The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. It was sparked by the 1517 posting of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals, and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people's faith in the Catholic Church and the Papacy which governed it. This, as well as many other factors, such as the mid 15th-century invention of the printing press, the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, the end of the Middle Ages, and the beginning of the modern era, contributed to the creation of Protestantism.
The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation put in to motion by the Council of Trent the most important ecumenical council since Nicaea II 800 years earlier (at the time, there had not been an ecumenical council since Lateran IV over 300 years prior, a length only to be matched by the interval between Trent and Vatican I ) and spearheaded by the Society of Jesus. In general, northern Europe, with the exception of Ireland and pockets of Britain, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.
The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well. The most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.
Religious situation in Europe
The Reformation window at St. Matthew's German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina depicts key events in the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church, by priests who opposed what they perceived as false doctrines and ecclesiastic malpractice especially the teaching and the sale of indulgences or the abuses thereof, and simony, the selling and buying of clerical offices that the reformers saw as evidence of the systemic corruption of the Church's Roman hierarchy, which included the Pope. In Germany, reformation ideals developed in 1520 when Martin Luther expressed doubts over the legitimacy of indulgences and the plenitudo potestatis of the pope. Martin Luther's excommunication on January 3, 1521, from the Catholic Church, was a main cause for the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther's spiritual predecessors included John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, who likewise had attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation began on 31 October 1517, in Wittenberg, Saxony, where Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the door of the Castle Church, in Wittenberg. The theses debated and criticized the Church and the Pope, but concentrated upon the selling of indulgences and doctrinal policies about purgatory, particular judgment, Catholic devotion to Mary, "The Mother of God", the intercession of and devotion to the saints, most of the sacraments, the mandatory clerical celibacy, including monasticism, and the authority of the Pope. In the event, other religious reformers, such as Ulrich Zwingli, soon followed Martin Luther s example.
The reformers soon disagreed among themselves and divided their movement according to doctrinal differences first between Luther and Zwingli, later between Luther and John Calvin consequently resulting in the establishment of different and rival Protestant Churches (denominations), such as the Lutheran, the Reformed, the Puritans, and the Presbyterian. Elsewhere, the religious reformation causes, processes, and effects were different; Anglicanism arose in England with the English Reformation, and most Protestant denominations derive from the Germanic denominations. The reformers also accelerated the development of the Counter-Reformation by the Catholic Church.
History and origins
Reformation and Counter Reformation in Europe. Protestant lands in blue (with gains and the losses due to the Counter Reformation), Roman Catholic in olive All mainstream Protestants generally date their doctrinal separation from the Roman Catholic Church to the 16th century, occasionally called the "Magisterial Reformation" because the ruling magistrates supported them; unlike the "Radical Reformation", which the State did not support. Older Protestant churches, such as the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren), Moravian Brethren (Bohemian Brethren) date their origins to Jan Hus in the early 15th century. As it was led by a Bohemian noble majority, and recognized, for a time, by the Basel Compacts, the Hussite Reformation was Europe s first Magisterial Reformation. One hundred years later, in Germany the protests erupted simultaneously, whilst under threat of Islamic Ottoman invasion , which especially distracted the German princes responsible for military defense.
Historical chart of the main Protestant branches
Unrest due to the Great Schism of Western Christianity (1378 1416) excited wars between princes, uprisings among the peasants, and widespread concern over corruption in the church. The first of a series of disruptive and new perspectives came from John Wycliffe at Oxford University, then from Jan Hus at the University of Prague. The Roman Catholic Church officially concluded this debate at the Council of Constance (1414 1417). The conclave condemned Jan Hus, who was executed by burning in spite of a promise of safe-conduct. Wycliffe was posthumously burned as a heretic.
The Council of Constance confirmed and strengthened the traditional medieval conception of church and empire. It did not address the national tensions, or the theological tensions stirred up during the previous century. The council could not prevent schism and the Hussite Wars in Bohemia.
Sixtus IV (1471 1484) established the practice of selling indulgences to be applied to the dead, thereby establishing a new stream of revenue with agents across Europe. Pope Alexander VI (1492 1503) was one of the most controversial of the Renaissance Popes. He fathered seven children, including Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia, by at least two mistresses. Fourteen years after his death, the corruption of the papacy that Pope Alexander VI exemplified particularly the sale of indulgences prompted Luther to write the The Ninety-Five Theses, which he nailed to the door of a church at Wittenberg in Saxony.
