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Reforming windmills: Gerhard Westerburg, Theologian and Inventor (1486-1558)


Kess, Alexandra (2015). Reforming windmills: Gerhard Westerburg, Theologian and Inventor (1486-1558). Reformation, 20(2):130-150.

Abstract

This article draws upon the correspondence of Heinrich Bullinger and the Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, in order to shine new light on the life of the German theologian Gerhard Westerburg (1486–1558) and his invention of a horse-drawn windmill in 1545. A short, fresh survey of the life of Westerburg, who had become notable as a leader of the Anabaptists in his native Cologne and ended his life as a reformed minister in Frisia, will provide the background for his engineering adventure. While on a trip to Zurich, intended to better acquaint himself with aspects of reformed theology, Westerburg showed off sketches and a model of his windmill in order to try to find funding for its development. Westerburg met with no success in Zurich, but his invention even reached the court of Henrician England, through Henry VIII's disgraced former engineer, Stephan von Haschenberg. Having been dismissed for fraud after more than a decade in the king's service, Haschenberg tried to convince Henry of the advantages of his reemployment with a list of useful inventions, including Westerburg's, who had apparently instructed Haschenberg in person how to build this wondrous windmill. Two different versions of Westerburg's anonymous windmill sketch survive by this unexpected author.

Abstract

This article draws upon the correspondence of Heinrich Bullinger and the Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, in order to shine new light on the life of the German theologian Gerhard Westerburg (1486–1558) and his invention of a horse-drawn windmill in 1545. A short, fresh survey of the life of Westerburg, who had become notable as a leader of the Anabaptists in his native Cologne and ended his life as a reformed minister in Frisia, will provide the background for his engineering adventure. While on a trip to Zurich, intended to better acquaint himself with aspects of reformed theology, Westerburg showed off sketches and a model of his windmill in order to try to find funding for its development. Westerburg met with no success in Zurich, but his invention even reached the court of Henrician England, through Henry VIII's disgraced former engineer, Stephan von Haschenberg. Having been dismissed for fraud after more than a decade in the king's service, Haschenberg tried to convince Henry of the advantages of his reemployment with a list of useful inventions, including Westerburg's, who had apparently instructed Haschenberg in person how to build this wondrous windmill. Two different versions of Westerburg's anonymous windmill sketch survive by this unexpected author.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Theology
Dewey Decimal Classification:230 Christianity & Christian theology
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:29 Jan 2016 15:24
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 17:23
Publisher:Maney Publishing
ISSN:1357-4175
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13574175.2015.1099942
Related URLs:http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/10.1080/13574175.2015.1099942 (Publisher)

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