The Encyclopedia Americana (1906)/Münzer, Thomas

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Münzer, münt'sĕr, Thomas, German religious fanatic: b. Stolberg about 1490; d. Frankenhausen 15 May 1525. He preached at Zwickau in 1520, and at Prague in 1521, promulgated his doctrines at Allstedt in Thuringia in 1523, and excited the people to revolt against the authorities. In Mühlhausen (1524) he gained the unqualified support of the populace, deposed the city council and appointed a new one, suffered the monasteries and houses of the wealthy to be sacked, and proclaimed a community of goods. He was now joined by another fanatic named Pfeifer, with his troop of rapacious followers, and this circumstance with the news that 40,000 peasants had assembled in Franconia, and plundered and burned 150 castles of the nobles and 23 monasteries, inflamed his zeal, and he joined in what was termed the "Peasants' War," intending to exterminate "the godless princes and priests." Leaving Pfeifer governor in Mühlhausen, he proceeded to Frankenhausen, and rekindled the ardor of the townspeople. The dukes of Saxony, Philip, and Brunswick, and other rulers sent a force against the insurgents; Münzer was totally defeated after an obstinate struggle, was taken and executed. See Peasants' War.