Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Twelve Articles of the Peasants, 1525

Warning: Long post!

The Twelve Articles of the Peasants was a direct result of the Peasants' War (1524-26).  I've provided here the original German, as found in the Memmingen Archives, followed by a translation found in Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History: Reformation Number, Vol II, No. 6, Pgs 18-24 published by the Department of History of the University of Pennsylvania (1897).  It amazes me how history is constantly doomed to repeat itself, yet each generation feels that it is so 'enlightened'.

Memmingen Archives
"Dye grundtlichen vnd rechten haupt artickel, aller baurschafft vnnd hyndersessen der gaistlichen vnd weltlichen oberkayten, von wo(e)lchen sy sich beschwert vermainen.
Dem christlichen leeser fryd vnnd gnad gottes durch Christum. Es seyn vil wider christen, die yetzund von wegen der versammleten baurschafft das euangelion zu(o) schmehen vrsach nehmen, sagent, das seyn die frücht des newen euangelions? Nyemant gehorsam seyn, an allen ortten sich empor heben vnd auff po(e)men, mit grossem gewalt zu(o)hauff lauffen vnd sich rotten, gaistlich vnnd weltliche oberkaiten zu(o)reformieren, außzu(o)reytten, ja villeücht gar zu(o) erschlagen? Allen disen gotlosen freuenlichen vrtailern antwurten diese nachgeschribne artickel, Am ersten das sye dise schmach des wort gotes auffheben, zu(o)m andern die vngehorsamikait, ja die empo(e)rung aller bauren christenlich endtschuldigen. Zu(o)m ersten, ist das euangelion nit ain vrsach der empo(e)rungen oder auffru(o)ren, dye weyl es ain rede ist, von Christo, dem verhaissne Messia, welchs wort vnd leben nichts dann liebe, fride, geduldt vnd ainigkaiten lernet. Also das alle die in disen Christum glauben, lieplich, fridlich, gedultig vnd ainig werden. So dann der grund aller artickel der bawren (wie dann klar gesehen wirt), das euangelion zu(o)ho(e)ren vnd dem gemeß zu(o) leben, dahin gericht ist. Wie mügen dann die widerchristen das ewangelion ain ursach der embo(e)rung vnd des vngehorsams nennen? Das aber ettlich widerchristen vnd feynd deß euangelij wider so(e)lliche anmu(o)ttung vnd begerung sich lonen vnd auffbo(e)men, ist das euangelion nit vr-sach, sonder der teüfel, der schedlichst feynd deß ewangelij, der solches durch den vnglauben in den seynen erweckt. Hye mitte das, das wort gotes (liebe, fryd, vnd ainigkait lernent) vndergetruckt vnd wegkgenommen wurde. || Zu(o)m andern dann klar lauter volget, das dye bawren in jren artickeln solches euangelion zu(o)r leer vnd leben begerendt, nit mügen vngehorsam, auffru(e)risch genennt werden. Ob aber got die pauren (nach seynem wort zu(o) leben a(e)ngstlich ru(o)ffent) erho(e)ren will, wer will den willen gotes tadlen? Wer will in sein gericht greyffen? Ja wer will seiner mayestet wyderstreben? Hat er die kinder Israhel, zu(o) jm schreyendt, erho(e)ret vnd auß der hand pharaonis erlediget? Mag er nit noch heut die seynen erretten? Ja, er wirts erretten! Vnd in ainer kürtz! Derhalben christlicher leser, solliche nachvolgendt artickel lyse mit fleyß, vnd nach mals vrtail.

Hye nachvolgent die artickel.

Der erst artickel:
Zum ersten ist vnser diemu(e)ttig bytt vnd beger, auch vnser aller will vnd maynung, das wir nun fürohin gewalt vnd macht wo(e)llen haben, ain gantze gemain sol ain pfarer selbs erwo(e)len vnd kyesen. Auch gewalt haben, den selbigen wider zu(o)entsetzen, wann er sich vngepürlich hieldt. Der selbig erwo(e)lt pfarrer soll vns das hailig euangeli lauter vnd klar predigen one allen menschlichen zu(o)satz, leer vnd gebot, dann vns den waren glauben stetz verkündigen, geyt vns ain vrsach got vnd sein gnad zu(o) bitten, vnns den selbygen waren glawben einbylden vnd in vns bestetten. Dann wann seyn genad in vnß nit eingepyldet wirdt, so bleyben wir stetz fleysch vnd blu(o)t, das dann nichts nutz ist, wie kla(e)rlich in der geschrifft stat, das wir allain durch den waren glauben zu(o) got kommen kinden, vnd allain durch seyn barmhertzigkait sa(e)lig mu(e)ssen werden. Darumb ist vns ain so(e)llicher vorgeer vnd pfarrer von no(e)tten, vnd in dieser gestalt in der geschrifft gegrindt.