Luther's 95 Theses The protests against the corruption emanating from Rome began in earnest when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk at the university of Wittenberg, called in 1517 for a reopening of the debate on the sale of indulgences and the authority to absolve sin and remit one from purgatory. Luther's dissent marked a sudden outbreak of a new and irresistible force of discontent. The Reformers made heavy use of inexpensive pamphlets (using the relatively new printing press invented by Johannes Gutenberg) so there was swift movement of both ideas and documents, including The Ninety-Five Theses.
Parallel to events in Germany, a movement began in Switzerland under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli. These two movements quickly agreed on most issues, but some unresolved differences kept them separate. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the Reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survive among modern day Anabaptists. Other Protestant movements grew up along lines of mysticism or humanism, sometimes breaking from Rome or from the Protestants, or forming outside of the churches.
After this first stage of the Reformation, following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere.
The Reformation foundations engaged with Augustinianism. Both Luther and Calvin thought along lines linked with the theological teachings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinianism of the Reformers struggled against Pelagianism, a heresy that they perceived in the Roman Catholic Church of their day. In the course of this religious upheaval, the German Peasants' War of 1524 1525 swept through the Bavarian, Thuringian and Swabian principalities, including the Black Company of Florian Geier, a knight from Giebelstadt who joined the peasants in the general outrage against the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Martin Luther, however, condemned the revolt, thus contributing to its eventual defeat. Some 100,000 peasants were killed.
Even though Luther and Calvin had very similar theological teachings, the relationship between their followers turned quickly to conflict. Frenchman Michel de Montaigne told a story of a Lutheran pastor who declared over dinner that he would rather hear a hundred masses than take part in one of Calvin's sacraments.
The political separation of the Church of England from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1536, brought England alongside this broad Reformed movement. However, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England alternated, for centuries, between sympathies for Roman Catholic traditions and Protestantism, progressively forging a stable compromise between adherence to ancient tradition and Protestantism, which is now sometimes called the via media.
Life of Martin Luther and the heroes of the Reformation
Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli are considered Magisterial Reformers because their reform movements were supported by ruling authorities or "magistrates". Frederick the Wise did not support Luther, who was a professor at the university he founded, but he protected him by hiding Luther in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Frederick the Wise was a very devout Roman Catholic, but only protected Luther in hopes of obtaining greater political autonomy from the Church. Zwingli and Calvin were supported by the city councils in Zurich and Geneva.
Loci Communes (Latin for "Common Points") were summaries of Luther's theological points and were widely distributed. Since the term "magister" also means "teacher," the Magisterial Reformation is also characterized by an emphasis on the authority of a teacher. This is made evident in the prominence of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli as leaders of the reform movements in their respective areas of ministry. Because of their authority, they were often criticized by Radical Reformers as being too much like the Roman Popes. For example, Radical Reformer Andreas Karlstadt referred to the Wittenberg theologians as the "new papists".
Adam & Eve woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder The Reformation was a triumph of literacy and the new printing press. Luther's translation of the Bible into German was a decisive moment in the spread of literacy, and stimulated as well the printing and distribution of religious books and pamphlets. From 1517 onward religious pamphlets flooded Germany and much of Europe.
By 1530 over 10,000 publications are known, with a total of ten million copies. The Reformation was thus a media revolution. Luther strengthened his attacks on Rome by depicting a "good" against "bad" church. From there, it became clear that print could be used for propaganda in the Reformation for particular agendas. Reform writers used pre-Reformation styles, clich s, and stereotypes and changed items as needed for their own purposes. Especially effective were writings in German, including Luther's translation of the Bible, his Small Catechism for parents teaching their children, and his Larger Catechism, for pastors.
Using the German vernacular they expressed the Apostles' Creed in simpler, more personal, Trinitarian language. Illustrations in the German Bible and in many tracts popularized Luther's ideas. Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 1553), the great painter patronized by the electors of Wittenberg, was a close friend of Luther, and illustrated Luther's theology for a popular audience. He dramatized Luther's views on the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, while remaining mindful of Luther's careful distinctions about proper and improper uses of visual imagery.
Humanism to Protestantism
The frustrated reformism of the humanists, ushered in by the Renaissance, contributed to a growing impatience among reformers. Erasmus and later figures like Martin Luther and Zwingli would emerge from this debate and eventually contribute to another major schism of Christendom. The crisis of theology beginning with William of Ockham in the 14th century was occurring in conjunction with the new burgher discontent. Since the breakdown of the philosophical foundations of scholasticism, the new nominalism did not bode well for an institutional church legitimized as an intermediary between man and God. New thinking favored the notion that no religious doctrine can be supported by philosophical arguments, eroding the old alliance between reason and faith of the medieval period laid out by Thomas Aquinas.
