The German Peasants’ War 1524–26

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Map Code: Ax01558

The German Peasants’ War lasted between 1524–26 and was the largest uprising in Europe until the French Revolution. It began near Stuhlingen and Schaffhausen on 24 June 1524 and spread throughout Germany, with its last uprisings in the Tyrol on 3 July 1526. Inspired by the Reformation, the peasants believed in Martin Luther’s interpretation of Divine Law: it is God’s will that all men are equal. Scorched by an agrarian depression in the late Middle Ages and frustrated by repression at the hands of landlords and nobility, they demanded freedom from tyranny and the right to self-government. Although Luther acknowledged that many of their points were just, he failed to defend them and later called upon the nobles to put out the ‘great fire’ that was laying waste to Germany. Betrayed by Luther, the peasants were crushed by the army of the Swabian League, with 100,000 peasants killed.

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