Some of his letters and other works..

Around 94 letters written by, or to, Thomas Müntzer still exist today. On his many travels, he always carried around a satchel containing his correspondence - clearly they were of importance to him. What is almost beyond astonishing is that they were allowed to be preserved, given the revulsion with which Müntzer was treated for hundreds of years. A few, certainly, were deliberately preserved by the Lutherans, as evidence of the wickedness of the 'Satan of Allstedt'. Some of his letters are set out below. Relevant other material is available - unpublished essays, such as the so-called Prague Manifesto (perhaps more accurately: Broadsheet from Prague?), his slightly untrustworthy Confession issued after his capture in May 1525.
 
Click here to readLetter from Egranus to Müntzer, 16 February 1521
Click here to readLetter from Johann Agricola to Müntzer, February 1521
Click here to readThe 'Prague Manifesto', Autumn 1521.
Click here to readLetter from Müntzer to Philipp Melanchthon, 27 March 1522.
Click here to readLetter from Andreas Karlstadt to Müntzer, 21 December 1522.
Click here to readLetter from Müntzer to his followers in Halle, 19 March 1523.
Click here to readLetter to Prince Friedrich, Elector of Saxony, 4 October 1523.
Click here to readLetter to Count Ernst of Mansfeld, 22 September 1523.
Click here to readLetter to Christoph Meinhard of Eisleben, 30 May 1524.
Click here to readLetter from people of Allstedt to Duke Johann of Saxony, 14 June 1524.
Click here to readLetter to Duke Johann of Saxony, 13 July 1524.
Click here to readLetter to authorities in Sangerhausen, 15 July 1524.
Click here to readLetter to persecuted Christians of Sangerhausen, 15 July 1524.
Click here to readTwo letters to Hans Zeiss, 22 July 1524.
Click here to readLetter to Hans Zeiss, 25 July 1524.
Click here to readLetter to Prince Friedrich, Elector of Saxony, 3 August 1524.
Click here to readLetter to the people of Allstedt, 15 August 1524.
Click here to readLetter to Christoph Meinhard of Eisleben, November/December 1524.
Click here to readLetter to the people of Allstedt (aka Letter to the Miners), 26 April 1525
Click here to readLetter to Count Ernst of Mansfeld , 12 May 1525
Click here to readLetter to Count Ernst's Lutheran brother, Albrecht of Mansfeld, 12 May 1525.
Click here to readThomas Müntzer`s Confession and Recantation (16/17 May 1525)

Letter written by Egranus to Müntzer February 1521.
This short and rather bitter letter was written by the Humanist reformer Johannes Egranus to Müntzer, after the latter had attacked him openly from the pulpit. It provides a flavour of the controversy then raging in Zwickau.
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Letter written by Agricola to Müntzer February 1521.
This letter was written by Johann Agricola from Wittenberg - almost certainly at Luther's insistence - in reply to one or more letters from Müntzer (now lost) complaining about Egranus. If Müntzer had hoped for support from Luther's camp, he certainly did not get it here...
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The 'Prague Manifesto'. (1521).
Prague ManifestoThis document, written in Prague but never published, represents Müntzer's stock-take of his experiences in Zwickau and an attempt to clarify the foundations of his own personal faith. (The term 'Manifesto' is a little misleading, since it has no title, and the text does not contain the M-word; one feels at liberty to give it a different title than the one selected in 1930's - how about Broadsheet from Prague?) The document is extant in four copies, each different: the first, dated 1 November, is a fairly short version in German; the second, dated 25 November, is a much-extended German version. The third is in Czech, and the fourth in Latin, both free translations of the longer German version. The shorter German version was written on a large piece of paper, measuring about 42cm by 33cm. There is speculation that it may have been intended - à la Luther - for pinning up on a church door; but there no corroborating evidence of that -and the paper has writing on both sides, which would have somewhat spoiled the effect.
