Skip to main content

NZD Annual Lectures - Lyndal Roper: Manhood, Revolt and Emotion: The German Peasants’ War 1524-6 - Lecture 3: Space and Movement

German Peasants War
Wednesday, March 3, 2021, 5:30 pm – 7:10 pm

Pre-registration is required. Click here to register by February 25.


2020/21 Natalie Zemon Davis Annual Lectures (Three Lectures, March 1-3)

Manhood, Revolt and Emotion: The German Peasants’ War 1524-6

The German Peasants' War of 1524/5 was the biggest popular uprising in Western Europe before the French Revolution. It altered the course of the Lutheran Reformation and made it far more conservative. Thousands were slain as the revolt was suppressed. Despite its importance, the Peasants’ War has largely fallen out of modern memory. The world-wide celebrations of the 500 years of the Reformation in 2017 had little to say about it, and yet, its place in historiography encapsulates the political divisions between East and West: until 1989, Thomas Müntzer remained the hero of East Germany, while the former West celebrated Luther. This is why understanding the revolt and its legacies is so important today, over a generation since the fall of the so-called Iron Curtain.

Lecture 3: Space and Movement (March 3)

Contemporaries almost universally referred to the War as the ‘Aufruhr’, the turbulence. In his infamous condemnation of the Peasants, Luther used the word six times in the key paragraph. Aufruhr must be punished, and those involved ‘slain like mad dogs’. This lecture draws on ideas from fluid mechanics to understand why contemporaries experienced the war as ‘turbulence’, exploring where, when and how peasants moved and formed bands. It concludes with a discussion of Dürer’s Dream of 1525.


Lyndal Roper was born in Melbourne, Australia and did her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne. From there she went to Tübingen where she studied with Professor Heiko Oberman and with Dr Ingrid Bátori. She met Bob Scribner who was driving from archive to archive in his camper van and moved to London to do her doctorate under his supervision. She has worked at King’s College London; Royal Holloway, University of London; Balliol College Oxford and is now Regius Professor of History, the first woman to hold the post. She has published on the history of the Reformation and gender relations, sexuality, witchcraft, and has written a best-selling biography of Martin Luther.