Analyze The Causes Of And The Responses To The Peasants' Revolts In The German States, 1524–1526

1188 words - 5 pages

While Lutheran beliefs, high taxes, and serfdom caused the peasant revolts, the nobles' responses were solely based upon monetary gains and fear, while commoners had mixed reactions but were mostly against the peasants.Religious officials viewed the peasant revolts with differing views. For example, Thomas Muntzer encouraged these revolts, implying that they were God's Will (Doc 6). On the other hand, Martin Luther condemned the peasants, claiming that they were associated with the Devil (Doc 7). However, Luther's claim was influenced by his political situation. Exiled by the Edict of Worms, Luther needed the protection of nobles. Due to this, he could not support the revolts unless he ...view middle of the document...

Nobles began to transition from the open-field system to enclosures and charged high rents for their own luxurious needs. Peasants in turn, due to hunger and deprivation of economic wellbeing, began to revolt. Sebastian Lotzer talks about a contract between the peasants and the Lord (Doc 2); however, Lotzer is biased as a craftsperson and he does not want lords to force more work because he himself wants a reduced workload. The other peasants called for an equal distribution of wealth. (Doc 8). The Nobles on the other hand, believe that the Lords purchased the service of the peasants for a considerable sum of money and thus there should be neither revolts nor petition for a contract (Doc 4). The second reason was a crisis for the nobles with declining income. By 1285 inflation had become rampant (in part due to population pressures) and nobles charged rent based on customary fixed rates, based on the Feudal system, so as the price of goods and services rose (from inflation), the income of nobles remained stagnant (effectively dropping). To make matters worse, the nobles had become accustomed to a more luxurious lifestyle that required more money. To address this nobles illegally raised rents, cheated, stole, and sometimes resorted to outright violence to take what they wanted. Thirdly, kings needed money to finance wars and resorted to devaluing currency, by cutting silver and gold coins with less precious metal, which resulted in increased inflation and in the end, increased taxations. Furthermore, the social gap between rich and poor had become more extreme. The origins of this change can be traced to the 12th century and the rise of the concept of "nobility". How one dressed, behaved, manners, courtesy, how one spoke, what one ate, education, all became a part of the noble class making them distinct from others. By the 14th century the nobles had indeed become very different in their behavior, appearance and values from those "beneath." In urban centers, the early capitalist enterprises connected with long-distance trade and the textile industry had given rise to an urban underclass who were prone to riot in times when the price of bread was high. The perpetual apprentices who could not purchase a mastership in the tightly-controlled guilds were quick to express their resentment, and in university cities, students might be enlisted.In general, the nobles feared the peasant revolts because they feared displacement from...

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