Men’s Breakfast Learns History of Münster, Germany

Submitted by Brian McHattie

The February Men’s Breakfast meeting featured Tobermory resident, Rainer Hoffman-Taylor speaking about the place he grew up: Münster, Westphalia in north-west, Germany, near the border with Holland. Before you ask, it is not known for its cheese! There are 7 or 8 other Münsters in the country and at least one of those is the source of cheese we love.

The town was established in 793 A.D. by the local Catholic bishop with construction of a monastery, becoming a town in 1170. Conflicts around religion would end up defining the town over many hundreds of years. In 1534 a local Anabaptist prophet, Jon Matthys following Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, made the first attempt at challenging the Roman Catholic religion, soon after suffering a defeat and losing his head at the hands of the Bishop’s army. He was soon followed by a particularly ambitious second reformer, John of Leiden, who named himself a totalitarian King who introduced polygamy, promptly finding himself 16 wives. Once again the Bishop responded, this time killing the King and his two key supporters in the main square and transferring their dead bodies to three cages mounted on the steeple of St. Lamberts Church, cages that remain today as a reminder in case anyone else gets any radical ideas.

In brighter, less partisan times, seen as a neutral city, Münster served as the centre to end the bloody 30 Year War that raged across Europe, killing 800 M people directly and from disease. Diplomats from a number of countries were housed in Münster for several years negotiating the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia in the old City Hall that has been preserved today complete with portraits of the diplomats.

Today it is a city of 300,000 people, including 60,000 students at the large university. A key feature is the former fortification wall that has been dismantled and turned into a treed promenade loved by walkers and cyclists alike. Known as Germany’s cycling city, Münster was honoured as the most liveable city in the world in 2004. What a great place to grow up! 

The next Men’s Breakfast is Saturday March 23, 2019 at the Tobermory Community Centre. Breakfast is served at 9am, with coffee ready by 8am. The guest speaker will be Acting Superintendent, John Festarini from Bruce Peninsula National Park / Fathom Five National Marine Park. For Additional information please contact Rainer at 519-596-8359. The Men’s Breakfast is open to all men in Northern Bruce, please join us for breakfast and an interesting speaker.