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  • 1 European University Institute, Florence, Italy
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While the Anabaptist movement was still fluid in the early 1520s, it soon crystallized into factions with sharp differences. Although the Moravian Anabaptists never succeeded in creating common doctrines and practices, the Central and East European experience was not merely a marginal part of the great Anabaptist story. Out of these divergent tendencies grew a strong sect that survived exile through a radical social experiment. Hutterite colonies, settled in a hostile environment, flourished for a long period while other sects disappeared within a few years. The factors that determined the advance and survival of the Hutterites point beyond religious motives. This social experiment was dependent on the integrated social structure enabling them to cope with an aggressive environment without assimilating. Various epochs of the Hutterite history show that communal life was never a uniform and perfect experience, but variants of the structure persisted in the colonies as they evolved in their local circumstances.

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