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the final resting place

Lorch Monastery

Armed peasants, period woodcut. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner
Unquiet times

The Peasants' War

in Lorch

When Lorch Monastery was at the height of its prosperity, the Peasants' War brought about its destruction. The Peasants' War was triggered by complicated economic, social, political, and religious factors. However, the ideas of Martin Luther also contributed to the peasants' movement.

Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, circa 1540, woodcut by Hans Brosamer. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

The population was affected by increasing taxes.

REASONS FOR THE PEASANTS' WAR

In the spring of 1525, peasant rebellions broke out in many places in southwest and central Germany. The reason behind them was the introduction of new consumption taxes on important foods. Because of young Duke Ulrich's extravagant lifestyle, the land was massively in debt. The government attempted to resolve the financial crisis by increasing taxes. At the same time, the expansion of royal power restricted the autonomy of subjects and increased unrest and resistance.

Peasants harvesting grain, oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Bad harvests and war threatened the peasants.

THE LIVES OF SUBJECTS

The position of peasants changed frequently and quickly, because it varied from year to year depending on harvests and market circumstances. Generally, large farms did better than smaller ones. On the whole, the lives of peasants must have been rather lean and meager. Their existence was threatened by every bad harvest and they were often preyed on by unemployed mercenaries. Social differences also led to great dissatisfaction.

Exterior view of Lorch Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Lorch was targeted in the rebellion.

In the Rems valley in the spring of 1514, "Armer Konrad" was established: a group of peasants and townsfolk who rose up against the duke's policies. The peasant finally revolted in 1525. From Gaildorf, the rebels went to Murrhardt Monastery and plundered it. On April 26, they attacked Lorch Monastery. The peasants felt that the Reformation strengthened their goals: Martin Luther's work, "On the Freedom of a Christian" supported them in their desire to be freed from bondage.

Cloister wings with net vault at Lorch Monastery. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Geissler

Part of the cloister was spared from destruction.

EFFECTS ON LORCH MONASTERY

The late Gothic cloister was built in Lorch at the end of the 15th century and the monastery church received a new choir room. But parts of the cloister and the conclave were damaged and plundered in the Peasants' War. There was too little time for a complete reconstruction: With the introduction of the Reformation, Lorch Monastery was dissolved and, like other monasteries in Württemberg, repurposed as a Protestant monastery school and monastery office for administrative tasks.

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