The German Peasants' War of 1524-26 was the greatest popular uprising in European history before the French Revolution. Its significance is heightened by the contemporary struggle for religious renewal in the Reformation, which had a decisive influence on its course. Yet very little writing in English has discussed the Peasants' War in detail. This volume traces the war through contemporary documents, both published and original, for the English-speaking reader in translation. It gives generous coverage to the causes and course of the revolt, and to its ideological mainsprings and forms of organization. At the same time it illustrates the authorities' response, the role of towns in the revolt, and the sociological variety of the participants.
The main political theories inspired by the revolt receive full treatment, and the volume concludes with detailed coverage of the attempts to suppress the insurrection and its political and social aftermath. Accompanying the selection of 162 documents is an extended introduction, which traces the main issues facing historians in seeking to understand the revolt: it also provides thumbnail sketches of the course of the Peasants' War in the five main areas of rebellion. The volume includes eight maps for convenient reference and a select bibliography for further reading.
This study will be of particular interest to undergraduate and graduate students of history, politics, religion, sociology, and anthropology taking courses on early modern Europe, revolutions and social movements, peasant studies, the transition from feudalism to capitalism, and the Reformation.