Episode 32 – Admonition to Peace

The arrival of the plague in the mid 1300’s radically changed medieval Germany. The peasants, who were the foundation of the social system, were decimated between the arrival of the plague and the start of the reformation over 170 years later. Ironically, the plague opened up incredible opportunity for many of the surviving peasantry with salable skills.

But as large groups of peasants moved to the cities to become bankers, traders and other merchants, the peasantry that remained in the old feudal system became more and more burdened as the lower nobility sought to create laws and systems that would keep the peasants tied to the land and unable to advance in society.

These peasants who were being horribly mistreated began to make demands for justice. The most famous demands were the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, written in 1525.

Since the Twelve Articles were promoted as a Christian document, it caught the attention of Martin Luther. He was not impressed.

We’ve spent a couple episodes talking about Franz von Sickingen and Thomas Müntzer, the respective leaders of the Knights’ and the Peasants’ Revolts.

In our last episode, we spent most of the time talking about the Knights’ Revolt, but then we took a little time to go through the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants, since this document did a lot to explain the societal issues that were behind these revolutions.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about Luther’s response to Twelve Articles, in a document titled Admonition to Peace. The full name is “Admonition to Peace, A Reply to the Twelve Articles of the Peasants in Swabia”.

Today, we’ll just cover Luther’s first thoughts on the subject of revolution, the Admonition to Peace.

Title page of Martin Luther’s addendum to Admonition to Peace, titled Against the Murderous and Plundering Peasant Hordes. This is a reprint of just the addendum by Johann Weyßenburger (Landshut, 1525), available from the Bayerische StaatsBibliothek (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Beer break

The Weihenstephan Brewery can trace its roots at the abbey to 768, as a document from that year refers to a hop garden in the area paying a tithe to the monastery. A brewery was licensed by the City of Freising in 1040, and that is the founding date claimed by the modern brewery. The brewery thus has a credible claim to being the oldest working brewery in the world.[1] (Weltenburg Abbey, also in Bavaria, has had a brewery in operation since 1050, and also claims to be the oldest brewery in the world.) When the monastery and brewery were secularised in 1803, they became possessions of the State of Bavaria.

Late history: Since 1923, the brewery has been known as the Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan (in German Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan), and is operated in conjunction with the Technical University of Munich as both a state-of-the-art production facility and a centre for learning.

The brewery produces a range of pale lagers and wheat beers including Weihenstephaner Weissbier, a 5.4% ABV weissbier which is available in filtered (Kristall) and unfiltered (Hefe) versions. The strongest beers the brewery produces are Infinium (10.5% ABV), Vitus (a 7.7% ABV wheat beer) and Korbinian (a 7.4% ABV strong lager or bock).

Hefe Weissbier (Wheat beer) A golden-yellow wheat beer, with its fine-poured white foam, smells of cloves and impresses consumers with its refreshing banana flavor. It is full bodied and with a smooth yeast taste. To be enjoyed at any time, goes excellently with fish and seafood, with spicy cheese and especially with the traditional Bavarian veal sausage. Brewed according to their centuries-old brewing tradition on the Weihenstephan hill.

Sign off

Thanks Josh Yagley for the help with the audio on every episode.

Recognition of source materials

  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • Christina Vunguyen – The Black Death: How it affected Feudalism
  • Luther’s Works vol 46
  • Wikipedia

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