Bundschuh

Bundschuh

 

the name of secret peasant alliances in southwestern Germany in the 15th and early 16th centuries. A banner with the picture of a shoe was the symbol of the peasants’ struggle against intensifying oppression by the feudal lords and princes.

The earliest data about the Bundschuh date to the 1430’s and 1440’s in the southern part of the Black Forest, Alsace, and other lands of the upper Rhine area. A Bundschuh conspiracy was discovered in Alsace in 1493. The district of the bishopric of Speyer was the center of a new Bundschuh plot in 1502, but the group’s activities extended over the entire upper Rhine area. The organization’s demands— the partition of church lands, the abolition of all feudal dues and services, and free use of communal resources— were sharply antifeudal. The plot was revealed, and the organization was crushed. However, its leader, the peasant Fritz Joss, organized a new alliance in 1513, with its center in the village of Leyen (near Freiburg). Joss was successful in recruiting into the alliance representatives of various strata of the social opposition. The Bundschuh’s demand in 1513 for the abolition of all powers except those of the emperor was essentially a call for an end to Germany’s political fragmentation. The striving of the peasants and urban plebeians for unity of action was clearly manifested in a new Bundschuh conspiracy in 1517, which embraced a large area of southwestern Germany. The propaganda of the uprising and the demands proclaimed by the Bundschuh alliances played an important role in the preparation of the Peasant War of 1524–26.

REFERENCES

Engels, F. “Krest’ianskaia voina ν Germanii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 7.
Smirin, M. Ocherki istorii politicheskoi bor’by ν Germanii pered Reformatsiei. Moscow, 1952.
Rosenkranz, A. Der Bundschuh . . . , vols. 1–2. Heidelberg, 1927.

M. M. SMIRIN

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