The issue of social revolution in the Reformation cannot be separated from resistance theory; indeed, the leading Reformers – Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin – made a significant contribution to elaborating doctrines of resistance, usually ex negativo, it has to be admitted: that is, by setting strict limits on the legitimacy and appropriateness of opposition to secular authority. Luther’s views are well known, from the time of A Sincere Admonition to All Christians, Warning Them Against Insurrection and Rebellion (1522), which ruled out any possibility of legitimate revolt by the common man.1 And these views were of course iterated and potentiated during the Peasants’ War. But by the 1530s, doubtless alarmed at the threat to the Gospel posed by the hardening confessional antagonisms throughout Germany, Luther subtly shifted his stance. In his Exposition of Psalm 101 (1534-35), he acknowledged those he termed the Wunderleute Gottes, those who were possessed of such supervening spiritual authority that they, as individuals, might depose an unjust ruler, provided that they derived no personal advantage therefrom. Because they possessed a direct line to God, they had no need of human advice on the configuration of righteous government. Such men, argued Luther, were extremely rare, and were certainly never to be found among the ranks of the peasantry.2 Calvin, too, although resolutely opposed to revolutionary resistance, acknowledged the possibility of a human angel of retribution, an avenger of faith sent by God, but such persons were not only exceedingly rare: they could never be sure of their appointed role. Calvin looked rather to the Estates as guardians of right rule, who by their office had the right to resist tyranny (on the model of the ephors of Sparta or the Roman tribunes).3