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The Thirty Years' War and the Vieselmeyer Goblet


In Germany the reformation took place which divided the country religiously. The further propogation of the reformation in Europe, towards the end of the 16th Century and from the simultaneous retaliation of Catholocism saw the decrease in each case of the acknowledgment of each confession. Those who ruled over an area determined the faith of their subjects. Peasants had to therefore accept the religion of their masters or else secretly flee the settlement. Both Evangelical Catholic leaders tried to forcibly win back lost territory, from the other side. This only served to strengthen the religious contrast in Europe. The revolt by the larger Protestant Bohemians and the so-called Defenestration of Prague (May, 1618) led to a thirty-year relgious war.

The following groups fought on the catholic side: The troops from Emperor Ferdinand II of Habsburg, from Albrecht Eusebius of Wallenstein, Cardinal-Infante Fernando (aka: Ferdinand of Austria) and Count Tilly, Fieldmarshall elect Duke Maximilian of Bavaria. For the oppositions fought the soldiers of Friedrich V. of Palatine, Christian IV of Denmark, King Gustaf II Adolf of Sweden, Christian of Brunswick and Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé. The war depopulated whole regions and left many traces in everyday life life. A great number of citizens of the population died as a result of the plundering and devastation, the resulting hunger and the epidemics. The Thirty Years' War also brought numerous plunderings and fires to the region. Castle Limberg in the farm community of Boerninghausen was occupied by 30 soldiers in 1623, in order maintain the security of the house of Limberg. When the small battalion was reordered to Lippstadt, it was easy for "Drosten" (Count) Luebbert de Wendt - on behalf of Count Pfalz Neuburg - to conquer the castle. In September of the same year they tried again to take over the castle with a force of about 100 soldiers. A company of Tyllisch foot troops were quartered in Limberg in 1625 . In the following years many more soldiers were ordered there. The soldiers were responsible for numerous plunderings in Boerninghausen and the surrounding countryside.

It took scarcely 30 years, until all involved could see that "with war no souls are to be won" and no party could achieve a lasting victory. With the troops bled and exhausted and with the whole purpose of the war no longer obvious, the decision was finally taken to end the war in the favour of peace in 1648. The peace treaty was signed in Münster – traditionally a catholic stronghold – and Osnabrück, which belonged to the Protestant camp at that time. With the Peace of Westphalia the Reformation was now officially recognised alongside the catholic and the lutherin faiths.

By the end of the war in the year 1648 the married couple

VIESELMEYER, Hieronymus
VIESELMEYER nee STROWOLT, Christina

lived at Boerninghausen No.12. The surname was also written Fiselmeyer or Fieselmeyer. Hieronymus Vieselmeyer was a Swedish second lieutenant during the Thirty Years' War. Thus it is meant that he fought as a soldier in Swedish services (under Sweden king Gustav Adolf) on the side of the Lutherins. He was not of Swedish descent, but German.

In the year 1650, two years after end of war, Hieronymus Vieselmeyer (also Fiselmeyer or Fieselmeyer) gave to the church municipality of Boerninghausen 50 Taler for the poor in the village. In addition he gave the church a valuable golden tray along with a very valuable golden goblet for holy communion. The donations were a sign of gratitude for surviving the war intact.

The communion cup has the following latin inscription:

Hieronymus Fiselmeyer Obriestenleutnandt in honorem Dei ex sui Memoriam Ecclesiae Patriae dedit Anno 1650
Hieronymus Fiselmeyer Obriestenleutnandt in honorem Dei ex sui Memoriam Ecclesiae Patriae dedit Anno 1650

English Translation: »Lieutenant Colonel Hieronymus Fiselmeyer has donated, in the honour of God. in rememberance, to the homeland church in the year 1650.«


During the Thirty Years' War troops of both sides plundered, robbed and burned. In many cities and villages houses and farmsteads were razed to debris and ash. The inhabitants were driven out or killed. Soldiers did not even respect churches and monasteries. It is well-known that monasteries and churches were also robbed and set on fire by Swedish troops. Possibly Hieronymus Vieselmeyer had taken part in plundering these catholic places of worship and so came into the possession of the tray and goblet.

It is known that the brother Johann Vieselmeyer of the chapel on the adjacent farm donated a wood altar. The chapel is listed in the Ravensberg reclamation in 1556 as "churches of Einichhusen" and stood on the Eininghaus village square. This chapel no longer stands. It is further understood that Johann Vieselmeyer lived as a clerk in Halberstadt. Unfortunately, so far, no further information has been found.
The Vieselmeyer Goblet
The old goblet is still used today for communion in the Lutherin St. Ulricus-Church in Boerninghausen. Goblet and tray were elaborately restored in the year 1997.

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