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The Imperial Knights were a group of minor nobles in the Holy Roman Empire, mostly in Western Germany. They had been in economic decline since the end of the Crusades in the mid 14th century and in their political power had been declining since the beginning of the 15th century. They had even been sidelined in their speciality role of war due to the rise of the infantryman.

Many of them became robber barons just to make money. Others exercised their Imperial right to declare war on fellow nobles.

The Imperial Knights were the first group in the Holy Roman Empire to adopt Lutheranism and were an important first step in the reformation. They chose to adopt Luther’s ideas because at the Diet of Worms, 1521 the Emperor receded the law allowing to declare war on fellow nobles and for many Knights this was the last straw.

However they took Luther’s anti-Papal and nationalist views to the extreme by attacking and looting monasteries. This was a common misinterpretation of Lutheran beliefs to justify thugery.

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