It begins: I, Thomas Müntzer, born in Stolberg and resident in Prague, the town of the dear and saintly fighter Jan Hus, propose to fill the resounding and moving trumpets with the new praise of the Holy Spirit. With my whole heart I bear witness, complaining bitterly to all the churches of the Elect, and to the whole world, wherever these words may reach. Christ and all the Elect, who have known me from my youth, strengthen such a resolve.
The main thrust of the document is to delineate clearly between a belief nurtured by the dead words of the Scripture and a living, experienced belief, as experienced by 'the Elect'. Here the opposition is between 'living word' and 'dead thing', present and past. This opposition was the most basic dialectic in Müntzer's thought, and from it can be traced much of his other teaching. It reflected, distortedly, the need of the epoch for a new ideology that was not the child of an old age of foreign exploitation and oppression, for an ideology that permitted the assimilation of immediate and new experience in order to drive forward from all that was past. He spares neither priest nor theologian: Oh woe, woe unto the preachers who teach like Balaam, who speak the word in their snouts but whose hearts are more than one thousand times one thousand miles away.
He signs off as follows: All villainry must urgently be brought to light. Oho ! how ripe are the rotten apples ! Oho ! how ripe are the Elect ! The time of the harvest is here ! For this, God has sent me to his harvest. I have made my sickle sharp, for my thoughts are eager for truth and my lips, skin, hands, hair, soul, body and life curse the faithless. So that I can do this correctly, I have come into your country, my dearest Bohemians. I ask of you no more than that you should apply yourselves to the study of God's word from the very mouth of God, by which you will yourselves see, hear and understand how the whole world has been deceived by the deaf priests... For in your country will begin the new apostolic Church, and then everywhere else... Whoever despises this advice is already in the hands of the Turks. And then the raging heat of the true Antichrist will reign, he who is the real opponent of Christ; Christ will shortly give the kingdom of this world to His Elect for all eternity... Thomas Müntzer wishes to pray to no dumb God but to a speaking God.
The dearest Bohemians responded to this stirring call by expelling him from town.
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Letter written by Müntzer to Philipp Melanchton 27 March 1522.
This is a very curious letter, outlining some of Müntzer's more obscure differences with Wittenberg. Specifically here, the religious significance of the marriage-bed, and in what manner a man and a woman might conceive a child: we must make use of wives just as if we did not have them... Aside from this, it is clear that at this fairly early date, Müntzer had significant differences with Wittenberg policy...
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Letter from Andreas Karlstadt to Müntzer, 21 December 1522.
This brief and very hurried letter (see how many times Karlstadt puts things off "until later"!) was an attempt by Karlstadt to link up with Müntzer - but at a critical distance.
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Letter from Müntzer to his followers in Halle, 19 March 1523
Having been expelled from his employment at a nunnery near Halle, Müntzer puts a brave face on things, urges his followers to remain firm and - if possible - send him some money to tide him over.
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Letter written to Count Ernst of Mansfeld, 22 September 1523.
When the Catholic Count Ernst of Mansfeld banned his subjects from travelling to Allstedt to hear the reformed church services conducted there by Thomas Müntzer, it is doubtful that he appreciated what he had let himself in for. The preacher of Allstedt was not slow to speak his mind.
Writing to Count Ernst in a 'Christian' manner, Müntzer advised: The castellan and Council of Allstedt have shown me your letter, according to which I am supposed to have called you 'a heretical scoundrel' and 'a curse upon the people'. This is quite true, for I am well aware - yes, it is common knowledge - that you have strictly forbidden your people with a public edict from attending my heretical Mass or sermon. To this I have said - and I will denounce you before all Christian people - that you have had the insolence to ban the Holy Gospel, and if (God forbid) you persist in such raging and insane bans, then from today onwards, for as long as my blood still pulses, I will name you on paper a damned and ignorant man - and not only before all Christendom, but I will also have my books translated into many tongues and scold you before the Turks, the Heathens and the Jews. And you should know that I do not fear you or anyone in the whole world in these great and just matters, for Christ cries murder at those who remove the key to the knowledge of God... Do not pull, or the old coat will rip the way you don't want... If you force me into print, then I will deal with you a thousand times worse than Luther did with the Pope...