The major individualistic reform movements that revolted against medieval scholasticism and the institutions that underpinned it were humanism, devotionalism, (see for example, the Brothers of the Common Life and Jan Standonck) and the observantine tradition. In Germany, "the modern way" or devotionalism caught on in the universities, requiring a redefinition of God, who was no longer a rational governing principle but an arbitrary, unknowable will that cannot be limited. God was now a ruler, and religion would be more fervent and emotional. Thus, the ensuing revival of Augustinian theology, stating that man cannot be saved by his own efforts but only by the grace of God would erode the legitimacy of the rigid institutions of the church meant to provide a channel for man to do good works and get into heaven. Humanism, however, was more of an educational reform movement with origins in the Renaissance's revival of classical learning and thought. A revolt against Aristotelian logic, it placed great emphasis on reforming individuals through eloquence as opposed to reason. The European Renaissance laid the foundation for the Northern humanists in its reinforcement of the traditional use of Latin as the great unifying language of European culture.
The polarization of the scholarly community in Germany over the Reuchlin (1455 1522) affair, attacked by the elite clergy for his study of Hebrew and Jewish texts, brought Luther fully in line with the humanist educational reforms who favored academic freedom. At the same time, the impact of the Renaissance would soon backfire against traditional Roman Catholicism, ushering in an age of reform and a repudiation of much of medieval Latin tradition. Led by Erasmus, the humanists condemned various forms of corruption within the church, forms of corruption that might not have been any more prevalent than during the medieval zenith of the church. Erasmus held that true religion was a matter of inward devotion rather than outward symbols of ceremony and ritual. Going back to ancient texts, scriptures, from this viewpoint the greatest culmination of the ancient tradition, are the guides to life. Favoring moral reforms and de-emphasizing didactic ritual, Erasmus laid the groundwork for Luther.
Humanism's intellectual anti-clericalism would profoundly influence Luther. The increasingly well-educated middle sectors of Northern Germany, namely the educated community and city dwellers would turn to Luther's rethinking of religion to conceptualize their discontent according to the cultural medium of the era. The great rise of the burghers, the desire to run their new businesses free of institutional barriers or outmoded cultural practices, contributed to the appeal of humanist individualism. To many, papal institutions were rigid, especially regarding their views on just price and usury. In the North, burghers and monarchs were united in their frustration for not paying any taxes to the nation, but collecting taxes from subjects and sending the revenues disproportionately to the Pope in Italy.
These trends heightened demands for significant reform and revitalization along with anticlericalism. New thinkers began noticing the divide between the priests and the flock. The clergy, for instance, were not always well-educated. Parish priests often did not know Latin and rural parishes often did not have great opportunities for theological education for many at the time. Due to its large landholdings and institutional rigidity, a rigidity the excessively large ranks of the clergy contributed to, many bishops studied law, not theology, being relegated to the role of property managers trained in administration. While priests emphasized works of religiosity, the respectability of the church began diminishing, especially among well educated urbanites, and especially considering the recent strings of political humiliation, such as the apprehension of Pope Boniface VIII by Philip IV of France, the "Babylonian Captivity." the Great Schism, and the failure of conciliar reformism. In a sense, the campaign by Pope Leo X to raise funds to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica was too much of an excess by the secular Renaissance church, prompting high-pressure indulgences that rendered the clergy establishments even more disliked in the cities.
Luther borrowed from the humanists the sense of individualism, that each man can be his own priest (an attitude likely to find popular support considering the rapid rise of an educated urban middle class in the North), and that the only true authority is the Bible, echoing the reformist zeal of the conciliar movement and opening up the debate once again on limiting the authority of the Pope. While his ideas called for the sharp redefinition of the dividing lines between the laity and the clergy, his ideas were still, by this point, reformist in nature. Luther's contention that the human will was incapable of following good, however, resulted in his rift with Erasmus finally distinguishing Lutheran reformism from humanism.
