February 2024
New book on Müntzer
Müntzer book coverMy new book on Thomas Müntzer was published by Verso Books in February 2024. It appears initially as a hardback and an ebook, with a paperback version following in 2025, nicely in time for the 500th anniversary.
The book will tell you everything you need to know about Thomas: his life, the historical background, his theology, the people he encountered, his friends and enemies, his participation in the Peasants' War, and his legacy. I have steered well clear of making it an "academic" work, and have aimed for readability and - to the extent that the German Reformation can be such - entertainment.
It will be available in the proverbial all good bookshops, as well as the usual places on line.
More details can be found here...

Some reviews ...
"Evocative, exquisitely detailed". Michael Ledger-Lomas, Jacobin (USA), 11 March 2024.
"Highly readable". Peter Marshall, Literary Review (UK), 1 March 2024.
"Marvellous romp". Stuart Jeffries, The Spectator (UK), 17 February 2024.
"Blisteringly good". Dan Brooks, The Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2024.
"Well researched". Publishers Weekly (USA), December 2023.

For the full reviews and more, tap here...

June 2022

Tom Scott (1947-2022)
Sad to say, the great German Reformation scholar and historian, Tom Scott, has died.
Tom's work on German history in the period around 1500, with particular reference to the Peasants' War (Bauernkrieg) and Thomas Müntzer, was - and still is - outstanding. His short biography of Müntzer, published in 1989, remains one of the very best in English; and the unparalleled collection of documents which he co-edited with Bob Scribner - The German Peasants' War : A History in Documents (1991) - is perhaps the very best accessible collection of such documents in any language. At the time of his death, Tom was planning a new edition of the 'documents' book, with a view to re-issuing it in time for 2025. It is to be hoped that, at the very least, the book will be re-issued in it original form.

April 2021

A new book...but what is it?
vuillard war of poor image The French author Eric Vuillard published La Guerre des Pauvres back in 2019. It is a (very) short biography of Thomas Müntzer. In 2020 it was translated into English as The War of the Poor and published in the USA and UK. And at the end of March 2021, it has been long-listed for the prestigious International Booker Prize. All very good, one might think - Müntzer having his profile raised.
But what a disappointment it is! If only Vuillard had spent just a little time doing his research, instead of practising his undoubted skills at docu-poetry. It kicks off on page 1 with Müntzer's father being executed - a hoary legend which was rejected by all respectable historians several decades ago. It skims elegantly but superficially across Müntzer's life, pokes pointless fun at the name of the town of Zwickau, suggests Müntzer was mad, and paints some melodramatic pictures - entirely based on the author's imagination, and certainly not on fact - of the battle at Frankenhausen.
This book has some admirable gung-ho stylistics. But do not confuse it with a biography. Maybe it doesn't claim to be a biography or a history - but, if so, what is the point of it? A book about an actual person should at the very least stick to any facts that are known, before inventing new ones. This book does both its author and Thomas Müntzer a great disservice.

April 2019

vogler muntzer image Following on from the 2013 bibliography compiled by Marion Dammaschke and Günter Vogler, Prof. Vogler has now published the first volume of two, in which he looks at the historiography of Müntzer over time. This should prove to be an extremely valuable study. Its title is Müntzerbild und Müntzerforschung vom 16. bis zum 21. Jahrhundert: Band 1: 1519-1789 and further details can be viewed by clicking here.
Volume 2 (1789 to 2017) was published in 2021 - - click here for further details....

April 2018

Siegfried Bräuer (1930-2018)
Siegfried Bräuer, one of the most respected German theologians/historians of the post-war era, died in March 2018. He was for several decades one of the foremost world experts on Thomas Müntzer. His contributions to our knowledge of Müntzer include dozens of articles, books and editions of his works - most recently, the definitive collection of Müntzer's 'Letters' (co-edited with Martin Kobuch, 2010) and his share of the recent wide-ranging biography of Müntzer (written in collaboration with Günter Vogler, 2016).
Investigate our on-line bibliographyvisitfor a selection of some of these works; see also two articles herevisit... Professor Bräuer will be sadly missed.

