This book presents a contemporary, eyewitness account of the life of Martin Luther translated into English. Johannes Cochlaeus (1479–1552) was present in the great hall at the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521 when Luther made his famous declaration before Emperor Charles V: ‘Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen’. Afterward, Cochlaeus sought Luther out, met him at his inn, and privately debated with him. Luther wrote of Cochlaeus, ‘may God long preserve this most pious man, born to guard and teach the Gospel of His church, together with His word, Amen’. However, the confrontation left Cochlaeus convinced that Luther was an impious and malevolent man. Over the next twnety-five years, Cochlaeus barely escaped the Peasant's War with his life. He debated with Melanchthon and the reformers of Augsburg. It was Cochlaeus who conducted the authorities to the clandestine printing press in Cologne, where William Tyndale was preparing the first English translation of the New Testament (1525). For an eyewitness account of the Reformation—and the beginnings of the Catholic Counter-Reformation—no other historical document matches the first-hand experience of Cochlaeus. After Luther's death, it was rumoured that demons seized the reformer on his death-bed and dragged him off to Hell. In response to these rumours, Luther's friend and colleague Philip Melanchthon wrote and published a brief encomium of the reformer in 1548. Cochlaeus consequently completed and published his monumental life of Luther in 1549.
whole the craftsmen had no
automatic right to representation on the city council. This was dominated by an
WITCHCRAFT NARRATIVES IN GERMANY
urban patriciate which made its money chiefly from land-rents rather than trade
and which became increasingly exclusive during the early modern period,
particularly after 1650. The tension between the urban patriciate and craftsmen
over the question of access to political power periodically reached breaking
point in Rothenburg.5 This occurred most spectacularly during the Peasants’
War of 1525, when the craftsmen seized the
Elizabeth Vandiver, Ralph Keen and Thomas D. Frazel
describes the ﬂight up the Rhine of Tyndale and his collaborator, William Roy,
to the Lutheran sanctuary of Worms where they ﬁnally completed their
Cochlaeus was an eyewitness when the Diets of Nuremberg (1522–3) abrogated the Emperor’s edict suppressing the reformers and demanded a national
German council. At the outbreak of the Peasants’ War in 1524–5 Cochlaeus
barely escaped with his life; his account of the savagery on both sides is still
harrowing. In 1526 he was present when the Diet of Speyer laid the foundation
Christian ruler, could choose disorder over order.
The Peasants’ War gave the ﬁrst indications that the danger posed by the
Reformers’ teachings extended beyond religious practice. For Cochlaeus, as for
other polemicists, it hardly mattered that the person they held responsible for
the Reformation was not directly the instigator of the 1525 rebellion.32 Luther
was widely depicted as the patron of disobedience, and his repudiation of the
peasants’ insurrection seemed all the greater proof of his responsibility. And
the horriﬁc casualty ﬁgures of the Peasants’ War were only
dynamics of the Wat Tyler, Bundschuh or
Peasants’ War were. We can as historians acknowledge their existence
and try to study them without betraying our subjects; but we must also be
sympathetically aware of notions of miasma and estates to make sense of what
they were up to in their terms. The latter concern has come far too short in
the mainstream practice of history these last sixty or so years.
Then there are the complex cross
never seen or heard anything of
Paulus and Barbara which would connect them with witchcraft and confirmed
that the couple had behaved in a neighbourly fashion in Wettringen during the
twelve years of their marriage. Since the time of the Peasants’ War (1525),
however, it had been rumoured in the village that Veit and Elisabeth Brosam,
and Veit’s brother Hans, were workers of sorcery.15 Leonhart Immell had once
publicly accused Hans Brosam of this, but had been fined after Hans had pursued a slander suit against him successfully at the village court in Wettringen.16
The idioms and risks of defiance in the trial of Margaretha Horn, 1652
of power for the councillors at this time may also have
reminded them of another threatening force – that of popular discontent – to
which they could hardly afford to remain impervious: the events of the Peasants’ War of 1525, when the patrician oligarchy had been ousted from government of the city on a tide of social and religious unrest, was hardly such a distant
memory.32 God was the third and most powerful force with which Margaretha
threatened the council. Through the threat of the dysentery epidemic if the
council failed to wield the sword of justice properly
from the confession of a nine-yearold boy in Bamberg in 1629, see Sebald, Der Hexenjunge, especially pp. 28–33.
RStA Interrogation Book A877 fols 546r, 552r.
Ibid., fols 549v, 563v.
Ibid., fol. 550r.
Ibid., fol. 546r.
When called on to testify in the ongoing dispute over the village accounts on 26 February
1587, Martin Gackstatt had said that he could remember the Peasants’ War (of 1525) when
asked how old he was, see RStA Hilgartshausen Village Acts A597 fol. 224r.
See ibid., fols 183r–332v for the case documents of this lengthy legal dispute.
Fletcher, Gender, Sex
hinterland and its inhabitants to the city was
emphasised in many ways during the early modern period. After the Peasants’
War of 1525, for example, the council acknowledged the military importance
of the men of the hinterland when it quickly re-armed the peasants who had
just raised their weapons in rebellion against its authority so that they could
help defend the city in a feud with a neighbouring lord.67 The economic importance of its peasant subjects to the city can be seen from council ordinances
which ordered the hinterland inhabitants to sell their produce only at