The events leading up to the killings began in 1534, when a group of Anabaptists who opposed the Catholic Church forcefully established their own rule in Münster. They believed that all property was communal, and they attracted many with their promises of sharing food and wealth equally.
But all wasn't well in paradise. After the original Anabaptist leader, Jan Matthys, was murdered by the city's former bishop, 25-year-old John of Leiden took his place. He ruled with absolute power and surrounded himself with wealth and as many as 16 wives. Meanwhile, much of the city was dying of starvation.
This drawing depicts the brutal events. In the background, you can see three cages hanging from the cathedral.