'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.