Why So Much Poverty in 16th Century Germany?

In many parts of Europe the increase in population began to outstrip improvements in agriculture from about 1500 onwards and this process continued in many parts till well into 1540s. Different parts of Europe were affected at slightly different times within the period c. 1500-1550 and in many areas there were peasant uprisings which were usually suppressed with appalling savagery (with very cruel and unusual punishments for some of the leaders, for example). These uprisings sometimes became interwoven with the religious upheavals of the period.

On the whole, the worst affected areas were those far removed from major trade routes, such as much of Hungary and some inland parts of Germany. A poor harvest, or series of poor harvests in the context of a more general shortage of food, often had disastrous effects.

The situation stabilized somewhat after about 1550.

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