Menno Simons (1496-1561)
In 1536 Menno Simons, until then a catholic pastor at Witmarsum in Friesland joined them. He is not the founder or the only leader, which idea may have arisen because he published much. In other countries Anabaptists are called: ‘Mennonites’ , but in the Netherlands: Anabaptists (in Dutch: ‘Doopsgezinden’).
Calvinism emerged from the beginning of the revolt against Spanish rule, around 1560. It became the strongest Protestant religion, perhaps due to more rigid organization.
Anabaptists in the Netherlands were soon divided, mainly about the ‘Way of life’, less about doctrine. After the Act of Abjuration (Dutch: ‘Plakkaat van Verlatinghe’, the declaration of independence by the Netherlands from Spain) they were tolerated instead of persecuted, from 1672 onwards they were recognized, from 1795 onwards they had equal rights.
Zaandam consisted, until the reorganization of communes by Napoleon in 1811, of two villages, East and West Zaandam, which had during most of the 17th century six Mennonite denominations. Their differences concerned orthodoxy and liturgical aspects such as foot washing.
In 1687 the ‘Flemish’ and the ‘Waterland’ denominations, both liberal, merged: They built a new, larger ‘Admonition’ building.