Knights Uprising of 1522–23

Knights’ Uprising of 1522–23


an uprising of the German lower nobility against princely authority in the context of the upsurge in the national Reformation movement in Germany on the eve of the Peasant War of 1524–26.

The cause of the uprising was the deterioration in the economic and political position of the knighthood under the conditions of the incipient disintegration of the feudal system and the reinforcement of the authority of the princes in the politically fragmented country. From the late 15th century the knightly opposition advocated the reactionary and Utopian ideal of organizing a united universal empire dependent on serfdom and headed by an emperor who would be under the control of the knighthood. In this way the knights attempted without success to revive the political role of the lower nobility by means of narrow estate-based policies. U. von Hutten articulated the interests of the knighthood in his writings.

In August 1522, at a congress in Landau, the knights of the Upper Rhine, Swabia, and Franconia created an empire-wide association of the knightly estate, headed by F. von Sickingen. In early September 1522, Sickingen’s knightly force set out against the archbishop and elector of Trier. Without the support of the burghers of Trier or the support of other cities or even the bulk of the knighthood, which at the crucial moment did not dare to oppose the princes openly, Sickingen was defeated. The united troops of the secular and ecclesiastical princes captured Sickingen’s castle of Landstuhl in April 1523, and Sickingen was mortally wounded. The knights’ uprising was suppressed, and reprisals were taken against the participants.


Marx, K. “Pis’mo F. Lassaliu, 19 aprelia 1859 g.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 29.
Engels, F. “Pis’mo F. Lassaliu, 18 maia 1859 g.” Ibid.
Engels, F. “Krest’ianskaia voina v Germanii.” Ibid., vol. 7.
Meyer, M. Die Bewegungen des niederen A dels im Zeitalter der frühbürgerlichen Revolution …, fasc. 1–2. Leipzig, 1965.