Der ander artickel:

Zu(o)m andern, nach dem der recht zehat auff gesetzt ist im alten testament vnd im neuen als erfüldt, nichts destminder wo(e)llen wir den rechten korn zehat gern geben, doch wie sich gebürt. Dem nach man sol in got geben vnd den seynen mitaylen, gebürt es ainem pfarrer, so klar das wort gots verkindt. Seyen wir des willen hinfüro disen zehat vnser kirch bro(e)pst, so dan ain gemain setzt, sollen einsemlen vnd eynnemen, daruon ainem pfarrer, so von ainer gantzen gemain erwo(e)lt wirt, seyn zymlich gnu(o)gsam auffenthalt geben, jm vnd den seynen, nach erkantnus ainer gantzen gmain. Vnnd was über bleybt sol man (armen dürfftigen, so im selben dorff verhanden seynd) mittailen, nach gestalt der sach vnd erkantnus ainer gemain. Was über bleybt, soll man behaltten, ob man raysen mu(e)ßt von lands not wegen. Darmit man kain landts steüer dürff auff den armen man legen, sol manß von disem überschuß außrichten. Auch ob sach were, daz ains oder mer do(e)rffer weren, die den zehenden selbs verkaufft hettent auß ettlicher not halben, die selbigen so darumb zu(o) zaigen, in der gestalt haben von aynem gantzen dorff, der sol es nit entgelten, sonder wir wellen vns zymmlicher weyß nach gestalt und sach mit im vergleychen, jm sollichs wider mit zymlicher zyl vnd zeyt ablassen. Aber wer von kainem dorff sollichs erkaufft hat vnd jre forfaren jnen selbs solchs zu(o)geaygent haben, wo(e)llen vnd solen vnd seynd jnen nichts weyters schuldig zu(o)geben, alain wie obstat vnsern erwo(e)lten pfarrer darmit zu(o) vnderhalten, nachmalen ablesen oder den dürfftigen mittailen, wie die hailig geschryfft innho(e)lt, sy seyen gaistlich oder welttlich. Den klaynen zehat wo(e)llen wir gar nit geben. Dann got der herr das vich frey dem menschen beschaffen, das wir für ain vnzymlichen zehat schetzen, den die menschen erdicht haben. Darumb wo(e)llen wir jn nit weytter geben.

Der drit artickel:

Zu(o)m dritten ist der brauch byßher gewesen, das man vns für jr aigen leüt gehalten haben, wo(e)lchs zu(o) erbarmen ist, angesehen, das vns Christus all mitt seynem kostparlichen plu(e)tvergu(e)ssen erlo(e)ßt vnnd erkaufft hat, Den || hyrtten gleych alls wol alls den ho(e)chsten, kain außgenommen. Darumb erfindt sich mit der geschryfft, das wir frey seyen vnd wo(e)llen sein. Nit das wir gar frey wo(e)llen seyn, kain oberkait haben wellen. Lernet vnß gott nit, wir sollen in gepotten leben, nit yn freyem fleyschlichen mu(o)twilen, sonder got lieben, jn als vnserrn herren jn vnsern nechsten erkennen, vnnd alles das, so wyr auch gern hetten, das vnns got am nachtmal gepotten hat zu(o) ainer letz. Darumb sollen wir nach seinem gepot leben. Zaigt vnd weißt vns diß gepot nit an, das wir der oberkkait nit korsam seyen? Nit allain der oberkait, sunder wir sollen vns gegen jederman diemu(e)tigen, das wir auch geren gegen vnser erwelten vnd gesetzten oberkayt (so vns von got gesetzt) jn allen zimlichen vnd christlichen sachen geren gehorsam sein. Seyen auch onzweyfel, jr werdendt vnß der aigenschafft als war vnnd recht christen geren endtlassen oder vns jm euangeli des berichten, das wirß seyen.