The letter was signed: Thomas Müntzer, a destroyer of the faithless. Not much more need be said: Müntzer's attitude speaks volumes. He respected no social differences when it came to defending the word of God.
Not content with correcting the Count's errors, Müntzer also wrote to Prince Friedrich the Wise, on 4 October. This letter was more respectful, but the gist was the same: that reformed Christian practices were to be defended at all costs.
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Letter written to Prince Friedrich, Elector of Saxony, 4 October 1523.
This was written to the Electoral Prince, a firm supporter of Luther. Müntzer complains bitterly to Friedrich about the actions of Ernst of Mansfeld, warning him: if it becomes common practice to obstruct the gospel with human laws, then there will be confusion amongst the people, who should love their princes rather than fear them: Romans 13, where it says that the princes should not terrify the pious. But if that does happen, then the sword will be taken away from them and given to the zealous people to destroy the godless. And he ends by urging Friedrich as follows: You must work tirelessly so that our saviour, who sits on the right hand of God on the day of judgement (when he himself will put the sheep to pasture and drive the wild beasts from the herd) will be able to cast down mercifully the might of kings.
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Letter written to Christoph Meinhard of Eisleben, 30 May 1524.
This letter is also known as the Explanation of the 18th Psalm since that was its content, and that was how it was presented to an appalled world by the Lutheran Johann Agricola in May 1525. It is another summary presentation of Müntzer's main doctrines to a follower. The law of God is quite clear, it opens wide the eyes of the elect, and makes the godless utterly blind, it is a perfect teaching which illuminates the spirit of the true fear of God, something that happens when a person risks his life for the truth [...] Just as Paul stresses faith without any reliance on works, so do I stress the work of God in suffering
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Letter written by the Council and community of Allstedt to Duke Johann of Saxony, 14 June 1524.
Although the letter was sent in the name of we poor people, the Council and community of Allstedt, it was clearly dictated by Müntzer. In the letter (which is written very respectfully, but firmly), no excuse is given for the destruction of the chapel at Mallerbach; indeed, claiming rather disingenuously that no particular damage has been done by our people, and nothing that affects the common good, they ask that no further action be taken.
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Letter written to Duke Johann of Saxony, 13 July 1524.
Müntzer gives notice to the Duke, to whom he had just delivered his Sermon to the Princes, that he proposes to continue with his preaching and writing. If I should now be delayed or be obstructed in this task, then you must consider seriously what grievous damage will arise from any further delay.
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Letter to authorities in Sangerhausen, 15 July 1524
In the midst of the turmoil of the summer of 1524, the authorities in the neighbouring town of Sangerhausen - who supported repressive measures - feel the full force of Müntzer's wrath: I have to look on and watch while you slander and defame your own preachers. You dig out your own stupidity and use it as a fig-leaf so that no one might see that you are worshippers of man. I know that there is no one in this country more idolatrous than you... I tell you with hand on heart: if you do not improve yourselves, then I will no longer hold back those people who wish to make trouble for you.
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Letter to the persecuted Christians of Sangerhausen, 15 July 1524
On the same day as writing to the authorities at Sangerhausen, Müntzer also wrote to the victims of the perceived persecution, urging them to stand firm and trust in God: I tell you truly that the time has now come when blood will be shed across the whole obstinate world because of its lack of faith. And then everyone, who did not wish to risk anything previously for God's sake, will find their possessions taken away from them and given to the devil, without any thanks: this I know for certain. Why do you persist in letting yourselves be led around by the nose ? For we know quite well, and it is proven by the holy scriptures that the lords and princes, as they are now, are no Christians. And our priests and monks worship the devil and are even worse Christians. All your preachers are hypocrites and worshippers of Man. What do you expect ? There will be very little hope for the princes. Anyone who has a desire to fight against the Turk does not have far to go: he is here on our doorsteps.
