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Analyze The Causes Of And The Responses To The Peasants Revolts In The German States 1524 1526

933 words - 4 pages

Reactions to Peasant RevoltsDuring a short two year period of the 16th century, the peasant class formed groups to challenge the power and argue for freedom. Dialogue turned into violence and principles such as the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants turned to pillage throughout the German States of the Holy Roman Empire (Doc.2). The impact was felt everywhere but in the end the uprising led to over 100,000 deaths and not much change. The peasants began the fight by arguing against being treated unfairly through actions that were imposed on them by the nobility. The nobility reacted to the peasants' claims out of fear over the potential loss of their "workforce" and their power.The peasants were unhappy with the decisions made by the nobles. They were also mobilized by religious preaching. They argued that since Christ gave his blood for all people not just the rich (Doc. 3) they should be treated as brothers. They felt that they shouldn't be forced to do more work without compensation (Doc. 2). At first, people in positions of power saw reason in the ideas that the peasants advanced. As an example, Caspar Nützel, a town councilor with power, opposed the tactics of the peasants but stated that it is highly unchristian and unreasonable to take from them. He recognized the obligation of the nobles to "aid, defend and rule rather than fleece (Doc. 9). However some peasants did act rather more violently than was necessary by plundering and attacking towns and villages. On rare occasions the peasants were actually helped by commoners who opened the gates to let them attack (Doc. 5). The peasants' main objective was to be released from serfdom. They wanted the nobility to be charitable and not use them entirely for their personal needs because they felt that the rich should share with the poor (Doc. 8).The clergy like the rest of the population was divided. They didn't pick one side as a whole but there were individuals who campaigned strongly for both sides. Two powerful clerics who had incredibly different views on the peasant revolts were Thomas Müntzer and Martin Luther. Thomas Müntzer was an ex follower of Luther. He highly encouraged these revolts saying that they should strike fast and hard because it is the will of God (Doc. 6). It was his leadership that aligned the efforts of the peasants to Lutheran teaching (Doc. 1), even though the founder of Lutheranism, Martin Luther, argued against Müntzer. Luther accused Müntzer of doing the work of the devil and compelling peasants to rob and murder and commit all sorts of other evil deeds (Doc. 7). The reasons for Luther's strong statements were because he had been excommunicated and needed the support of the nobility to...

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