For a long time, premodern politics was considered an elite prerogative. Kings and nobles ruled, commoners obeyed. Yet historians have increasingly become aware of formal and informal popular influence, be it in local government, representative assemblies or through acts of resistance. In this class, we will look at one of the most famous early modern rebel manifestos, drawn up during the German Peasants' War of 1524-26. The set reading, in turn, takes a more general look at socio-political structures in the Holy Roman Empire during our period, particularly the emergence and powers of rural and urban communes.
- What role, if any, could the people play in early modern politics?
- Did the emergence of print and public sphere increase or decrease popular political involvement?
- Were early modern rebellions essentially conservative?
Questions about the source:
- How revolutionary are the peasants' demands?
- Is this document primarily about political, socio-economic or religious issues?
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