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Two letters to Hans Zeiss of Allstedt, 22 July 1524
In July of 1524, the conflict between the Thuringian radicals and their feudal lords was coming to a head. People who had fled oppression in neighbouring parishes, now turned up in Allstedt seeking help. But their reception by the officials there was - to say the least - equivocal. Müntzer therefore intervened with Hans Zeiss, the local administrator of the Saxon princes, seeking clarification and urging him to steadfastness. On 22nd July, he wrote two letters to Zeiss in quick succession. The fugitives are going to turn up here every day: should we let the cries of those poor people make us the friends of the tyrants? That does not agree with the gospel etc. I tell you that a dreadful time of discord will arrive. You must not keep turning a blind eye to what these other districts are doing. For it is as clear as day that they have absolutely no respect for the Christian faith. Their power will come to an end, and it will very shortly be handed over to the common people. Therefore you should act with confidence: wherever the gospel has gone out, Christians will not be put in prison to please those rascals.
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Another letter to Hans Zeiss, 25 July 1524
Following up on his earlier letters, Müntzer now sets out his ideas on how Christians in Allstedt should form themselves into a league for self-defence. By describing these plans to Zeiss, it is clear that he still hoped to sway the locally-based authority. His thoughts are very interesting, and go some way to clarifying just how much - or little - Müntzer was some kind of a 'proto-Marxist revolutionary'... We must establish a simple league that allows the common man to join with pious administrators purely for the sake of the gospel. But if rascals and rogues should join the league, in order to abuse it, then they should be handed over to the tyrants or we should pass judgement on them ourselves, as circumstances suggest. And where feudal dues are concerned, it must be made quite clear to the members of this league that they should not think that they are thereby permitted to give nothing to the tyrants [...] The most important thing is to make sure that no one should put his trust in the league, because he who puts his trust in man is accursed by God. It should only act as threat to the godless, so that they stop their raging [...] The league has no other goal than self-defence, which is something no one can refuse...
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Letter written to Prince Friedrich, Elector of Saxony, 3 August 1524.
Prince Friedrich was the brother of Duke Johann. In this letter, Müntzer states quite clearly what he expects of his princes: So if you wish to be my gracious lord and prince, then I will spread my aforesaid Christian faith in the bright light of day to the whole world, both orally and in writing, and I will expound it with complete honesty. But if such an offer does not meet with your benevolent wish, then you must reflect that the common people will feel dread and hopelessness towards you and others like you
(Compare, incidentally, the opening address of this letter with the more respectful one to the same Friedrich in October 1523 - see above...)
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Letter written to the people of Allstedt, 15 August 1524.
Here, Müntzer upbraids his ex-parishioners of Allstedt for their lack of courage in dealing with the authorities. I have seen such fear in you, when you were reminded of your oaths and responsibilities, that I could not stay with you to be a trouble to you any longer: I would not have been able to keep my lips to be sealed against announcing the righteousness of God.
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Letter written to Christoph Meinhard of Eisleben, November/December 1524.
This letter gives us almost the only glimpse of Müntzer's activities in the city of Nuremberg. He made it quite clear that he had come there not to preach, but to gain a wider following by printing his final two pamphlets - the Highly Provoked Speech of Defence which was confiscated while still in the printing-shop in December 1524; and his Express Unmasking of the False Belief of which most of the print-run was confiscated. When the city authorities heard this, he writes, their ears fairly sang, because they like having good days. The sweat of the working people tastes sweet to them, so sweet, but it will turn into bitter gall. And then no debates or mock-battles will help them - the truth will out. The people are hungry, they must and they will eat.
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Letter written to the people of Allstedt (aka - Letter to the Miners), 26 or 27 April 1525.
Letter to Allstedt In late April of 1525, when all of South Germany was up in arms, and the peasants and plebeians of Middle Germany had joined the cause, Müntzer wrote one of his most stirring letters, addressed to the people of Allstedt for their encouragement.
This letter is also commonly known as the 'Letter to the Miners', since it calls for the miners of the Mansfeld area - those who had welcomed his reforms in Allstedt in 1523 and 1524 - to be contacted. Müntzer's very broad spectrum of support among the pre-proletariat - miners, salt-workers, weavers - marked him out as a leader of uncommon vision.
