Greatness nipped in the bud characterizes MÜHLHAUSEN. A former medieval free imperial city visited by kings and emperors, it is now bypassed by tourists on a pilgrimage to the Eisenach–Erfurt–Weimar holy trinity, although a lack of visitors only adds to the atmosphere of the Altstadt, a mazey oval of cobbled alleys ringed by one of the few extant medieval city walls in Germany. Its place in history books is as the hotbed of the Peasants’ War of 1525, sparked by its renegade priest Thomas Müntzer. A social radical who despised Lutheran doctrine with the same passion as Catholicism, he led eight thousand farmers into battle against the princes at Frankenhausen with the rallying cry that God was on their side. Apparently not. Utterly defeated then tortured, Müntzer was decapitated in his home town, something which saw him held up as a proto-Marxist hero by GDR authorities and placed on the 5 Mark note. They conveniently overlooked the fact that Müntzer interpreted the defeat as God’s judgement on an unworthy populace. Mühlhausen may have quietly dropped the “Thomas-Müntzer-Stadt” label, but its early hero remains the star.

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