Tyrolean Peasants War, 1525-1526

A.) Prehistory

See German Peasants War, 1524-1525
As elsewhere, the Tyrolean 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.
In the Alsace, Swabia, Franconia, Thuringia, the German Peasants' Revolt already had been crushed when Michael Gaismair was charged by the Princebishopric of Brixen to negotiate with the Tyrolean rebellious peasants in 1525.

B.) The Revolt

Instead, after establishing contact with Zürich reformer Huldrych Zwingli, on May 10th 1525, when another peasant leader, Peter Passler, was to be executed, Gaismair took the lead of the Tyrolean rebels in South Tyrol; the rebels stormed the houses of the Cathedral Chapter members and the bishop's castle. Early in June the peasants, at an assembly held in Meran, adopted the 64 Articles of Meran. In June Gaismair participated in an all Tyrol diet held in Innsbruck; in August he was arrested. He escaped to Graubünden, where he formulated the Tyrolean Landesordnung (Land Ordinnance) of 1526. It foresaw the transformation of Tyrol into a republic that would include the Princebishopric of Salzburg. In the spring of 1526 he lead an armed force into the Princebishopric of Salzburg, which itself experienced a Peasants' Revolt. Here he laid siege to Archbishop M. Lang in his fortress of Hohensalzberg. Gaismair suffered defeat in the Battle of Radstadt and, with his force, withdrew onto Venetian territory.
The Swabian League decided against the Tyrolean peasants, and in 1526 the peasants were defeated (Battle of Radstadt in Salzburg).

C.) The Legacy

The Habsburg dynasty reestablished her control over Tyrol, pursuing a cautrious policy in order to avoid a repetition of the revolt. The Tyrolean mining industry had suffered considerable damage (Schwaz); Tyrol provided little revenue to the Habsburgs.
For her loyalty to the Archbishop, Radstadt received an extended privilege.
Gaismaier went into exile, served as mercenary in Tuscany in 1527, finaly settled in Padua; in 1532 he was assassinated there.

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
Bønder og Kristendommen, by Sune Wadskjær Nielsen, in Danish
Sebastian II. Sprenz, from BBKL, in German
DOCUMENTS Grievances of Pesants of Thauer and Rettenberg (Tyrol), 15 May 1525; Michael Gaismair's Territorial Constitution for the Tirol, from Documents on the Peasants' War, posted at UOregon, scroll down
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 21st 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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