Of the many Lutheran tracts against Thomas Müntzer Ein nutzlicher Dialogus odder gesprechbuchlein zwischen einem Muentzerischem Schwermer vnd einem Euangelischem frumen Bawern (‘A Useful Dialogue or Conversation Booklet between a Müntzerite Fanatic and an Evangelical Pious Peasant’) is undoubtedly the least known.1 Two modern German editions exist, but there have been few attempts to analyze its contents in any depth.2 Even Max Steinmetz’s study of portrayals of Müntzer from Martin Luther to Friedrich Engels pays it cursory attention and fails to register its remarkable features.3 In the English-language literature it is barely mentioned. The pamphlet originally appeared anonymously, but its attribution to Johannes Agricola (1494-1566), the Wittenberg theologian
* The essay is dedicated to my colleague in Dublin, Dr Helga Robinson-Hammerstein. 1 Ein nutzlicher Dialogus odder gesprechbüchlein zwischen einem Muentzerischem
Schwärmer und einem Euangelischem frumen Bawern, Die straff der auffrurischen Schwermer zu Franckenhausen geschlagen belangende (Wittenberg: Hans Lufft, 1525). Schwärmer was Luther’s own term, deliberately invoking the swarming of bees, to describe those he saw as religious deviants, especially the Anabaptists. There is no agreed English translation: ‘enthusiasts’, ‘fanatics’, or ‘zealots’ are all possible. I prefer ‘fanatics’ because it has connotations of violence and extremism.