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THOMAS MÜNTZER

Thomas Müntzer - maybe - click to view full-size My new book about Thomas Müntzer has now been published (February 2024). It contains a biography, an analysis of his religious doctrines - and how these compelled him to take up the cause of the poor - and a review of how he has been treated by historians over the past 500 years.
To read more about this book, click here. (You know it makes sense...)

Reviews of the book are to be found below, along with links to interviews, and any startling news.

So ... who was this Müntzer, then?
Frankenhausen PanoramaWhy not just click on the image here on the left, for a colourful depiction of Müntzer's last battle...? Born in 1489 in the Harz Mountains of Germany, Thomas Müntzer was a contemporary of Martin Luther. Like Luther, he worked tirelessly to sweep away the old corrupt and discredited Roman church, and build a new one fit for Germans. Like Luther, he called for a new interpretation of the Bible. There, the resemblances end. In the tragic unravelling of the brief and bloody Peasant War in Germany, Müntzer died on the executioner's block in May 1525. He had made the mistake of siding with the discontented peasants and townspeople of Germany. He had tried to push the Reformation further than it was supposed to go. For that, he earned the hatred of the German princes (both Lutheran and Catholic) and most especially of Luther himself.
For 500 years, he has provoked detestation and admiration in almost equal amounts. It took historians almost 450 years to even begin to understand the complexity of the man and his teachings. He has been seen as an early Communist and a people's hero - for both roles, praised and vilified. In the past 100 years, he has inspired at least 150 novels, poems, films and other artistic productions. In the past 60 years, over two thousand books, articles and essays have appeared.


Reviews ...

Müntzer bio cover Excellent. "An excellent history of the sixteenth-century radical Thomas Müntzer brings the radical Reformation and the dawn of the modern era into focus."
Dominic Alexander, Counterfire (UK), 6 June 2024.

Evocative, exquisitely detailed. "Andrew Drummond’s skeptical and compassionate biography documents a life that is as much a warning as an inspiration to the modern left. Its evocative, exquisitely detailed panorama of Reformation Germany leads us to reflect on the tangled links between religious zeal and the successful exercise of political power. "
Michael Ledger-Lomas, Jacobin (USA), 11 March 2024.

Highly readable. "Drummond’s biography of this volatile and subversive thinker is both highly readable and carefully researched, drawing on specialist scholarship in both English and German alongside the reformer’s own writings. Little is known for certain about Müntzer’s life prior to 1523, but Drummond pieces the clues together skilfully and provides thoughtful accounts... A lively and engaging biography of Müntzer, the first in English for several decades... "
Peter Marshall, Literary Review (UK), 1 March 2024. (Subscription required for online edition)

Marvellous romp. "Drummond’s marvellous romp of a biography – part jolly Simon Winder-like deepdive into 16th-century Germania, part sagacious reflection on the Reformation in the manner of Diarmaid MacCulloch – aims to free Müntzer from his detractors. ... If history is mostly written by the winners, then what Drummond does here is a valuable corrective, showing us that losers’ stories warrant telling too.."
Stuart Jeffries, The Spectator (UK), 17 February 2024. (Subscription required for online edition)

Blisteringly good. "Thomas Müntzer made Martin Luther look tame. Andrew Drummond's lively history follows his challenge to the Pope and the German princes alike... Drummond has written a blisteringly good book about personal enmity, and the difference between revolution and reform."
Dan Brooks, The Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2024.

Fantastic account. "Andrew Drummond's fantastic account of his life, ideas and fate is a brilliant reaffirmation of the importance of Müntzer for contemporary times. Told with a firm grasp of the archival material, fresh new translations of Müntzer's ideas and a wry sense of humour, this is a book for the 500th anniversary that everyone should read.
Martin Empson (The Resolute Reader), January 2024.

Well researched. "Drummond makes a virtue of the scant information available, letting Müntzer fade into the background during wide-ranging explorations of the disparate forces that coalesced into the Reformation movement. Those interested in the political and religious struggles that shaped the modern world will delight in this well-researched case study in zeal."
Publishers Weekly (USA), December 2023.

"At last – a new account for our times of Thomas Müntzer, theologian and revolutionary. Drummond brings Müntzer and his world vividly to life. He shows us just why Müntzer hated Luther, and how he came to take up arms. What did it mean to be a revolutionary in sixteenth-century Germany? – Drummond shows us. You will be gripped and inspired by this exciting story – I couldn’t put it down."
Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History at Oxford, and author of Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet

"Posterity has endorsed not just Luther’s victory, but also his determined character assassination of his rival. Andrew Drummond’s scholarly but eminently readable, thoughtful, thorough and at times witty biography of Müntzer redresses the balance for English-speaking audiences
Professor Michael Russell, University of Glasgow


... and Interviews and News...

Müntzer by Stefan Klausewitz. June 2024
The preacher Too Radical for Luther. This is an interview I did with Professor Suzannah Lipscombe for the Not Just the Tudors podcast. I did my best to explain the intricacies of the religion, politics and society of 16th century Germany. It was a challenge! You can listen to it via your favoured podcast app, or access it here (look for the title, or episode 326).
March 2024
Against the Godless Tyrants. I had a long conversation with Tarence Ray of the Trillbillies Workers' Party in the USA, which was recorded as a podcast on the book. It is now available for listening... here.
February 2024
Dastardly Theology. My publisher Verso organised an podcast conversation on the subject of Thomas Müntzer, which included valuable contributions from the medievalist Eleanor Janega, and some slightly less convincing comments by myself. You may find it of interest. To listen to all or some of it, click here.
February 2024
I did an online interview as contribution to a podcast issued by a Berlin-based organisation, the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung The podcast provides a good dose of background information about the German Peasants' War of 1524/25; my contribution, sounding much as if it came from the bottom of a well, is near the end. And the other downside is that the entire podcast is in German... To listen to this podcast, click here and then scroll down to the entry entitled «Rosalux History», Folge 26: Der Bauernkrieg and then click on the little red microphone symbol.