As a religious sect, the Anabaptists were seen to practice unusual rituals and follow an eccentric set of beliefs. One story, for instance, purports that an Anabaptist prophet, claiming to have visited heaven, persuaded his followers to run naked through the streets of Amsterdam. Eradicating the Devil's Minions investigates these beliefs in the context of Reformation Europe, a time in which persecution, religious intolerance, and witch-hunting were rampant.
Focusing primarily on the Habsburg-controlled regions of Europe, Gary K. Waite argues that the persecution of Anabaptists did not go hand in hand with the outbreak of witch-hunts in the mid-sixteenth century. Rather, distrust of Anabaptists predated the first major witch panic of 1562-3, and Waite suggests that the virulent propaganda against Anabaptist heretics helped convince governments of the existence of a diabolical threat. Although Anabaptists rejected religious magic, they were consistently demonized by Catholic and Lutheran polemicists.
Eradicating the Devil's Minions is an investigation into the roots of religious intolerance in Reformation Europe, and a unique examination of mass hysteria and social extremism.