Der viert artickel:

Zum vierten ist bißher jm brauch gewesen, daß kayn armer man nit gewalt gehabt hatt, das willpret, gefigel oder fisch jn fliessenden wasser nit zu(o) fachen zu(o) gelassen werden, welchs vns gantz vnzymlich vnd vnbru(e)derlich dunckt, sunder aigennützig vnd dem wort gotz nit gemeß sein. Auch in etlichen ortern die oberkait vns das gewild zu(o) trutz vnd mechtigem schaden haben, wil vns das vnser (so got dem menschen zu(o) nutz wachsen hat lassen) die vnuernüfftigen thyer zu(o) vnutz verfretzen mu(e)twiligklich (leyden mu(e)ssen) dar zu(o) stillschweigen, das wider gott vnd dem nechsten ist, Wann als gott der herr den menschen erschu(o)ff, hat er jm gewalt geben vber alle thier, vber den fogel im lufft vnd vber den fisch jm wasser. Darumb ist vnser begeren, wann ainer wasser hette, das ers mit gnu(o)gsamer schriff be- || weysen mag, das man das wasser vnwyssenlych also erkaufft hette, begeren wir jms nit mit gewalt zu(o) nemen. Sunder man mu(e)st ain christlich eynsechen darynnen haben von wegen bru(o)derlicher lieb, aber wer nit gnu(e)gsam anzaigen darumb kann thon, solß ainer gemayn zymlicher weyß mittailen.

Der funfft artickel:

Zum fünfften seyen wir auch beschwert der beholtzung halb. Dann vnsere herschafften habend jnenn die ho(e)ltzer alle allain geaignet, vnd wann der arm man was bedarff, mu(o)ß ers vmb zway geldt kauffen. Ist vnnser maynung: Was für ho(e)ltzer seyen, es habens geistlich oder weltlich, jnnen, die es nit erkaufft haben, sollen ayner gantzen gemain wider anhaim fallen, vnd ainer gemayn zimlicher weiß frey sein, aim yetlichen sein noturfft jnß hauß zu(o) brenen vmb sunst lassen nehmen, auch wann von no(e)ten sein wurde zu(o) zymmern auch vmb sunst nemen, doch mit wissen der, so von der gemain darzu(o) erwelt werden. So aber kains verhanden wer, dann das, so redlich erkaufft ist wordenn, sol man sich mit den selbigen briederlich vnd christelich vergleichen. Wann aber das gu(o)t am anfang auß inen selbs geaygnet wer worden vnd nachmals verkaufft worden, sol man sich vergleichen nach gestalt der sach vnd erkantnuß briederlicher lieb vnd heiliger geschrifft.

Der sechst artickel:

Zu(o)m sechsten ist vnser hart beschwerung der dyenst halben, wo(e)lche von tag zu(o) tag gemert werden vnd teglich zu(o) nemen, begeren wir, das man ain zimlich ein sechen darein thu(e), vnß der massen nit so hart beschweren, sonder vns gnedig hier jnnen ansechen, wie vnser eltern gedient haben, allain nach laut des wort gots.

Der sybent artickel:

Zu(e)m sibenden, das wir hinfüro vns ain herschafft nit weyter wo(e)lle lassen beschweren, sonder wieß ain herschafft zymlicher weiß aim verleycht, also sol erß besitzen laut der verainigung des herren vnd bauren. Der herr soll jn nit weiter zwyngen noch dryngen, mer dyenst noch anders vom jm vmb sunst begeren, darmit der baur solych gu(o)tt onbeschwert, also rüeblich brauchen vnd niessen müg. Ob aber des herren dienst von no(e)tten weren, sol jm der baur willig vnd gehorsam für ander sein, doch zu(e) stund vnd zeyt, das dem bauren nit zu(o) nachtail dyen, vnnd jme vmb aynen zymlichen pffenning denn thu(o)n.

Der achtet artickel:

Zu(o)m achten sey wir beschwert, vnd der vil, so gu(e)ter jnnen haben, das die selbigen gu(e)ter die gült nit ertragen kinden vnd die bauren das jr darauff einbiessen vnd verderben, das die herschafft dieselbigen gu(e)ter, erber leüe besichtigen lassen vnd nach der billikayt ain gylt erscho(e)pff, damit der baur sein arbait nit vmb sunst thye, dann ain yetlicher tagwercker ist seyns lons wirdig.

Der neundt artickel:
Zu(o)m neünten seyen wyr beschwertt der grossen frefel, so man stetz new satzung macht, nit das man vnß strafft nach gestalt der sach, sunder zu(o) zeyten auß grossem neyd vnd zu(o) zeytten auß grossem gunst. Ist vnser maynung, vns bey alter geschribner straff straffen, darnach die sach gehandelt ist, vnd nit nach gunst.

