THE PEASANT'S WAR which raged across Germany in 1525 was the largest peasant rebellion in European history. An old woodcut depicts the banner behind which the rebels rallied. It bore the word Fryheit, which in modern German is spelled as Freiheit and which means freedom. The peasants' rebellion failed, in part due to its own excesses.
IN 1611, SHAKESPEARE invoked the word "freedom" in his great drama The Tempest. At the end of the 2nd act, the slave Caliban pledges his loyalty to Stephano, a drunken butler, in a plot to murder his master Prospero, a nobleman. "Freedom, hey-day! hey-day, freedom! freedom! hey day freedom!" cries out the demented and drunken Caliban, who has only traded one master for a new and worse one.
WHAT ABOUT TODAY? Do we have freedom now or do we only think we have it? For more on this question, see pages 5-6.