennonite privileges lasted only a brief period as a growing spirit of militarism in Europe spread into Prussia. After the death of Frederick, an edict was issued in 1789 by his successor, King Frederick William II, revoking earlier Mennonite privileges. The largest group of Dutch Mennonites in Prussia responded to an offer made in 1784 by Catherine the Great to settle the frontier steppes of Russia. In 1567 the parties separated and banned each other, maintaining their dispute for three centuries throughout Europe. Both the Frisian and Flemish divisions spawned further schisms with conservative and progressive wings in both groups. European Pietism was a product of the late seventeenth century. It emphasized a "heartfelt" religion based on an emotionally experienced conversion stressing good works, nonconformity, and the second coming of Christ.