Der zehent artickel:

Zu(o)m zehenden sey wir beschwert, das etlich haben jnen zu(e)geaignet wisen, der gleichen ecker, die dann ainer gemain zu(o) geherendt. Dieselbigen werden wir wider zu(e) vnsern gemainen handen nehmen, es sey dann sach, das mans redlich erkaufft hab. Wann mans aber vnbillycher weyß erkaufft het, sol man sich gu(e)tlich vnnd briederlich mit ainander vergleychen nach gestalt der sach.

Der aylfft artickel:

Zu(o)m ailften wellen wir den brauch genant den todt fall gantz vnd gar abthu(e)n haben. Den nimmer leiden noch gestatten, das man witwen, waisen das jr wider got vnd eeren, also schentlich nemen, berauben sol, wie es an vil ortten (menigerlay gestalt) geschehen ist, vnd von den, so sy besitzen vnd beschirmen solten, hand sy vns geschunden vnnd geschaben, vnd wann sy wenig fu(o)g hettendt gehabt, hettendt diß gar genomen, das got nit mer leiden wyl, sunder sol gantz absein, kain mensch nichts hinfiro schuldig sein zu(o) geben, weder wenig noch vyl.

Beschluß:

Zu(o)m zwelften ist vnser beschluß vnd endtlyche maynung, wann ainer oder mer artickel, alhie gesteldt (so dem wort gotes nit gemeß) weren, als wir dann nit vermainen, die selbigen artickel wol man vns mit dem wort gots für vnzimlich anzaigen, wolt wyr daruon abston, wann mans vns mit grundt der schrifft erklert. Ob man vns schon etlich artickel yetz zu(o) lyeß vnd hernach sich befendt, das vnrecht weren, sollen sy von stund an todt vnd absein, || nichts mer gelten. Dergleichen ob sich in der schrifft mit der warhait mer artickel erfunden, die wider got vnd beschwernus der na(e)chsten weren, wo(e)ll wir vnns auch vorbehalten vnnd beschlossen haben vnnd vns in aller christlicher leer yeben vnd brauchen. Darumb wir gott den herren bitten wo(e)llen, der vns das selbig geben kan vnnd sunst nyemant. Der frid Christi sey mit vns allen."
Translation:

THE TWELVE ARTICLES OF THE PEASANTS.

The great peasant war affords a serious commentary upon the general social and economic conditions in Germany at the opening of the Reformation. The abuses were, however, of long standing and several local revolts had taken place before 1525.  Even the religious element so prominent in the 12 articles was not new, but can easily be traced back to a period antedating the publication of Luther's Theses. The religious crisis bore therefore somewhat the same relation to the terrible outbreak of the slowly developed discontent that the financial crisis in France (the immediate reasonfor assembling the estates general in 1789) bore to the great democratic movement of reform which constituted the essence of the French Revolution.

The articles given below are the sober manifesto of the conservative party and closely resemble the local cahiers of the third estate which were drawn up in France in 1789. Much more radical schemes than the 12 articles were, however, drafted providing for a complete revision of the constitution of the German Empire. These latter did not confine themselves to the complaints of the discontented peasants but included those of other classes as well.[1]

In the translation the editors have availed themselves so far as possible of the partial translation of the articles given in Gieseler's Ecclesiastical History, vol. v, pp. 347 ff. (of the Edinburgh edition).

From the German of the period, in Oechsle: Beiträge zur Geschichte des Bauern krieges (Heilbronn, 1830) pp. 246 ff.
The fundamental and correct chief articles of all the peasants and of those subject to ecclesiastical[2] lords, relating to these matters in which they feel themselves aggrieved.
M cccc. quadratum, lx et duplicatum
V cum transibit, christiana secta peribit.
     Ein M, vier c, zwei l darbey.
     Und ein x das zwifach sey.
     Bald man ein v dartzu ist schreyben
     Werden nit souil secten des christen bleyben.

Peace to the Christian Reader and the Grace of God through Christ.

