German Society at the Close of the Middle Ages

Autor: E. Belfort Bax

Wydawnictwo: Perennial Press

The work, of which the present volume is the first instalment, aims at giving English readers a general view of the social condition and the popular movements of Germany during the period known as that of the Reformation. In accordance with this plan, I have only touched incidentally upon the theological disputes then apparently uppermost in the thoughts of men, or upon the purely political side of things. They are dealt with merely in so far as they immediately strike across the path of social and internal affairs. The present volume, which has a more general character than its successors, deals with a period limited, roughly speaking, by the closing years of the fifteenth century on the one side, and by 1525, the year of the great Peasant rising, on the other. It contains a narrative of the earlier popular revolutionary movements at the close of the Middle Ages, the precursors of the Peasants' War; and it also deals with the underlying causes, economic, social and juridical, of the general disintegration of the time.The next volume will treat more in detail the events of the years 1524 to 1526. The third will contain a history of the Anabaptist Movement in Central Europe from its rise at Zwickau in 1522 to its decline after the capture of Münster by the Archiepiscopal and Imperial troops in 1536. The reign of the Saints in Münster naturally forms the leading feature of this portion of the work.As to the sources for the history of the Germany of this period, I have endeavoured to incorporate everything available that seemed to me important for the proper understanding of the time. The three chief general histories of the Reformation, Ranke's Geschichte Deutschlands während der Reformations-Zeit, Janssen's Geschichte des Deutschen Volkes, and Egelhaaf's Deutsche Geschichte im sechszehnten Jahrhundert, have, it is scarcely necessary to say, been laid under contribution. The standpoint of Ranke, whose history is detailed and in certain respects exhaustive, is that of general bourgeois Philistinism. Janssen represents the Ultramontane Catholic view; but, apart from its tendency, every one must admire the brilliant and in most cases accurate scholarship that characterises it. Egelhaaf's work may be regarded as the counterblast to Janssen's. Its point of view is that of "liberal," middle-class German Protestantism; but it also contains many hints and clues which may be followed up by the industrious historian...
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