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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Episode 31 – Knights’ Revolt

In October 1347, twelve trading ships docked in the Sicilian port of Messina. When the ships were boarded, the locals were horrified to find most of the crewmates either dead or dying of a strange illness that covered their bodies with the black boils. Even though the authorities ordered the ships sent back out to sea, it was too late. The Black Plague had arrived in Europe.

The plague would not stop ravaging Europe until 1720, almost 400 years after it first arrived. During this time, the plague totally reordered society by killing off huge numbers of peasants who were the foundation of the medieval system of governance called feudalism.

The decimation of the peasant population resulted in increased bargaining power for the remaining peasants, allowing them to make some choices about how they wanted to live. The empowering of the peasants left the knights, who populated the lowest level of the ruling system, without peasants to tax and protect, throwing their entire existence into question.  In 1522, the knights decided to do what they did best – to fight in the knights’ revolt, a critical step in the reordering of Europe during the time of the reformation.

Franz von Sickingen was a knight who saw himself as a sort of Robin Hood, defending the poor against injustices.

In 1513, he took the side of a citizen of Worms who was driven out of town. He attacked Worms with 7000 men and won. In 1518, he fought for the citizens of Metz against the local government. He won that battle too. He was given 20,000 gold gulden and a month’s pay for his troops, but it’s unclear how this helped the citizens. He also offered his castles as refuges for any reformer who was under attack.

He made friends with Ulrich von Hutten, a humanist who was interested in enforcing reform through military means. Together, von Sickingen and von Hutten worked to promote Luther’s teachings, even offering Luther protection against the Emperor. Luther turned them down.

In 1522, Sickingen and Hutton decided to overthrow the Archbishop of Trier, who was a supporter of the pope. Part of his strategy was to get the people of Trier to revolt.

When Sickingen attacked, the people never revolted, so he was left with insufficient forces. He ran out of gunpowder after 7 days, and retreated to his castle in Landstuhl. Hutton escaped to Switzerland. This episode is about how their work upset the social system and laid the groundwork for the peasants revolt led by Thomas Müntzer.

The ringleader of the knights: Franz von Sickingen

Beer break

CAKEWALK by Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City Michigan.

This is our second Traverse City Brewery in a row!!!

Style: Vanilla Cream Ale

ABV: 4.5%

Package: Draft, 12oz Bottle 6-Packs.

Description: An extremely light and approachable cream ale brewed with real Madagascar Vanilla Beans. The addition of corn yields a light creamy mouth feel. This finishes smooth, not sweet.

Recognitions

  • Thanks to Josh
  • Thanks to St. Paul Lutheran in Hamburg MI
  • James Kittelson – Luther the Reformer
  • Scott Hendrix – Martin Luther, The Man and His Vision
  • Christina Vunguyen – The Black Death: How it affected Feudalism
  • Roger J. P. Kain, and Hugh C. Prince – The Tithe Surveys of England and Wales