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Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli

Zwingli's Relationships in Glarus

In his biography of the reformer Huldrych Zwingli, Oskar Farner notes that the Zwinglis - like probably the Wilhelm Wild - were originally not from the village Wildhaus, but probably moved from their ancestral seat of Alt St. Johann further down in the Toggenburg valley.


The progenitor of the Wild family, Johann Wilhelm, had been born in Wildhaus at about the same time as Huldrych Zwingli. As clearly evidenced by the documents of 1544, the son of Johann Wilhelm, Claus Wilhelm named Wild got married to Anna, the daughter of the older brother of the Reformer, Claus Zwingli.


Claus Zwingli was born in Wildhaus in 1483 and married Dorothea Maurer. Claus and Dorothea Zwingli had four children based on existing records: Bartholome, Katharina, Adelheid and Anna (the later wife of Claus Wilhelm named Wild).


Based on the entry in the Glarner Genealogiewerk of Johann Jakob Kubly-Müller it was repeatedly claimed that Claus Wilhelm (Wild) married in 1539 Anna Zwingli, the sister of the Reformer Huldrych Zwingli. However, the year of birth of the wife of Claus Wilhelm and the entry in a document from 1544 is more likely for the daughter of the older brother of the reformer, Claus Zwingli. Thus, the wife of Claus Wilhelm (Wild) is more the niece of the reformer than the sister, as originally assumed.


The claim of the genealogist Kubly-Mueller that Anna Wilhelm (Wild) is a sister of the reformer, could have sprung from a confusion with that other sister of Ulrich Zwingli with the same first name, who had come to Glarus thirty years earlier and settled there before.


Accordingly, Claus Wilhelm (Wild) married in 1539 Anna Zwingli, daughter of Claus Zwingli (1483-1564), the elder brother of Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531). That again results in the fact that all descendants of Claus Wilhelm Wild and Anna Zwingli have the same progenitor as Ulrich Zwingli and are therefore closely related with the Swiss reformer (great-uncle).


Field map of the interest record book of the municipality Wildhaus. The map shows that the farm houses of the Zwingli family members were very close to the farm houses of Johann Wilhelm (Wild) and his son Claus Wilhelm (Wild).

Family Relationship between the Wild and the Zwingli Family

Johann Ulrich Zwingli was the father of the reformer Ulrich (Huldrych) Zwingli

Both Claus Zwingli and his son-in-law Claus Wilhelm were serfs of Prince Abbot Diethelm Blarer von Wartensee, then abbot of the St. Gallen Monastery.


We can only guess about the motives for the emigration of the families from the Toggenburg. But it should have been obvious that the desire was great to withdraw from the increasing attacks of the abbess against the reformed residents and to move to the nearby, already mostly reformed Glarus.


The serf could not easily leave the territory on its own. This is precisely where the personal dependence of the serf is expressed. Anyone who wanted to get rid of the serfdom therefore had to ask the Prince Abbot and redeem himself. Those who did not comply with their obligations to emigrate were searched for and had to pay a penalty tax. Until such payment was made, the Prince Abbot had the right to confiscate resp. freeze his property.


The confirmation that he had properly paid the fee for the release, the body's own was confirmed in a so-called "Losbrief" (redemption charter).


The Zwinglimuseum in Zurich has two documents attesting the emigration of the family of Claus Zwingli and Claus Wilhelm (Wild). According to these two documents, Claus Wilhelm (Wild) has verifiably emigrated from Toggenburg to Glarus in late autumn 1544 together with his father-in-law. The fee for the release was paid in cash. About the amount of the purchase sum nothing has been handed down.

Would you like to know whether you are related with Ulrich Zwingli? 

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