© Tom Scott and Bob Scribner 'The German Peasant's War. A History in Documents' (London: Humanities Press, 1991), p 158

03.38 The Massacre of Weinsberg, 16 April 1525 ©

Report of the Parson Johann Herolt.

In contrast to the generally moderate and pacific nature of the rebellion in Upper Swabia, peasants in Württemberg and in Franconia began to take a more militant and irreconcilable attitude towards the nobility, which led to the Massacre of Weinsberg.

On the holy Easter Day, 16 April, as the peasants were encamped at Neckarsulm, a carter called Semelhans arrived, who had brought salt into the castle of Weinsberg. He reported that the nobles and cavalry had gone down into the town, leaving almost no one in the castle. So the peasants roused themselves. Count Ludwig von Helfenstein, who was then the governor of Weinsberg, and others from the nobility who were in the garrison with him consoled the citizens of Weinsberg, and admonished them to be brave and not give in to the peasants, for [archduke Ferdinand] would not abandon them but save them... But lo, the peasants arrived so unexpectedly that the count and his subordinates could not return to the castle and had to remain in the town with the citizens. So the peasants scaled the walls, captured the countess and her children, plundered the castle, and then appeared before the town. But the townsfolk were peasant supporters, and opened the gates and towers to the peasants and let them in.

Then Lucifer and all his angels were let loose; for they raged and stormed no differently than if they were mad and possessed by every devil. First they seized the count, then the nobility and the cavalry, and some were stabbed as they resisted. Dietrich von Weiler fled into the church tower, and as he called down to the peasants for mercy, offering them money, someone fired a shot up at him and hit him, then climbed up and threw him out of the window. They then led lord Ludwig, Count of Helfenstein... to a field in the direction of Heilbronn and with him thirteen nobles, among whom were two ensigns, Rudolf von Eltershofen and Pleickhart von Ruchzingen. There they made a circle and made the well-born and the noble run the gauntlet with their servants, twenty-four persons in all. The count offered to give them a barrel of money if they would let him live, but there was no way out but to die. When the count saw that, he stood stock still until they stabbed him. Rudolf von Eltershofen went into the ring with his arms crossed and gave himself up willingly to death. Thus, all these were driven through the lances contrary to all the rules of war and afterwards dragged out naked and let lie there. May Almighty God have mercy on them and us! After all this, they set alight to the castle and burnt it, and then marched off to Würzburg.
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