A mass revolt of the German lower classes during the Reformation. It began in south-west Germany and spread down the River Rhine and into Austria. Frustrated by economic hardships, the rebels were encouraged by radical Protestant preachers to expect a second coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of social equality and justice. They raided and pillaged in uncoordinated bands, driving Luther to condemn them in his fierce broadsheet Against the thieving and murdering hordes of the peasants (1525). Luther also supported the army of the Swabian League under Philip of Hesse, which helped to crush the main body of insurgents at Frankenhausen. Over 100,000 rebels were eventually slaughtered.
Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).