There are many evil writings put forth of late which take occasion, on account of the assembling of the peasants, to cast scorn upon the gospel, saying: Is this the fruit of the new teaching, that no one should obey but all should everywhere rise in revolt and rush together to reform or perhaps destroy altogether the authorities, both ecclesiastic and lay? The articles below shall answer these godless and criminal fault-finders, and serves in the first place to remove the reproach from the word of God and in the second place to give a Christian excuse for the disobedience or even the revolt of the entire Peasantry. In the first place the Gospel is not the cause of revolt and disorder, since it is the message of Christ, the promised Messiah, the Word of Life, teaching only love, peace, patience and concord. Thus, all who believe in Christ should learn to be loving, peaceful, long-suffering and harmonious.  This is the foundation of all the articles of the peasants (as will be seen) who accept the gospel and live according to it. How then can the evil reports declare the Gospel to be a cause of revolt and disobedience? That the authors of the evil reports and the enemies of the Gospel oppose themselves to these demands is due not to the Gospel, but to the Devil, the worst enemy of the Gospel, who causes this opposition by raising doubts in the minds of his followers, and thus the word of God, which teaches love, peace and concord, is overcome. In the second place, it is clear that the peasants demand that this Gospel be taught them as a guide in life and they ought not to be called disobedient or disorderly. Whether God grant the peasants (earnestly wishing to live according to His word) their requests or no, who shall find fault with the will of the Most High? Who shall meddle in His judgments or oppose his majesty? Did he not hear the children of Israel when they called upon Him and saved them out of the hands of Pharaoh? Can He not save His own to-day? Yea, he will save them and that speedily. Therefore, Christian reader, read the following articles with care and then judge.  Here follow the articles:

The First Article.—First, it is our humble petition and desire, as also our will and resolution, that in the future we should have power and authority so that each community should choose and appoint a pastor, and that we should have the right to depose him should he conduct himself improperly. The pastor thus chosen should teach us the Gospel pure and simple, without any addition, doctrine or ordinance of man. For to teach us continually the true faith will lead us to pray God that through His grace this faith may increase within us and become a part of us. For if His grace work not within us we remain flesh and blood, which availeth nothing; since the Scripture clearly teaches that only through true faith can we come to God. Only through His Mercy can we become holy. Hence such a guide and pastor is necessary and in this fashion grounded upon the Scriptures.

The Second Article.—According as the just tithe is established by the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New, we are ready and willing to pay the fair tithe of grain. The word of God plainly provides that in giving according to right to God and distributing to His people the services of a pastor are required. We will that for the future our church provost, whomsoever the community may appoint, shall gather and receive this tithe. From this he shall give to the pastor, elected by the whole community, a decent and sufficient maintenance for him and his (im und den seynen) as shall seem right to the whole community [or, with the knowledge of the community].  What remains over shall be given to the poor of the place, as the circumstances and the general opinion demand. Should anything farther remain, let it be kept, lest anyone should have to leave the country from poverty. Provision should also be made from this surplus to avoid laying any land tax on the poor. In[3] case one or more villages themselves have sold their tithes on account of want, and the village has taken action as a whole, the buyer should not suffer loss, but we will that some proper agreement be reached with him for the repayment of the sum by the village with due interest. But those who have tithes which they have not purchased from a village, but which were appropriated by their ancestors, should not, and ought not, to be paid anything farther by the village which shall apply its tithes to the support of the pastors elected as above indicated, or to solace the poor as is taught by the Scriptures. The small tithes, whether ecclesiastical or lay, we will not pay at all, for the Lord God created cattle for the free use of man. We will not, therefore, pay farther an unseemly tithe which is of man's invention.

The Third Article.—It has been the custom hitherto for men to hold us as their own property, which is pitiable enough, considering that Christ has delivered and redeemed us all, without exception, by the shedding of His precious blood, the lowly as well as the great. Accordingly, it is consistent with Scripture that we should be free and wish to be so. Not that we would wish to be absolutely free and under no authority. God does not teach us that we should lead a disorderly life in the lusts of the flesh, but that we should love the Lord our God and our neighbor. We would gladly observe all this as God has commanded us in the celebration of the communion.[4] He has not commanded us not to obey the authorities, but rather that we should be humble, not only towards those in authority, but towards everyone. We are thus ready to yield obedience according to God's law to our elected and regular authorities in all proper things becoming to a Christian. We, therefore, take it for granted that you will release us from serfdom as true Christians, unless it should be shown us from the Gospel that we are serfs.

