German Peasants War, Salzburg 1525-1526

A.) Prehistory

See German Peasants War, 1524-1525
As elsewhere, the Salzburg peasants, suffering from increased taxation as well as demands by the nobility and the monasteries for corvee labour, had taken 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 May 8th 1525, the peasants in Salzburg rebelled; the miners of Gastein joined in. The revolt spread beyond the borders of the Princebishopric of Salzburg, into adjacent Carinthia and Styria, both ruled by the Habsburg dynasty. On June 4th the rebels seized control of the city of Salzburg and issued the Gastein Articles. Temporarily, the peasants controlled Salzburg as well as parts of Carinthia, Carniola and Upper Austria. On July 3rd 1525, the Styrians joined the rebellion; at Schladming in Styria, the forces of Landeshauptmann (Captain) Dietrichstein were defeated, he himself taken prisoner, all of his soldiers who did not speak German (Croatians, Bohemians) slain. Archbishop of Salzburg Mattäus Lang von Wellenberg and the rebel leaders negotiated an agreement, which adressed several of the peasants' demands. Being promised a diet which would address their grievances, the Salzburg peasants broke off their siege of the Hohensalzberg, the bishop's fortress.
In December 1525, Archbishop Matthäus felt secure enough to act; he had a number of rebel leaders arrested and executed. The diet met in January 1526, but was dissolved without having achieved anything.
The peasants resumed their revolt, being joined by Michael Gaismair, former leader of the Tyrolean revolt, who, with his followership, had returned from Graubünden; the Salzburg and Tyrol rebels joined forces. A force of 10,000 soldiers, lead by Georg von Frundsberg, moved into Salzburg to join fight against the rebels, together with forces of the Swabian League, Austrian and the Archbishop's forces. Gaismair and his followers defeated them in a number of engagements in May and June 1526. They were finally defeated at Radstadt, a city the rebels had besieged but failed to take, in 1526; Gaismaier and a small number of followers then made their way onto Venetian territory.

C.) The Legacy

By a combination of determination to hold out, deceitful diplomacy and the usage of outside help, Princebishop Matthäus Lang von Wellenberg had outwaited and overcome the threat posed by the peasants. While the Salzburg peasantry leant toward the Lutheran Reformation, Princebishop Matthäus and his successors would remain steadfast Catholics, developing a style of absolute rule, against the protestant elements of Salzburg's population.

Michael Gaismair, from Kennen Sie ?, at Innsbruck Franzens Universität, in German; from Schützen Jugend, in German; from aeiou
Article Peasants Revolts, from aeiou
Radstadt, from Walled Town Friendship Circle
Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg (Archbishop of Salzburg), from Salzburg Info
Matthew Lang, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Bishop Remus of Chiemsee, by Bill Remus; he wrote, in 1525, a Latin language account of the Peasants War in Salzburg
Bauern und Bergknappen : Bundnisse in Tirol und Salzburg wahrend des deutschen Bauernkrieges, from ori-ginal, in German
Friedrich Engels, The Peasants' War in Thuringia, Alsace and Austria, from Marx/Engels Archive, leftist perspective
Georg von Frundsberg, from EB 1911
DOCUMENTS Legende vom Salzburger Stier (Legend of the Salzburg Bull), from Esmartmusic, in German
Portrait of Georg von Frundsberg, from St. Max Org.
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 24th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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