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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
With that said, Hendrix's portrayal of Luther occasionally slips into an apologetic tone, especially regarding the Saxon reformer's responses to the Peasants' War. The book is stronger on Luther's anti-Judaic writings from later in his life, and though Hendrix clearly regards them as marginal within Luther's larger corpus, he does not shy away from their negative long-term implications.
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.
(55) The Peasants' War lasted from 1524-6 and stemmed from religious and economic causes.
With the demise of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent purging of Marxist-Leninist defenders from East German universities, one might have expected interest in Thomas Miintzer--the eloquent leader of the Peasants' War and erstwhile standard bearer of the "early bourgeois revolution" --to quietly fade away.
In 1525 the Peasants' War, precipitated by the liberative aspects of the Reformation, was at its height in Germany.
He has created a chess set based on figures from the two sides of the conflict and will present it to the Peasants' War Museum in the city of Mhlhausen in Thuringia in former East Germany, which was at the centre of peasant uprisings.
(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.
Also notable is the beautiful two-page print of Werner Tubke's depiction of the Peasants' War contained in the center of this book (Plate E).
He starts by clearly defining what the Church actually owned at the onset of Luther's movement, and how the Peasants' War brought to the surface the ever-present issue of what to do with the wealth of the Church once that wealth was denounced.
Drawing extensively on archival sources, the six chapters of part 1, "Town and Country between Reform and Revolt," explore the complex relationships between town and country before and during the Peasants' War. The first chapter discusses the influence of radical urban preachers (Balthasar Hubmaier) and religious ideology on the alliances between towns and rebellious peasants.
In this region, the Peasants' War of 1525 was seen as the model for a struggle for freedom which still had to be waged at the beginning of the 20th century.