Peasants' War


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Peasants' War,

1524–26, rising of the German peasants and the poorer classes of the towns, particularly in Franconia, Swabia, and Thuringia. It was the climax of a series of local revolts that dated from the 15th cent. Although most of the peasants' demands were economic or political rather than religious, the Reformation sparked the explosion. When the peasants heard the church attacked by Martin LutherLuther, Martin,
1483–1546, German leader of the Protestant Reformation, b. Eisleben, Saxony, of a family of small, but free, landholders. Early Life and Spiritual Crisis

Luther was educated at the cathedral school at Eisenach and at the Univ.
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 and other reformers and listened to traveling preachers expound such doctrines as the priesthood of all believers, they concluded that their cause had divine support and that their grievances would be redressed. At Stühlingen, near the Swiss border, a revolt broke out in 1524. The peasants of Swabia and Franconia organized armies, and within a year the war spread over W and S Germany. Aid was given by some discontented nobles, such as Florian Geyer, Götz von BerlichingenBerlichingen, Götz von
, 1480–1562, German knight and adventurer. The head of a band of free soldiers, he lost (1504) his right hand in the battle of Landshut and wore an iron one in its place. His forays against various cities earned him popular fame.
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, and Ulrich I, dispossessed duke of WürttembergWürttemberg
, former state, SW Germany. Württemberg was formerly also spelled Würtemberg and Wirtemberg. The former state bordered on Baden in the northwest, west, and southwest, on Hohenzollern and Switzerland (from which it was separated by Lake Constance) in
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, as well as by large numbers of townsmen. A program called the Twelve Articles of the Peasantry listed among the demands liberty to choose their own pastors, relief from the lesser tithes, abolition of serfdom, the right to fish and hunt, restoration of inclosed common lands, abolition of death duties, impartiality of the courts, and restriction of the demands of landlords to their just feudal dues. These articles were modified variously to suit local conditions. Some atrocities by the peasants (e.g., the massacre of Weinsberg) marked the war, but those committed by their enemies were worse. The revolt received the blessing of the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli and in Thuringia was led by the radical Anabaptist leader Thomas MünzerMünzer or Müntzer, Thomas
, c.1489–1525, radical German Protestant reformer. During his studies at Leipzig (1518) Münzer fell under the influence of Martin Luther.
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. Martin Luther, however, condemned the revolt, thus contributing to its eventual defeat. Lacking unity and firm leadership, the peasant forces were crushed (1525) largely by the army of the Swabian LeagueSwabian League,
association of Swabian cities and other powers in SW Germany for the protection of trade and for regional peace. The Swabian League of 1488–1534 is the best known of the long series dating from the 14th cent.
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. It is estimated that 100,000 peasants were killed. In Austria, where the revolt continued until 1526, the peasants won some concessions, but in most areas they suffered continued or increased restrictions and had to pay tribute. The peasants' defeat dissuaded further attempts by the peasantry to improve their social and political position.
References in periodicals archive ?
[19] Stayer, James M., The German Peasants' War and Anabaptist Community of Goods, McGillQueen's University Press, Montreal 1991.
Much within this framework will be well known to readers, with the Diet of Worms, Peasants' War, Marburg Colloquy, and Diet of Augsburg all serving as familiar touchstones and inflection points along Luther's trajectory as a public figure and leader of religious reform.
They consist of entries on the major faith traditions, including Zoroastrianism, Greek and Roman gods, Celtic and Norse gods, Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, and Sikhism; the religious dimensions of major wars and conflicts, such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Cold War, World War I, World War II, and the medieval European crusades against Middle Eastern Islam; religious aspects of smaller wars and conflicts, such as the Anglo-Sikh Wars, the Balkan Wars, the Bishops' Wars, and the German Peasants' War; and key battles, leaders, philosophers, and theologians, as well as weapons.
In this way Goertz rejects the view of earlier Lutheran church historians that Muntzer abandoned his original mystical message to become a revolutionary in the Peasants' War. Goertz also challenges the view of post-World War II German Marxists that in his last year Muntzer concluded that he must first transform external political and social conditions as a precondition for the inward religious renewal of his followers.
Among the topics explored are: the nature and significance of child trauma in the past, contextualizing violence in Neolithic Britain, a bioarchaeological study of violence in the Roman world, regional and temporal variations in violence and warfare in the prehistoric San Francisco Bay area, reconstructing the execution and burial of 41 brigands in Mechelen during the Flemish Peasants' War in 1798, the paleopathological study of Napoleonic mass graves discovered in Russia, and patterns of peri-mortem trauma in skeletons recovered from mass graves from the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.
The European religious wars proceeded for nearly 120 years starting with the German Peasants' War in 1524 and ending with the wars of the kingdoms of England and Scotland and the Confederation of Wales in 1648.
The book begins with a "Historical Overview of the Reformation." As is the case elsewhere, the structure can seem confusing and arbitrary, with a brief account of medieval heresy and humanism followed by a discussion of Luther, and then three pages (out of thirteen) of very detailed narrative on the Peasants' War, then sections on Jews and women.
The year 1525 saw outbreaks of rebellion in England in reaction to the Amicable Grant, and the German Peasants' War was at its height, a source of great concern to the English king as well as to Wolsey.
In 1525 the Peasants' War, precipitated by the liberative aspects of the Reformation, was at its height in Germany.
Prof Doug Miller, who holds the chair of Workers' Rights in Fashion at Northumbria University's School of Design, designed and crafted the chess pieces to mark the German Peasants' War of 1525.
(10) Most emphasize the Peasants' War as a decisive turning point in the Reformation's appeal to rural populations, frequently pointing to the rebellion's failure as a watershed moment in suppressing rural zeal for reform.