True Faith – The Anabaptist Martyrs [Leonhard Keyser, A. D. 1527]

Quick Facts about Leonhard Keyser

Born – 1495
Martyred – 1527
Faith – Before his conversion he was actually a Bavarian Catholic Priest. Thus, his conversion was treason. While many believe him to be an Anabaptist, he is also said to have been a Lutheran. However, in Bavaria he was called a Baptist which would lead one to believe that he had been re-baptized which means by default he was partially Anabaptist. The confusion is due in part to the fact that he once visited Germany to meet with the Lutherans and fellowship with them. But he was an avid learner of Luther, Zwingli, and the Anabaptist; all 3 teachings.
Killed By – Catholic Church
Location of death – Scharding, River Inn
Method of execution – Failed attempt at burning, then dismemberment and thrown into the river. The river as it appears today is in the photo below.

river Inn Bavaira

Testimony of Martyr Leonhard Keyser

Testimony from The Martyr’s Mirror, pg 421-422

When the believers greatly increased under persecution and the cross (Ex. 1:12), there was, in Bavaria, a learned priest of the mass, named Leonhard Keyser, who examined the writings of Zwingli and Luther, and also went to Wittenberg, where he conferred with the doctors and commemorated the Supper with them.

Having returned to Bavaria, he examined the fruits and doctrine of the Anabaptists, as well as of Zwingli and Luther, and joined himself under the cross to the separated cross-bearing church of the Anabaptists, in the year 1525, and forthwith continued in his ministry, with great power and zeal, undaunted by all the tyranny which arose over the believers, in the way of drowning, burning and putting to death. Acts 9:20.

In the second year of his ministry, Leonhard Keyser was apprehended at Scharding, in Bavaria, and condemned by the bishop of Passau and other priests and capitulars, to be burned on Friday before St. Lawrence day, in August of the same year. Having bound him on a cart, they took him to the fire, the priests going alongside, and speaking Latin to him, but he, on account of the people, answered them in German; even as they had refused to speak to him in German before the court, which he had frequently requested.

When he came out into the field, and was approaching the fire, he, bound, as he was, leaned down at the side of the cart, and plucked a flower with his hand, saying to the judge, who rode on horseback along side of the cart,

“Lord judge, here I pluck a flower; if you can burn this flower and me, you have justly condemned me; but,. on the other hand, if you cannot burn me and this flower in my hand, consider what you have done and repent,”

Thereupon the judge and the three executioners threw an extraordinary quantity of wood into the fire, in order to burn him immediately to ashes by the great fire. But when the wood was entirely burned up, his body was taken from the fire uninjured. Then the three executioners and their assistants built another great fire of wood, which when it was consumed, his body still remained uninjured,!!! only his hair and his nails were somewhat burnt brown, and, the ashes having been removed from his body, the latter was found smooth and clear, and the flower in his hand, not withered, or burnt in the least, the executioners then cut his body into pieces, which they threw into a new fire. When the wood was burned up, the pieces lay unconsumed in the fire.

Finally they took the pieces and threw them into the river Inn. This judge was so terrified by this occurrence that he resigned his office, and moved to another place. His chief servant, who was with the judge, and saw and heard all this, came to us in Moravia, became our brother and lived and died piously. That it might not be forgotten our teachers have recorded this as it came from his own lips, and now cause it to be promulgated and made known.

Further Observation of Leonhard’s Death

Also from The Martyr’s Mirror

Seb. Frank, in his Chron. der Rom. Kett. letter L.,. gives the following account of this matter:

“Having been brought a prisoner to Scharding, he was taken to the fire by three executioners; bound cross wise on a ladder, .and thrust into the fire. When he called upon Christ Jesus the ropes fell from his body and were burned; and as he was still alive, he rolled out of the fire at one side. The executioners instantly thrust him back into the fire, with hop poles, that happened to be there, so that he rolled out on the other side. There the executioners cut him alive into pieces, which they cast into the fire, without being able, however, to burn them, as I have read.”


10 thoughts on “True Faith – The Anabaptist Martyrs [Leonhard Keyser, A. D. 1527]”

  1. My children will be the 16th generation from Leonhard Keyser (Kaiser) 1495. I find this information of great but also sad interest. The stories of religious hostility and ill-treatment happen into this day.

    • The treatment of religious minorities was truly appalling. Perhaps we can best carry on the legacy of your forefather by loving those who are of differing opinions and views :)

      So glad you stopped by to comment.

  2. My 11th great grandfather.
    Our family moved to the Netherlands after this tragedy. The last name was changed to the spelling of Kaiser then. Unfortunately more persecution occurred for decades still after. It wasn’t until 200 years later, the Kisers found refuge in America.
    Never forgotten ggpa Leonhard.

    • Glad you made it here! I know many anabaptists went to countries offering refuge only to be harmed in their new host country. Russia under Catherine did them really dirty because they wouldn’t take up arms for Russia.

  3. Matt.
    My name is Ron Williams. I am also descended from the Keyser lineage. I am of the Australian branch via Charles Donat Keyser of West Virginia. The Keysers came to America via William Penn Settlement settling in Germantown, PA.
    There is a book in the Library of Congress on 300 years of the Keyser family. I was fortunate to help in organizing the 400 year anniversary held in Philadelphia in 1998. “Family” came from all over the world.


    Anabaptist Missionary Takes a Stand in CAM’s Haiti Sexual Abuse Case

    June 13, 2019Splsh4Ripls

    A report (link below) has surfaced regarding a meeting between Paul Weaver, Eli Weaver, CAM’s lawyer, and some men from Haiti along with several other men was sent to me this morning (not by the author).

    I have this to say; “Thank you God!” There are honourable men in our culture (as I have repeatedly said there were) who are willing to rise up and stand for truth, and against sexual violence. I pray that many will find the courage to speak against these crimes publicly, and insist on transparency and truth .

  5. This guy is actually in my family Tree. The story was passed down for generations but clearly lost much of the meat to the story. All we were ever told was that there was a flower that didn’t burn. So cool!


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