crime in the netherlandsa review
Over the years, there has been much discussion regarding the relationship between crime
and religious sects. How were crime justified? Where and how were the robberies
committed? In the article "Crime in the Netherlands in the sixteenth century" Janzma
studies the issue of robbery in relation to the Appelman-Batenburg group and the
followers of Johan Willems by exploring the socioeconomic and political conditions
responsible for their survival.
According to the author, the Appelman-Batenburg sect was more organized than most since
they had organized a criminal network of spies, locksmiths and goldsmiths. This would
ensure that the loot would be well hidden and new operations could be planned.
Secondly, their raids were carried out in secrecy. Since they were scattered, this allowed
the group to disperse over a greater surface area. According to the author, this was a
wise move, since it allowed the members to continue to steal while learning of the fate of
other leaders which had been caught.
On the other hand, the Johan Willem sect were more concentrated in the area around Wetzel,
Guelders and Overijssel. This group comprised mostly of people who had been members of the
Appelman-Batenburg group as well as those who had escaped the siege of Münster.Unlike the
Appelman-Batenburg sect, the John Willem group stole mostly from churches however did also
steal from houses and monasteries. However, like the Appelman-Batenburg, they did carry
out their raids in secrecy.
In addition, the author also discussed the theme of violence. Although violence was
rarely used during the raids, it was not uncommon for members to kill their victims or
even other members to avoid being recognized. In addition, the author adds that for the
Appelman-Batenburg sect, murder was also used as a ploy to not rouse the suspicion in the
neighbourhood in which they robbed.
The main difference between these two groups is seen in the way in which justification to
commit these acts were perceived. For the Appelman-Batenburg, robbery was seen only as a
temporary act. According to the author, once the town had been seized, they used it as a
base from which the sinful world could be punished. They held the view that the church
property belonged to them. The author adds that since the Appelman-Batenburg sect was