freiheyt 1525. 500 years of the Peasants' War

Thuringian State Exhibition 2025

"On the freedom of a Christian". This is the title of Luther's most famous writing. It is kept in the Gotha Research Library and part of the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage. And freedom was what the serf peasants of the 16th century were after when they staged the uprising.

The reformer Martin Luther saw freedom rather as a spiritual good. The preacher Thomas Müntzer was concerned with more. He showed solidarity with the rebellious peasants in 1524 and ultimately became a leading figure in the German Peasants' War. The dramatic events culminated in a major battle near Frankenhausen on May 15, 1525. Around 8,000 peasants armed with scythes and flails faced a well-organised army of lansquenets. They lost the battle, and most of them lost their lives too. This included Müntzer, who was captured, tortured and beheaded a fortnight after the battle outside the gates of Mühlhausen.

In 2025, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt are bringing events back to light. At a time when freedom and justice are still being fought over around the world. Thuringia's state exhibition "freiheyt 1525. 500 years of the Peasants' War" focuses primarily on the historical sites in Mühlhausen and Bad Frankenhausen.

An exhibition at the Müntzer Memorial St. Mary’s in Mühlhausen will show a society in transition in the early 16th century. Visitors will be immersed in historical worlds and learn how the world of the early 16th century functioned. What constraints, opportunities and daily challenges there were.

The actual events of the Peasants' War of 1524/25 are at the centre of the exhibition in the Peasants' War Museum in Mühlhausen's Kornmarktkirche. The protagonists "have their say". The question of what actually led to the uprising is answered. And the events unfold in all their dramatic complexity. 

The Museum of Cultural History in Mühlhausen is focussing on this uprising was perceived by people. The interwoven memories plays a role here, as does political instrumentalisation in later times. Artists' views of the events are shown, and visitors are encouraged to question the term "freedom". How far can science go, for example? And is everything really allowed in art?

An "open history laboratory" in the All Saints' Church Museum in Mühlhausen offers space for discussion rounds, cultural events and modern formats of history education.

The Panorama Museum is the central exhibition venue in Bad Frankenhausen. Its location: the historic battlefield of 1525. At the centre of the exhibition is the monumental 360-degree painting by Werner Tübke. The title: "Early Bourgeois Revolution in Germany". The content: a lavish panorama of the 16th century, a gigantic hidden object picture of the Renaissance period. Early humanists, reformers and rebels, great artists and little people can be seen. The way people saw their world in those days, their ideas and feelings are reproduced in powerful images. An accompanying exhibition connects with this and focuses on the historical models of the central panorama painting.

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