14 September 2012
The Progressive Peasant Revolution
Inhabiting the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century, the upper class considered peasants a mere subhuman. Conversely, Martin Luther, a German professor of theology, influenced reformation to the German state. This reformation focused on the peasants, especially the peasant revolt of 1524. As the revolution continued, the Peasant Parliament formed to coordinate activates and strive for optimistic results of the revolt. Consequently, peasants offered moderate reforms that were supported by the towns, but condemned by the nobility and the leading Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. This would be known as the largest uprising in Europe before the French Revolution of 1789. Economic grievances justified by Protestant religious ideas combined to cause the revolts, where as responses varied depending on social class.
The peasants suffered from numerous economic injustices. In Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, peasant leaders bemoaned that the lords forced them to preform services without compensation (Doc2). From any perspective, many would conclude this practice to be forceful slavery, which strips the peasants from what little freedom they already possessed. Also, in the Articles of Peasants of Memmingen, the peasants indict the nobles of turning them into serfs (Doc 3). Serfdom restricts the peasants’ freedom to travel and settle where they so choose. Also, it exchanges a stable income for free housing and protection, as long as the individual remains on the noble’s property and works for free, which would be the antithesis to a peasants ideal life. Given that peasant leaders wrote both documents 2 and 3, it can be assumed that these articles were created with passion and are biased to bolster the extent of oppression delivered by their leaders (Pov 1 and 2). The peasants had a reason to feel exploited. In fact, they were forced to pay feudal dues, church...