The Fourth Article.—In the fourth place it has been the custom heretofore, that no poor man should be allowed to touch venison or wild fowl or fish in flowing water, which seems to us quite unseemly and unbrotherly as well as selfish and not agreeable to the word of God.  In some places the authorities preserve the game to our great annoyance and loss, recklessly permitting the unreasoning animals to destroy to no purpose our crops which God suffers to grow for the use of man and yet we must remain quiet. This is neither godly nor neighborly. For when God created man he gave him dominion over all the animals, over the birds of the air and over the fish in the water. Accordingly it is our desire if a man holds possession of waters that he should prove from satisfactory documents that his right has been unwittingly acquired by purchase. We do not wish to take it from him by force, but his rights should be exercised in a Christian and brotherly fashion. But whosoever cannot produce such evidence should surrender his claim with good grace.[5]

The Fifth Article.—In the fifth place we are aggrieved in the matter of wood-cutting, for the noble folk have appropriated all the woods to themselves alone. If a poor man requires wood he must pay double for it, [or perhaps, two pieces of money]. It is our opinion in regard to a wood which has fallen into the hands of a lord whether spiritual or temporal, that unless it was duly purchased it should revert again to the community. It should, moreover, be free to every member of the community to help himself to such fire wood as he needs in his home. Also, if a man requires wood for carpenter's purposes he should have it free, but with the knowledge of a person appointed by the community for that purpose. Should, however, no such forest be at the disposal of the community let that which has been duly bought be administered in a brotherly and Christian manner. If the forest, although unfairly appropriated in the first instance, was later duly sold let the matter be adjusted in a friendly spirit and according to the Scriptures.

The Sixth Article.—Our sixth complaint is in regard to the excessive services demanded of us which are increased from day to day. We ask that this matter be properly looked into so that we shall not continue to be oppressed in this way, but that some gracious consideration be given us, since our forefathers were required only to serve according to the word of God.

The Seventh Article.—Seventh, we will not hereafter allow ourselves to be farther oppressed by our lords, but will let them demand only what is just and proper according to the word of the agreement between the lord and the peasant.  The lord should no longer try to force more services or other dues from the peasant without payment, but permit the peasant to enjoy his holding in peace and quiet. The peasant should, however, help the lord when it is necessary, and at proper times when it will not be disadvantageous to the peasant and for a suitable payment.

The Eighth Article.—In the eighth place, we are greatly burdened by holdings which cannot support the rent exacted from them. The peasants suffer loss in this way and are ruined, and we ask that the lords may appoint persons of honor to inspect these holdings, and fix rent in accordance with justice, so that the peasant shall not work for nothing, since the laborer is worthy of his hire.

The Ninth Article.—In the ninth place, we are burdened with a great evil in the constant making of new laws. We are not judged according to the offence, but sometimes with great ill will, and sometimes much too leniently. In our opinion we should be judged according to the old written law so that the case shall be decided according to its merits, and not with partiality.

The Tenth Article.—In the tenth place, we are aggrieved by the appropriation by individuals of meadows and fields which at one time belonged to a community. These we will take again into our own hands. It may, however, happen that the land was rightfully purchased. When, however, the land has unfortunately been purchased in this way, some brotherly arrangement should be made according to circumstances.

The Eleventh Article.—In the eleventh place we will entirely abolish the due called Todfall [i. e., heriot], and will no longer endure it, nor allow widows and orphans to be thus shamefully robbed against God's will, and in violation of justice and right, as has been done in many places, and by those who should shield and protect them. These have disgraced and despoiled us, and although they had little authority they assumed it. God will suffer this no more, but it shall be wholly done away with, and for the future no man shall be bound to give little or much.

Conclusion.—In the twelfth place it is our conclusion and final resolution, that if any one or more of the articles here set forth should not be in agreement with the word of God, as we think they are, such article we will willingly recede from when it is proved really to be against the word of God by a clear explanation of the scripture. Or if articles should now be conceded to us that are hereafter discovered to be unjust, from that hour they shall be dead and null and without force.  Likewise, if  more complaints should be discovered which are based upon truth and the scriptures and relate to offences against God and our neighbor, we have determined to reserve the right to present these also, and to exercise ourselves in all Christian teaching. For this we shall pray God, since He can grant these, and He alone. The peace of Christ abide with us all.

1  The version printed in Benson's Geschichte des Bauemkriegs in Ost/ranken, (1840) pp. 514 ff. adds: " and lay lords." The same version omits the characteristic but untranslatable rhymes.

2  For a very interesting example see Oechsle, pp. 163 ff and 283 ff.


3  The following two sentences are somewhat obscure in the original. 

4  A reference to the gospel of John, chap. XIII.


5  Compare the above with the Art. II-IV of the decree abolishing the Feudal System in France, August 1789.  Translations and reprints, Vol. I, No. 5, p. 3.

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