Upper Austria, Peasants' War 1625-1626

A.) Prehistory of the Conflict

In 1620 Duke Mazimilian of Bavaria had financially and militarily supported Emperor Ferdinand in the recovery of Bohemia. In return, Emperor Ferdinand granted Upper Austria to Duke Maximilian as a pawn. The population of Upper Austria was mostly Lutheran; the Bavarian administration introduced the Counterreformation, offering the protestants the choice - conversion or emigration.

B) The Rebellion

In May 1625, enraged Lutheran peasants appeared in front of Frankenburg castle, demanding announced orders being taken back. The Bavarian commander promised them amnesty and invited them to hold talks; then he had their leaders throw dice, and had 17 out of 26 hanged (Frankenburg Game of Dice). This betrayal caused c. 40,000 peasants of Upper Austria to take up arms. Lead by Stefan Fadinger and Christoph Zeller, they took control of the towns of Wels, Steyr, Freistadt and Kremsmünster. On May 21st the peasants defeat a force commanded by Count Adam von Herberstorff; about 600 soldiers fell in battle. Between 8,000 and 10,000 peasants laid siege to Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, but failed to take the city. In August, Imperial forces began a counteroffensive. Both rebel leaders died in combat; the rebellion was crushed in November 1626 (Battles of Emlinger Holz, Nov. 9th; of Pinnsdorf, Nov. 15th, of Vöcklabruck Nov. 18th, of Wolfsegg Nov. 20th by Bavarian General von Pappenheim.

C.) Legacy

In 1628 Upper Austria reverted to Habsburg rule. Pressure upon protestants to convert continued; many openly converted, but continued to practise Lutheran belief in secret (crypto-protestants).

Frankenburger Würfelspiel (Frankenburg Game of Dice), from aeiou
Peasant Wars, from aeiou
Stephan Fadinger, from aeiou
Christoph Zeller, from aeiou
Der Bauernstand anno 1626 und das Mühlviertel, by Karl-Heinz Auburger, in German
Eferding - eine Stadt mit Geschichte, from Eferdinger Landl, in German
Graf Pappenheim, from Wer war wer im Dreissigjährigen Krieg ?, in German; from EB 1911
Maximilian of Bavaria, from Military History Encyclopedia on the Web, scroll down
REFERENCE Walter Kleindel, Österreich, Daten zur Geschichte und Kultur, Wien : Ueberreuter 1978

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on June 29th 2003, last revised on November 18th 2004

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