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The German Peasant Rebellion

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In the article “The German Peasant Rebellion”, Steven traces the origin of the peasants’ war not only the economic and social reasons alone. He claims that the roots of the rebellion were intertwined in religious, political and legal problems other than socio-economic reasons solely. The specific socio-economic grievance that took centre stage was the burden that was brought about by the lordship. Komneno cements this by explaining that hard labor services that they provided to their Lords, high housing rents, high tithes, poor accessibility to common resources and serfdom greatly contributed to war being sparked off (Komneno, 2008). Other reasons were high taxes, burdens that were exposed to them due to the development of new states and anticlericalism particularly after mixing with early Reformation’s evangelical programs.

Both articles emphasize the fact that German peasants’ war was one of the most notable rebellions to happen in the history of modern European. Komneno observes how from 1524-1525, the peasants army shortly shattered the rule of many lords, some princes and most urban governments in what they term as the central and southern locations of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus was aimed at creation revolutionary changes as part of their political program although it did not rise achieve full potential. According to the two articles, the rebellion was not only a Germany affair but it had spread to other parts like those of modern Switzerland, France, northern Italy and Austria. The peasants’ rebels had a strong admiration for urban reforms and Reformation (Kreis, 2002).

Another area in which both articles express similar views is the formation of political organization within the peasants. Komneno reiterates that they formed this in response to challenge the feudal lords. His counterpart, Steven, says that they formed the political origination by assembling communally. This was aggravated by the practices such as division of labor, access to common fields and crop rotation that the villagers had long organized. Due to this they intensified their activities with many rallies, they also formed bands and to some extend federations.

Although both articles purely talk about the same thing, there exist some few notable differences between them in terms of their scope. In the article “Germany Peasant’s War, 1524-1525”, Steven commences by giving a brief prehistory where he explains how the administration costs rose in early medieval state in early 15th century.  This he explains was because of transition in warfare that saw the rulers seek the use of expensive weapons and mercenaries other than the unpaid knights (Kreis, 2002). At the end he talks about the legacy observing that The German Peasants’ War aided in strengthening the relationship between Lutheran Princes and Lutheran Church because of Martin Luther’s open support for authorities against the aggrieved peasants. Both of these features are not observed in Komneno’ article titled “The German peasant rebellion of 1525” displays a slight difference in that other than discussing the political organization of the peasant, he talks about their goal that was of course, to counter the lordship.

Both sources justify the claims and demands that of the peasants by demonstrating the fact they being unfairly treated and oppressed. Komneno says that although part of the atrocities that were committed by peasants were detrimental, the massacre of Weinsberg for example, those that their enemies committed against them were worse. The peasants were later prohibited from hunting, fishing and chopping wood freely as they used to do. This was due to these common lands being taken over by the lords (Komneno, 2008). The Lords could also use the lands of the peasants as they wished. It reached a point when peasants could no not anything but helplessly wild game destroy their crops. The peasants’ was a justified course to fight against violation of their rights.

At the end of the article, Steven observes that authorities had changed their ways and implemented better terms of taxation. They became more careful on handling the peasants as a means of averting a repeat of the revolt. Through this the article tries to bring out that the authorities had identified where they went wrong. The peasants languishing in poverty had no other ways of fighting the lordship, the justice was against them hence this was their only justified way to fight back.  

Whenever any peasant wanted to marry, he/she had to obtain permission from the lords. As if this was not enough, peasants had to a give a marriage tax before doing so. This was a form of regulation that was aimed at regulating their population and collecting the much needed revenue to run the new administrative states. The population growth also amplified the competition for land, compromising harvests in early 1520s; the lords also wanted control the population to avoid more land being used by peasants (Komneno, 2008)..

Luther was against the revolts and condemned it calling for the authorities to crush the rebellion with no mercy. Only a few preachers such as Thomas Muntzer gave hope to the rebellion. Some of the peasants were also not of his idea of rejecting the Catholic practices of sacraments, the institution of monasteries and celibacy. This might be as well one of the reason why Luther wanted them demolished. . He termed the peasants as murderers stating that they went against the teachings of the Bible (Komneno, 2008). Luther was also disappointed at them because he says that they had promised to obey the law and instructions but later on they break the promise to rebel. He saw them as pretenders who practiced work of devil. He defended his act of condemning them by stating that he had to expose them for decided to go astray. Luther said that they deserved the double death of both body and for they caused chaos and robbed castles that was not theirs.

I don’t support Luther for his actions, his deeds was down playing the oppression they underwent in the hands of the cruel lords. Being poor, oppressed and people who the judicial system was against, they had no other way they could fight for their rights. I view their rebellion as justified because in the end, it bore fruits as some measures were put into place to avoid their being heavily taxed.

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