Thomas Muentzer

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Munzer.jpg
Thomas Mntzer, in a 18th century engraving by C. Van Sichem

Thomas Muentzer (or Mntzer, Mnzer) (1489 or 149027 May 1525) was an early Reformation-era German pastor who was a rebel leader during the Peasants' War.

He was born in the small village of Stolberg in the Hartz Mountains. Thomas Muentzer initially studied for the priesthood, earning the MA degree and completing the Bacculareus biblicus. He became versed in the Greek, Hebrew and Latin languages. After ordination in 1513 he became a priest at St. Michael's in Braunschweig in May 1514.

As early as 1519 Muentzer had accepted the need for ecclesiastical reforms. He joined Martin Luther's Reformation, becoming a pastor in Zwickau in Saxony in 1520 on Luther's recommendation. Luther, however, did not go far enough for Muentzer, who broke with him in 1521 over infant baptism, among other issues, and founded his own sect. For this reason, Muentzer ranks as one of the founders of the Anabaptist movement. Yet doubt exists as to whether he ever received adult "rebaptism".

The Zwickau authorities expelled Muentzer in 1521. In 1522 he engaged in a disputation with Luther. In 1523 he married a former nun and became pastor at Allstadt, where he preached until 1524. In 1524, Muentzer became one of the leaders of the uprising later known as the Peasants' War. He led a group of about 8000 peasants at the battle of Frankenhausen (15 May 1525), convinced that God would intervene on their side. Utterly defeated, captured, imprisoned and tortured, Muentzer recanted and accepted the Catholic mass prior to his beheading in Mhlhausen in Thuringia on May 27, 1525.

A widespread belief exists that Muentzer encouraged the peasants to revolt against the wealthy landowners based on his interpretations of apocalyptic literature, especially the struggle of good against evil as found in the Book of Revelation. Applying the victory of Revelation to his own situation, he led a group of singing peasants to their slaughter. Muentzer's struggle of "good against evil" later made him a symbolic hero for the East German state (German Democratic Republic, GDR) in the 20th century, appearing from 1975 on their 5 mark banknote. It may seem odd for the atheist GDR state to have a theologian as a hero, but it may have come about in part, according to Torkel Brekke, because Muentzer's movement and the peasants' revolt formed an important topic in Friedrich Engels' book The Peasant War in Germany, a classic defense of historical materialism. Engels describes Muentzer as a revolutionary leader who chose to use biblical language—the only language the peasants would understand. Opponents of this idea argue Thomas Muentzer was a theologian, and based his ideas around biblical themes concerning God's true servants and the battle against evil, acted as a prophet, and had little interest in revolution or in class struggle.

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References

Work of fiction:

de:Thomas Mntzer it:Thomas Mntzer ja:トマス・ミュンツァー zh:托马斯·闵采尔

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