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Christian History

Today in Christian History

January 31

January 31, 1561: Anabaptist leader Menno Simons, for whom Mennonites are named, dies in Wustenfeld, Germany (see issue 5: Anabaptists).

January 31, 1686: King Louis XIV of France, having already revoked the Protestant-tolerating Edict of Nantes, orders all Waldensian churches burned. The Waldensians, members of a pre-Reformation tradition that stressed love of Christ and his word and a life of poverty, were soon devastated: 2,000 killed, 2,000 "converted" to Catholicism, and 8,000 imprisoned (see issue 22: Waldensians).

January 31, 1737: Jacob Duche, Episcopal clergyman and chaplain to the Continental Congress, is born in Philadelphia. He later had a change of heart about the war and asked George Washington to have Congress recall the Declaration of Independence (see issue 50: The American Revolution).

January 31, 1892: Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the greatest public speakers of his day, dies at Mentone, France (see issue 29: Charles Spurgeon).

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April 22, 1418: The Council of Constance ends, having finally ended the Great Western Schism. When the schism began nearly 40 years earlier, three men had reasonable claims to the papacy. The council deposed all three and elected Martin V. (Martin then turned around and rejected further councils' right to depose a pope.) Though that part of the council is regarded as a triumph, the council also hastily condemned Jan Hus, a Bohemian preacher and forerunner of Protestantism, and sentenced him to execution ...

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