Graubünden (Grisons) 1525 - Rebellion against the Bishop of Chur

Graubünden (Grisons, Grigione, Grischun) was, at the begin of the 16th century, a federation consisting of three federations of Alpine communities and the city of Chur, the federation(s) dominated by free peasants. A few noble estates were scattered through the territory; the Princebishop of Chur exercised a number of rights of a territorial lord.
In 1523, Johann Comander began to preach according to the teachings of Huldrych Zwingli. The bishop being absent from his diocesis, the episcopal administration attempted to take steps against him, but Protestantism spread quickly. In 1524 the Diet of Graubünden accepted the Ilanz Articles, which accepted holding religious service in the German language. In 1525, peasants in many communities refused to pay the tithe; the episcopal bailiffs, when attempting to collect the tithe, encountered resistance. On June 16th 1525, an armed mob undertook an assault on the episcopal residence (Bishop Paul Ziegler had fled Graubünden in 1524). The burghers of Chur supported the peasants; in 1525 the city council of Chur outlawed the practice of collecting the tithe.
The acts of violence were committed by only a part of the population, the federation and her institutions were not directly involved. In the course of the events, the Federation gained the status of unchallenged territorial authority, at the expense of the Princebishops of Chur.

The conflict in Graubünden occurred at the same time as the German Peasants War 1524-1525. The rebel peasants in Graub&uum;nden were victorious, in contrast to the peasants in the rest of the area affected by this movement, a fact to be credited to the mountainous terrain, the small number of nobles residing in the area, the existence of a political representation of the (peasant) population in form of the Federation, to the military experience of peasants who have served as mercenaries in the Italian wars - 6,000 Graub&uum;nden mercenaries participated in the Battle of Pavia 1525 (War between France and the Emperor, 1521-1529).

The Reformation in the Grisons. Comander. Gallicius. Campell, from History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
DOCUMENTS Der Bundesbrief der drei Bunde, 1524 (Treaty of Confederation of the Three Federations, 1524), from UniBe, in German
REFERENCE Friedrich Pieth, Bündnergeschichte (History of Graubünden), Chur : F. Schuler 1945, pp.122-127

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First posted on March 20th 2004, last revised on November 18th 2004

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