Ozment, Steven E. The Age of Reform: 1250-1550 : An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe. New Haven, Conn. ; London: Yale University Press, 1980. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Chapter 7, “Society and Politics in the German Reformation” pp. 245-289. Part 3, “The Revolt of the Common Man” pp. 272-289.
Many have questioned Luther’s condemnation of the Peasants’ Revolt. In Marxist thought, “He is portrayed as having inspired the peasants to rebellion with his gospel of spiritual freedom and equality, only to turn his back abruptly on them when they claimed a full share of the fruits of reform” (Ozment 1980, 273). In fact, Ozment demonstrates, there were additional factors at work in the revolts, from taxes to land confiscations (Ozment 1980, 273). Pamphleteers from Memmingen identified twelve desires of the revolt, described by Ozment on pp. 275-277. The authors agreed that they would not request any conditions which were found unwarranted in Scripture. While Luther did not intend to engage in social engineering he certainly did urge investigation of Scripture. The Roman opposition was quick to label the revolt as Lutheran and the Lutherans quickly adopted the caricatures for their own purposes (Ozment 1980, 277) considers the ongoing activism as primarily material, not spiritual (Ozment 1980, 279).
Luther’s response to the revolt was that it was caused by the excessive desires of the nobility. Yet the injustice did not excuse armed response (Ozment 1980, 281). Luther preferred to seek distinctions between human rights and Christian privilege (Ozment 1980, 283). The Memmingen Articles were not issues of the Gospel. He therefore could not affirm a concrete role of the Church in resolution.