The Dreadful History and Judgement of God on Thomas Müntzer

The Dreadful History and Judgement of God on Thomas Müntzer:The Life and Times of an Early German Revolutionary

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Thomas Müntzer: radical millenarian preacher, revolutionary, iconoclast

'The princes are nothing but tyrants who flay the people; they fritter away our blood and sweat on their pomp and whoring and knavery.’ These were the words of Thomas Müntzer at the head of the massed ranks of a peasant army in the year 1525. Ranged against him were the might of the princes of the German Nation. How did Müntzer, the son of a coin maker from central Germany, rise in just a few short years to become one of the most feared revolutionaries in early modern Europe?

In this brilliant work of historical excavation, Andrew Drummond charts the life and times of the man Martin Luther denounced as a ‘Ravening Wolf’ and ‘False Prophet’. Drummond shows us Müntzer as a human being. Far from the bloodthirsty devil of legend, he was a man of considerable learning and principle, deeply sympathetic to the misery of the peasantry and the poor. In his short life – he was beheaded at thirty-five – Müntzer promised to fundamentally upend German society.

Seeking to save Müntzer from the condescension of history, Drummond guides us through the religious and political disputes of the Reformation, placing his life and thought in the context of those turbulent years. The result is a portrait of an often contradictory but always radical figure, one who continues to inspire movements of the poor across the globe.

Reviews

  • At last – a new account for our times of Thomas Müntzer, theologian and revolutionary. Drummond brings Müntzer and his world vividly to life. He shows us just why Müntzer hated Luther, and how he came to take up arms. What did it mean to be a revolutionary in sixteenth-century Germany? – Drummond shows us. You will be gripped and inspired by this exciting story – I couldn’t put it down.

    Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History at Oxford, and author of Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet
  • Posterity has endorsed not just Luther’s victory but also his determined character assassination of his rival. Andrew Drummond’s scholarly but eminently readable, thoughtful, thorough and at times witty biography of Müntzer redresses the balance for English-speaking audiences

    Professor Michael Russell, University of Glasgow
  • Among the famous figures associated with 16th century Germany, that of religious thinker and social revolutionary Thomas Müntzer deserves to be far better known. Andy Drummond's excellent, brilliantly written and entertaining, new biography delves deep into the archival material to draw out the history of a radical whose life is often obscured by propaganda and myth. As we approach the 500th anniversary of Müntzer's execution, this book is the definitive account of his life.

    Martin Empson, author of 'Kill all the Gentlemen': Class Struggle and Change in the English Countryside