The German Peasants' War, Great Peasants' War or Great Peasants' Revolt (German: Deutscher Bauernkrieg) was a widespread popular revolt in the German-speaking areas of Central Europe, 1524–1525. It failed because of the intense opposition of the aristocracy, who slaughtered up to 100,000 of the 300,000 poorly armed peasants and farmers. The survivors were fined and achieved few if any of their goals. The war consisted, like the preceding Bundschuh movement and the Hussite Wars, of a series of both economic and religious revolts in which peasants and farmers, often supported by Protestant clergy, took the lead. The German Peasants' War was Europe's largest and most widespread popular uprising prior to the French Revolution of 1789. The fighting was at its height in the spring and summer of 1525.
The war began with separate insurrections, beginning in the southwestern part of what is now Germany and neighboring Alsace, and spread in subsequent insurrections to the central and eastern areas of Germany and present-day Austria. After the uprising in Germany was suppressed, it flared briefly in several Swiss Cantons.
In mounting their insurrection, peasants faced insurmountable hurdles. The democratic nature of their movement left them without a command structure and they lacked artillery and cavalry. Most of them had little, if any, military experience. In combat they often turned and fled, and were massacred by their pursuers. The opposition had experienced military leaders, well-equipped and disciplined armies, and ample funding.
The revolt incorporated some principles and rhetoric from the emerging Protestant Reformation, through which the peasants sought freedom and influence. Historians have interpreted the economic aspects of the German Peasants' War differently and social and cultural historians continue to disagree on its causes and nature.