War of the Peasants

A popular uprising which started among the peasant classes of Germany in 1524, due to causes both economic and religious. As far back as 1502 and 1514, there had been local revolts prompted by the increasing exactions of the feudal lords. The declamations of Luther against monks and priests and his proclamation of evangelical liberty which were interpreted as attacks against all authority, had much influence on the latest rebellion. The peasants' demands contained a mixture of economic grievances and of religious claims, e.g., the right to appoint and dismiss their priests. Luther's attitude was equivocal, and he urged upon the princes the justice of certain demands, while he suggested to the peasants the withdrawal of others. When he saw the excesses of the peasants (more than a thousand castles and monasteries were destroyed) he turned fiercely against them, and in a pamphlet entitled "Against the robbing, murdering bands of the Peasants," he urged the Princes to exterminate the insurgents, "like so many mad dogs." He was obeyed to the letter and in the battle of Frankenhausen alone, 5000 were butchered. The revolt was virtually ended in 1525.

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