German Peasants War, Pfalz 1525

A.) Prehistory

See German Peasants War, 1524-1526
The Kurpfalz (Electoral Palatinate) was the core territory in a political fragmented region on the middle Rhine, extending to both banks of the river. While the name "Pfalz", since 1815, exclusively refers to a region on the left bank of the river, prior to 1789 it also extended to the right bank (the residences of the Counts Palatine, Heidelberg and later Mannheim, both were located here). The Prince-Archbishopric of Mainz and the Margraviate of Baden had their core territories within the region; among the minor territories in the region were the Princebishoprics of Worms and Speyer, the immediate cities of Worms, Speyer and Landau. Neighbouring areas - Swabia and Franconia - were also affected by the rebellion. As elsewhere, the peasants of the area suffered from increased taxation as well as demands by the nobility and the monasteries for corvee labour; in Baden, the Princebishopric of Speyer and around Landau peasants took up arms. They were uplifted by Martin Luther's bible translation; the slogan "when Adam dug and eve span, where was then the nobleman ?" questioned not only the authority of the church, but also feudal social hierarchy.

B.) The Revolt

On April 9th, peasants in Baden, near Durlach, took up arms; on April 19th peasants in the Princebishopric of Speyer forced the Bishop to concede free sermons and the election of pastors by the parishioners; then they disbanded. On April 29th the Baden peasants adopted the Peasant Declaration of Bruchrain (Bruhrain).
In May the peasants again formed hordes, trying to persuade the burghers of several cities to join in. Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and Pfeddersheim followed their appeal; Worms, Speyer and Landau did not. The peasants destroyed a number of castles and monasteries, among them Frankenthal. The principal fortress of the Princebishopric of Speyer, the Kästenburg near Hambach, held out. Elector Ludwig V. Count Palatine promised to convene an assembly in which their demands would be debated; instead he went to the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate), assembled an armed force. The rebel peasants on the right bank of the Rhine had surrendered to him on May 27th. On June 23rd/24th, Count Ludwig V. crushed a rebel force 8,000 strong in the Battle of Pfeddersheim. More than four thousand peasants were slain, their leaders executed on Pfeddersheim market square.

Geschichte von Pfeddersheim, from Homepage Pfeddersheim, in German
Geschichte der Stadt Landau in der Pfalz, from Mazzarella Landau, in German
Geschichte der Stadt Worms, by Peter Strohm, in German
Ludwig V., from Genealogie Mittelalter, in German
Die Geschichte Dielheims (Princebishopric Speyer), by Harald Gomille, in German
Der Kaiserdom zu Speyer, German language timeline of the history of Speyer Cathedral
Historisches, from Bad Mingolsheim
Speyer Domschatz, from Bistum Speyer, in German
Geschichte von Malsch, from CDU Malsch
Friedrich Engels, The Peasant War in Swabia and Franconia, from Marx Engels Archive
REFERENCE Mark Greengrass, The Longman Companion to the European Reformation c.1500-1618, Harlow (Essex): Longman 1998, pp.75-81, KMLA Lib.Sign. 274.06 GB 121

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 25th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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