Decline of the German monarchy

In the beginning of the fourteenth century, Germany experienced a dramatic increase in population size that would later affect the everyday life of German people for years to come. The established agricultural system was not able to keep up with the population growth, thus resulting in massive amounts of malnutrition, high death counts and destruction of a people. As war carried on through the years, the food shortages continued to weaken the population and put them at risk of deathly diseases like the bubonic plague. With this unsettling image of Europe, the area began to see the start of a social upraising that would never be matched. As the people began to rise up against municipal governments, it was difficult to find a town that had not see the face of resistance. All throughout Europe, towns were falling victum to the destruction of the monarch system.

Piper of Niklashausen and the Bundschuh Uprisings

In 1476, leader Hans Behiem (otherwise known as Piper of Niklashausen) organized roughly 34,000 peasants to form a pilgrimage to Niklashausen. He had attracted followers from all across Europe with his claim of having had a vision of the Virgin Mary. He claimed that the Virgin had come to him and told him to lead his people to the attainment of forgiveness. Forgiveness from a higher deity was a sure enough reason to cause thousands of towns-people to be moved. With this large number of peasants, it was no difficult task to cause large amounts of devastation in towns that were attacked by this group.

His vision for his population was to create a place where there were no hands at power; no kings, queens, princes or popes. He believed that all forms of authority were not necessary and that every person deserved a meal that was worked hard for. He believed in a place where no rule was needed—Hans the Piper would be the start of the destruction of the German monarchy.

Word quickly spread of Hans’ visit from the Virgin Mary. People from as far as Bavaria and the Rhine showed up in support of Hans. He was approached and worshiped as if he were a saint. Regular Sunday sermons were gathering crowds of 40,000 to Niklashausen.

Driving the masses

After preaching to his people for months, Hans the Piper found himself able to finally give direction and guide them to what the Virgin Mary requested. He ended his sermon with “And now go home, and weigh in your mind what our Holiest Madonna has announced to you, and on the coming Saturday leave your wives and children and old men at home, but you, you men, come back here to Niklashausen on the day of St. Margaret, which is next Saturday, and bring with you your brothers and friends, as many as they may be. Do not come with pilgrims' staves, but covered with weapons and ammunition, in one hand a candle, in the other a sword and a pike or halberd, and the Holy Virgin will then announce to you what she wishes you to do.” With these moving words, Hans had no trouble organizing his men, however, was stopped by the bishop’s horsemen once they received word of Hans’ plans.

The night after Hans’ sermon, the bishop sent his horsemen to seize the man behind the plan. Hans was brought to the Castle of Wuerzburg where he was not able to lead his men to salvation. Once news reached the thousands waiting for Hans, the effort quickly lost its power. A majority of the men who made their way to Niklashausen quickly turned back home. As for the few that remained faithful to the mission, they made their way to the castle which held Hans hostage. However, after much persuasion, the bishop had convinced the men to return home. As soon as the group turned back to their wives and children, the bishop’s horsemen attacked and imprisoned the men. In the end, Hans the Piper was burned.

Works Cited

Engels, Frederick. “Chapter 3Precursors: Peasant Uprisings, 1475-1517.” The Peasant War in Germany: Chapter 3. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.

Schulze, Hagen. Germany: A New History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1998. Print.

“WHKMLA : Princebishopric Würzburg : Peasant Rebellion Planned by the Piper of Niklashausen, 1476.” WHKMLA : Princebishopric Würzburg : Peasant Rebellion Planned by the Piper of Niklashausen, 1476. World History at KMLA, 17 Nov. 2004. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.

ger/101/2012/fall/sam_suarez.txt · Last modified: 2012/09/26 08:04 by ssuarez
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