Peasant War of 1626

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Peasant War of 1626

 

a revolt in Upper Austria, one of the largest peasant uprisings during the Thirty Years’ War.

The underlying cause of the Peasants’ War of 1626 was an increase in the feudal exploitation of the peasantry; the immediate cause was the special situation in which Austria found itself during the Thirty Years’ War. Upper Austria had been handed over in 1620 by Emperor Ferdinand II to Maximilian the Bavarian for his aid in crushing the Czechs at Bilá Hora. The population of Upper Austria, especially the peasantry, was subjected to intolerably heavy taxes collected by Bavarian authori-ties, the coercive Counter-Reformation they conducted, and the burdensome billetings of Bavarian soldiers. Most of the insurgents were peasants, although in the 1626 war townspeople and even some of the Protestant nobility took part.

In May and early June the insurgents, having formed a large and comparatively well-organized and well-armed force under the leadership of Stefan Fadinger, seized almost all of Upper Austria. Occupying castles and monasteries, the peasants destroyed feudal documents and appropriated their overlords’ property and arms. Catholic clergy, Bavarian officials, and many Catholic nobles fled the country.

However, after Fadinger perished from wounds received during the siege of Linz (the main city of Upper Austria, where the Bavarian governor had taken refuge), Ferdinand II was able to exploit conflicts in the ranks of the insurgents to persuade them to negotiate. He used the time he gained to shift troops from the front into the countryside. The uprising was crushed in December 1626 by troops of the Catholic League and A. Wallenstein. The last battles were extremely fierce. Recollections of the Peasant War of 1626 are preserved in folklore.

REFERENCE

Stieve, F. Der oberósterreichische Bauernaufstand des Jahres 1626, vols. 1-2. Munich, 1891.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.