This Elizabeth was of a noble family, and had in her youth been put by her parents into the convent of Tieng, near Lier near East Friesia, there to learn various arts, and also the Latin language. There she accidently, or rather through the direction of God, came into possession of a Latin Testament, by the constant reading of which and meditating upon it she obtained so much knowledge of the will or God, that she became distressed on account of her state of life, and seeing no chance to alter her life according to the rule of said Word in the convent, much less under the parental roof, she resolved, after much conflict and reflection, secretly to escape from the convent, trusting to the fatherly providence of Almighty God for help and guidance. To this end, she made an agreement with a milkmaid of the convent, that she should change clothes with her, and thus assist her to escape from the convent early in the morning, in the guise of a milkmaid; which having been accomplished, she first came to Lier, and without her knowing it, to a certain house, in which there lived Anabaptists, who upon learning her circumstances and condition, took her in, and instructed her still more fully in the way of God, and, after some time, fearing that search might be made for Elizabeth, brought her to Leeuwarden, and there left her with a pious sister of the Anabaptistic church, named Hadewijk, with whom she was afterward apprehended.
This Hadewijk was married to a certain drummer of the company quartered at Leeuwarden, who, having neither to go marching, nor to mount guard, etc., worked in a certain shop to gain a livelihood for his wife and children. There was working there together with him a very pious Anabaptist brother* who at that time was put in bonds and condemned to death for the sake of his religion. Said company having been ordered to the place of execution, when this pious brother was to be offered up, to form a circle around him, to prevent an uproar, the aforesaid drummer objected to serve in. his capacity as a drummer at that time and under such circumstances which he also indicated to his wife Hadewijk, who opposed him in this matter, and advised him to proceed in the discharge of his duty. This then he resolved to do; but as he was first also to get himself partially in. toxicated, in order to feel less of compassion for the innocently doomed man, but this intoxication, instead of depriving him of his sense of compassion, only increased it, and he became so bold that he told the spectators of the piety and virtues of this martyr so well known to him, why he was so maltreated, how wickedly the authorities, instigated by the clergy, acted in this matter, and that it were better to apprehend and treat after this manner, wicked men, whoremongers, adulterers, unrighteous, and such like, of whom there were plenty in the city, yea, even among the clergy. Some laughed, others laid it to heart; some said, “The drummer is drunk;” others, “He is crazy,” etc. But when he had become sober and was himself again, he reflected on what he had done, and what in all probability he now had to expect, and resolved to leave the city of Leeuwarden, his company, and the Roman church. H’e entreated his wife to go with him, but she could not approve of it, and after his departure, never knew whither he had gone. But coming to reflection some time after, she inquired after the Anabaptists, found opportunity to attend the exhortations, embraced the faith, and was not only baptized upon her faith, but also suffered herself to be apprehended together with Elizabeth. Being confined in a separate room from Elizabeth, it was announced to her that on the following day she should be examined and have to defend herself in a considerable
*It is supposed that this was probably Sikke Snijder.
number of articles, which caused her exceeding great distress and anxiety of heart, especially since she could neither read nor write, and was more pious and willing than experienced. Hence, she earnestly importuned God, that-the exceeding good and man-loving Father would be pleased to look with compassion upon her, His poor handmaiden, whose inability and unfitness He knew best, and not to try her above her ability, but to deliver and save -her by His divine hand, whereupon a voice came to her while she was thus engaged in prayer, exclaiming, “Hadewijk I” Looking up and around her, and seeing no one, she continued in her fervent prayer. A second time she heard the voice, but again seeing no one, she persevered in her supplications until the same voice said to her the third time, “Hadewi jk, I tell thee, come out!” Seeing the door open, she put on her hood, and went out of the prison, but did not know where to conceal herself. She went provisionally into- the church, where she soon heard those who came there relate that the gates of the city had been closed because a certain Anabaptist woman had escaped from prison, no one knowing how, there being great reason to suspect sorcery in the matter, for which reason very diligent search was being made for her everywhere. Just as she left the church she heard the drummer in the street exclaim that whoever could point out her person, should receive one hundred guilders, but whoever concealed her should forfeit one hundred and fifty guilders, which increased her fear more and more. Trusting herself by no means into her own house, and yet compelled to seek shelter somewhere, she went to the house of her former master and mistress, whom she, before she was married, had served very faithfully for sometime, and who therefore thought much of her. These she entreated whether they would not please give her shelter in this distress, but they refused to do it; whereupon she went away as in despair, and came before the priest’s house, where lived a certain half-witted fellow, well-known to her, whom she, as he was standing at the door, addressed, asking him to conceal her; which he did, taking her up into the garret, and providing her with food and drink; but in the night he came to her, and made indecent advances to her. Here the embarrassment was greater than ever; she had to deal with one who was strong of body and passions, with whom reasoning had little influence; if she made an outcry her life was in danger; she therefore lifted up her soul, and betook herself to her Redeemer, and called upon Him for help in this great distress, and also entreated this fellow to desist from so evil a deed, because it would be adultery and she had a husband; and adulterers and adulteresses had to burn forever in hell; whereupon he left her in peace and went away, saying, “The jade is too wise in the Scriptures; I have no chance with her.” The next day he went to the Zuypmarket, to Hadewijk’s brother-in-law, who daily brought buttermilk there for sale, and told him that he had, unknown to anyone, concealed his sister-in-law in the priest’s house, and advised him to come with his boat to the back stairs of the priest’s house, there to take her into the boat, and carry her out of the city through the floodgate, which he did, and thus this lamb Hadewijk, through the miraculous hand of God, escaped the claws of the ravening wolves, fled to Emden, and lived the remainder of her life in the meetinghouses of the Anabaptists, where she fell asleep in the Lord.
Remmeltje Wubbers, from whom I have this account, heard it only frequently from her parents and others, but also from the woman who attended Hadewijk in her last sickness, to whom Hadewijk related it with her own lips.