Winkelers a sect existing in Strasburg towards; the end of the 14th century. Their teachings and usages resembled those of the contemporary Waldenses, though with some divergences; but it is probable that the sect was of native growth, and originated in the increasing sense of need for an improvement in religious teaching, which existed in the consciousness of the people. Its members sustained communication with those of other similar associations in different cities along the Rhine and in Wurtemberg and Switzerland. They rejected, on the authority of the Bible, all mariolatry and saints'- worship, the use of images, the priesthood, and the doctrines of meritorious works and purgatory.
They wished to restore the worship of God in spirit and truth. They made use of lay-teachers who were required to be unmarried and unencumbered with property, and who itinerated continuously. The teachers were supported by the members of the sect, whose confessions they also received and upon whom they imposed penances. In their assemblies it was customary to offer prayer, read from books, and preach. They attended mass and confessed minor offenses to the Romish priests for the sake of peace. In Strasburg laborers and artisans composed the sect, master Johann von Blumstein — later, after he had renounced their errors, syndic of the city — being its most prominent member. A number of Beguins were also among its members. They were not disposed to deal aggressively with the Church, and were content to meet in the secrecy of private houses, but the fear of being discovered sometimes led them into crime. In 1374 a Winkeler, who had returned to the Church, was murdered by direction of the sect, which paid a certain sum for the deed and submitted to undergo the penance imposed by its rulers. At another time the inquisitor, Johann Arnoldi, was so emphatically threatened with death in the confessional that he fled the city. In 1400, however, thirty-two members, both men and women, were arrested and tortured. Twenty-six of them acknowledged their connection with the sect, and were banished from the city and diocese, under the penalty of death by fire if they should return. The documents belonging to the trial are yet in existence, and are given in Rohrich's Mittheilungen aus der Geschichte der evang. Kirche des
Elsasses (Strasburg, 1855), 1:3 sq. Neither Winkeler nor Waldense was ever found in Strasburg after this trial. See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.