The letter shows quite clearly how Müntzer viewed the insurrection: May the pure fear of God be with you, dear brothers. How much longer will you sleep, how much longer will you resist God's Will because you think He has forsaken you? Begin now and fight the Lord's fight! It is high time... The peasants of Klettgau and Hegau in the Black Forest have risen, three times one thousand strong and the army is growing ever greater. My only worry is that the foolish people will accept some false peace-treaty ... Even if there are only three of you who stand tranquil in God and seek only his name and honour, then you will not fear a hundred thousand. So on, on, onwards, it is time...
On, on, onwards, for the fire is hot! Do not let your sword grow cold, do not let it hang loose in your hands! Smite cling clang on the anvil of Nimrod; cast down their towers! As long as they live, it is not possible to be emptied of the fear of man. You can be told nothing about God as long as they rule over you. On, onwards, as long as you live. God marches before you, so follow, follow! Act in God that He may strengthen you in the true belief without the fear of man, Amen.

The letter is signed Thomas Müntzer, a servant of God against the Godless. The insurrection of 1525 was perceived as an act for God against the godless tyrants, and its driving force was the pure fear of God, to the exclusion of any other considerations. After the military victory, the Elect could spread God's word.
Alas - it was not to be...
Note: the image reproduced above is of another letter written by Müntzer to Allstedt (March 1525), not of the famous letter discussed here...
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Letter written to Count Ernst of Mansfeld, 12 May 1525.
This letter was written by Müntzer from Frankenhausen, where the Thuringian peasanats and plebeians were gathered ready to face the army of the Princes. There is no room for compromise here: Now tell us, you miserable, wretched sack of maggots - who made you into a prince over the people whom God redeemed with his own precious blood? he begins; and he finishes with the following stirring words: So that you know also that we have been given our orders, I say this to you: the eternal living God has commanded that you be cast down from your throne by the power that has been given to us; for you are of no use to Christianity, you are a pernicious scourge of the friends of God. God has spoken of you and your like, Ezekiel 14 and 39, Daniel 7, Micah 3. Obadiah the prophet says that your nest must be ripped apart and destroyed utterly. We want to have your answer by this evening, or else we will hunt you down in the name of the God of hosts. So you know what to expect. We will not hesitate to carry out what God has commanded us to do. So do your best, too. I am coming for you
It is likely that the purpose of this letter was to goad Count Ernst into precipitate action before the rest of the princes' army arrived, and so to weaken the forces ranged against the rebels. In the event, it failed.
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Letter written to Count Albrecht of Mansfeld, 12 May 1525.
An attack on the Lutheran brother of Count Ernst, doubtless written in an attenopt to split the opposition: Have you not been able to spoon up from your Lutheran gruel, your Wittenberg soup, that which Ezekiel prophesied in his 37th chapter ? And have you not been able to taste in your Martin's peasant filth what the same prophet further said in the 39th chapter, that God would command all the birds of the air to feast on the flesh of the princes and commanded the unthinking beasts to lap up the blood of the big-wigs?
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Thomas Müntzer`s Confession and Recantation , 16 and 17 May 1525.
Confession After Müntzer`s capture in the immediate aftermath of the battle at Frankenhausen, he was carted off to Heldrungen Castle, the residence of his Catholic arch-enemy, Count Ernst of Mansfeld. Here he was subjected to interrogation and made confessions - 'voluntarily' at first and 'painfully' afterwards. The 'Confession', which was set to print and distributed across central and south Germany shortly afterwards, is a real rag-bag of statements, clearly reflecting the concerns of those - primarily Catholic - interrogating him. They range from the deadly serious to the absurdly irrelevant.
After the confession was done and dusted, a 'Recantation' was drawn up - almost certainly a document prepared without any consultation with Müntzer himself; on the same day, Müntzer put his name to a letter to his supporters in Mühlhausen, urging them to desist from rebellion - not an unreasonable thing for him to propose, given the complete defeat of the rebellion: any residual defiance of the Princes' armies would have resulted simply in the bloodshed of the rebels.
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