October 2017

It's the Reformation, Jim, but not as we know it...
It isn't often that I feel moved to comment on artistic endeavours. However, the BBC's decision to broadcast a 2-part tv film commissioned by Germany's ZDF network has moved me. The English title for the film is Reformation.
As something of a first, Müntzer gets equal billing with Luther. Indeed, Müntzer is portrayed far more sympathetically than Luther - who comes across as something of a weak-willed and indecisive spirit. (And let's not even talk about the dilly-dallying Karlstadt!) All of which is a bit of a shame, since the film is more like Monty Python and the Holy Reformation than anything based on fact. All the right names are there (and then some), but that's about as far as it goes.
We never knew, for example, that Müntzer spent the entire period from 1518-25 in Jüterbog. That he was on various occasions tortured (even crucified) by the henchmen of Erzbischof Albrecht of Magdeburg (partly because, Robin-Hood-style, he had robbed Albrecht's indulgence seller). That Müntzer, Luther and Karlstadt were all best drinking buddies for several years. That Ottilie von Gersen (Müntzer's wife) and Katharina vom Bora (Luther's wife) were best girlfriends at the same nunnery. That Müntzer shacked up with Ottilie from 1518 onwards. That Müntzer was beaten as a boy by his father. That he was already burning down chapels in 1522. And so on, and so on... Oh, so, so many things we never suspected!
I fear that every new scene brought expletives to my lips. To call the thing a travesty is to be overly polite. The film was made on behalf of ZDF, in 2017, and shot largely in the Czech Republic (which clearly does not have a single location to stand in for Allstedt or Mühlhausen! Or even Prague...)
One thing missing from the credits that rolled was the name of the scriptwriter - which probably makes sense, since there may not have been one.

You could click here to view it on BBC iPlayer (if it is still there...) If not, then look for details at the IMDB website, or you may be able to track it down using the German title Zwischen Himmel und Hölle... Or not.

July 2017

Doug Miller - Frankenhausen 1525 A new book has just been published by Prof. Doug Miller, analysing the battle of Frankenhausen in May 1525. This generously illustrated study brings together in painstaking detail all that we know of the preparations of the two armies, and of the defeat of the peasants and plebeians whose leaders included Thomas Müntzer.
More details of the book can be viewed by clicking here...

May 2017

Celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the German Reformation may be far and few between in the UK, but the BBC has broadcast a series of talks on the matter at the beginning of May.
There are five 15-minute talks, given by a fine collection of respected academics, and one amateur. All five talks are currently available for catch-up or download now on the BBC iPlayer website - click iPlayer? here...
Subjects and speakers are as follows :
  • Martin Luther.      by Prof Lyndal Roper of Oxford
  • Thomas Müntzer      Andy Drummond
  • Katarina von Bora (Luther's wife)      Dr Charlotte Woodford of Cambridge
  • Johann Walter (Lutheran composer)      Dr Stephen Rose of Royal Holloway, London
  • Philipp Melanchthon (Luther's main collaborator)       Prof Brian Cummings of York
Something, then, for almost everyone !

December 2016

New books: Click here to view

A book on Müntzer and Luther was published in the summer - click here for details.
It examines the relationship between the two men in some detail.

June 2016

New books: Click here to view

A new biography and study of Müntzer has just appeared in Germany - click here for details.
It is co-authored by two of the foremost German authorities on our man - Siegfried Bräuer and Günter Vogler.
Its 540 pages contains much that is of interest, and much that will inspire and provoke.

July 2015

New books: Goertz biography

A new and completely revised edition of Hans-Jürgen Goertz' biography of Müntzer (first edition back in 1989) has appeared - click here for details.
It's in German. The first edition (1989, trans.1993) was excellent and much has been added and refined in this second, very welcome edition.

September 2015

Wiki LogoThe article on Thomas Müntzer appearing on the English-language version of Wikipedia has now been completely revised, corrected and improved.