chapter  5
20 Pages

Four Flowers and Two-Tailed Lions

When he heard about the Anabaptist colonies in Moravia, a Venetian weaver and painter named Marcantonio Varotto set out to see them for himself. His experience was powerful enough to convert, but on his return voyage, he fell ill and fearfully turned back to Catholicism. He made a deposition at Udine in 1568 in which he testifies, “I left Moravia because during the two months I spent there I saw so many faiths and so many sects, the one contrary to the others and the one condemning the others … In one place alone, and that small enough, called Austerlitz [Slavkov], there are thirteen or fourteen kinds of sects.”1 Beginning in the late 1520s, the lords of Moravia allowed persecuted religious groups to set up communities on their estates, attracting religious dissidents from far and wide, especially Anabaptists (in Czech, Habani, or Novokřtěnci) from southern Germany, the Swiss cantons, the Tyrol, and northern Italy. These multi-ethnic communities established their own Haushaben, living apart from secular society and structuring their daily life according to strict religious principles.