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Nicholas of Basel


Layman, heretical Beghard; d. Vienna, c. 1395. Preaching in the Rhine region near Basel (see beguines and beghards), he proclaimed himself inspired and insisted that he was endowed with authority to govern the use of episcopal and priestly powers. He taught that submission to his direction was necessary for attaining spiritual perfection and that his followers could not sin even though they committed the worst crimes and disobeyed both Church and pope. K. Schmidt considered him the author of the Bericht von der Bekehrung, Taulers (ed. Strasbourg 1875), which attributed the conversion of Johannes tauler (130061) to the Gottesfreund vom Oberland (Friend of God of the Upper Rhine), whom Schmidt identified as Nicholas of Basel. This theory has now been generally abandoned. Nicholas was burned at the stake with two of his followers.

Bibliography: h. denifle, "Der Gottesfreund vom Oberland und Nikolaus von Basel," Historisch-politische Blätter für das katholische Deutschland 75 (1875) 1738, 93122, 245266, 340354. e. w. mcdonnell, Beguines and Beghards in Medieval Culture (New Brunswick, N.J. 1954). w. mÜller, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:981982.

[a. condit]

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