This is the story of the first Anabaptists. The setting is in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland. I have tried to reconstruct events as they actually happened, to give a true picture of those troubled times. The source materials are amazingly detailed, and much of the conversation was lifted right out of the court records, word for word, and translated to English.
There are more than seventy characters in the book. All but one are actual historical figures. The one exception is baby Conrad Boshart. In two other cases--those of Regula Boshart and Joder Boshart--the given names did not appear in the records, so they were supplied. (The names Joder and Regula are common for the period.) In all other instances actual names are used.
The primary source of this book has been Quellen Geschichte der Trufer in der Schweiz, Zurich. This book contains all the mandates, court records, and miscellaneous data relating to the Anabaptists in the canton of Zurich for the decade, 1523-33.
Other books that were especially helpful were the biographies of the three leaders: Conrad Grebel, Founder of the Swiss Brethren, by Harold Bender; by J. A. Moore; and Leben und Sterben des Zurcher Tauferfuhrers Felix Mantz, by Ekkehard Krajewski. To this trio should be added Fritz Blanke's excellent booklet on the church at Zollikon, Brothers in Christ.
I have written Fire in the Zurich Hills as companion volume to my earlier book, The Drummer's Wife, the story of Anabaptism in the Netherlands.
This is a book in which men and women struggle to know the will of God, and to live it. True faith in the sixteenth century was not easy.
Nor is it easy today, in the twentieth century. The cost is still the same--whole-hearted devotion and obedience to God. Temptations have not lessened, nor even changed, in four hundred years. The decisions of our forefathers are the decisions we face today.
That, in short, is the reason for this book.
Guaimaca, Honduras July 21, 1972
THE CHILLING WIND from Lake Zurich slapped young Marx Boshart in the face as he started down the village street toward Fridli Schumachers. Marx squinted at the setting sun, pale and weak in the January sky, and pulled his coat collar tight to his whiskers.
No doubt his brother-in-law would be at home, hammering away at a pair of shoes. Fridli was always busy, but not so busy that he wouldn't have time to talk.
Marx strode briskly down Gstad Street and then climbed the hill to the shoemaker's shop. Fridli Schumacher was not only the best shoemaker in Zollikon,
he was also one of its best-known citizens. Everybody liked him.
Marx rapped lightly, then pushed open the door and entered. The smell of leather hung thick in the air....