Approximately 2,500 Anabaptists were martyred by Protestants and Catholics in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe for treason to Church and State because of their rejection of infant baptism and denial of most of the tenets of traditional Christian doctrine. They were consequently subjected to the Inquisition, both the Catholic Inquisition and the Protestant Inquisition. Those dissidents who refused to recant were handed over to the State as incorrigible, and were executed as subversives and traitors. Their surviving brethren compiled stories of those who suffered and died for their faith into martyr books. The most historically and culturally significant of these, The Bloody Theater—more commonly known as Martyrs Mirror—was assembled by the Dutch Mennonite minister Thieleman van Braght and published in 1660.
Martyrs Mirror was designed to teach believers how to live a proper Christian life. Accounts of the martyrs were intended to help remind readers of things that mattered, thus inspiring them to greater faithfulness. This iconic text remains a tool of revival, stimulating new life in the communities and people who read it by revitalizing Anabaptist ideals and values, in opposition to Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and other mainstream churches that teach paedobaptism. Today, next to the Bible, it is the single most important text to Anabaptists—Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. Even today, the words and deeds of these martyred Christians are referenced in sermons, Sunday school lessons, and history books. It holds sacred status in contemporary Amish and Mennonite households. In some Anabaptist communities, it is passed to new generations as a wedding or graduation gift.
The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians: Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, And Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From The Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660 (biblerays.com) pdf.
The Anabaptist Martyrs Mirror in the Past and For Today, Dr. Jeremy M. Bergen, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Conrad Grobel University College, University of Waterloo, Canada (strasbourginstitute.org)