Lutheranism adopted by the German princes
Martin Luther's 1534 bible Luther affirmed a theology of the Eucharist called Real Presence, a doctrine of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist that affirms the real presence, yet holds that the bread and wine are not "changed" into the body and blood; rather the divine elements adhere "in, with, and under" the earthly elements. He took this understanding of Christ's presence in the Eucharist to be more harmonious with the Church's teaching on the Incarnation. Just as Christ is the union of the fully human and the fully divine (cf. Council of Chalcedon) so too the Eucharist is a union of Bread and Body, Wine and Blood. According to the doctrine of real presence, the substances of the body and the blood of Christ and of the bread and the wine were held to coexist together in the consecrated Host during the communion service. While Luther seemed to maintain the perpetual consecration of the elements, other Lutherans argued that any consecrated bread or wine left over would revert to its former state the moment the service ended. Most Lutherans accept the latter.
Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Oil on panel.A Lutheran understanding of the Eucharist is distinct from the Reformed doctrine of the Eucharist in that Lutherans affirm a real, physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist (as opposed to either a "spiritual presence" or a "memorial") and Lutherans affirm that the presence of Christ does not depend on the faith of the recipient; the repentant receive Christ in the Eucharist worthily, the unrepentant who receive the Eucharist risk the wrath of Christ.
Luther, along with his colleague Philipp Melanchthon, emphasized this point in his plea for the Reformation at the Reichstag in 1529 amid charges of heresy. But the changes he proposed were of such a fundamental nature that by their own logic they would automatically overthrow the old order; neither the Emperor nor the Roman Church could possibly accept them, as Luther well knew. As was only to be expected, the edict by the Diet of Worms (1521) prohibited all innovations. Meanwhile, in these efforts to retain the guise of a Roman Catholic reformer as opposed to a heretical revolutionary, and to appeal to German princes with his religious condemnation of the peasant revolts backed up by the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, Luther's growing conservatism would provoke more radical reformers.
At a religious conference with the Zwinglians in 1529, Melanchthon joined with Luther in opposing a union with Zwingli. There would finally be a schism in the reform movement due to Luther's belief in real presence the real (as opposed to symbolic) presence of Christ at the Eucharist. His original intention was not schism, but with the Reichstag of Augsburg (1530) and its rejection of the Lutheran Augsburg Confession, a separate Lutheran church finally emerged. In a sense, Luther would take theology further in its deviation from established Roman Catholic dogma, forcing a rift between the humanist Erasmus and Luther. Similarly, Zwingli would further repudiate ritualism, and break with the increasingly conservative Luther.
Aside from the enclosing of the lower classes, the middle sectors of northern Germany, namely the educated community and city dwellers, would turn to religion to conceptualize their discontent according to the cultural medium of the era. In northern Europe, Luther appealed to the growing national consciousness of the German states because he denounced the Pope for involvement in politics as well as religion. Moreover, he backed the nobility, which was now justified to crush the Great Peasant Revolt of 1525 and to confiscate church property by Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. This explains the attraction of some territorial princes to Lutheranism, especially its Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. However, the Elector of Brandenburg, Joachim I, blamed Lutheranism for the revolt and so did others. In Brandenburg, it was only under his successor Joachim II that Lutheranism was established, and the old religion was not formally extinct in Brandenburg until the death of the last Catholic bishop there, Georg von Blumenthal, who was Bishop of Lebus and sovereign Prince-Bishop of Ratzeburg.
With the church subordinate to and the agent of civil authority and peasant rebellions condemned on strict religious terms, Lutheranism and German nationalist sentiment were ideally suited to coincide.
Though Charles V fought the Reformation, it is no coincidence either that the reign of his nationalistic predecessor Maximilian I saw the beginning of the movement. While the centralized states of western Europe had reached accords with the Vatican permitting them to draw on the rich property of the church for government expenditures, enabling them to form state churches that were greatly autonomous of Rome, similar moves on behalf of the Reich were unsuccessful so long as princes and prince bishops fought reforms to drop the pretension of the secular universal
Reformation outside Germany
Parallel to events in Germany, a movement began in the Swiss Confederation under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli. Zwingli was a scholar and preacher who moved to Zurich - the then leading city state - in 1518, a year after Martin Luther began the Reformation in Germany with his 95 Theses. Although the two movements agreed on many issues of theology, as the recently introduced printing press spread ideas rapidly from place to place, some unresolved differences kept them separate. A long-standing resentment between the German states and the Swiss Confederation led to heated debate over how much Zwingli owed his ideas to Lutheranism. Although Zwinglianism does hold uncanny resemblance to Lutheranism (it even had its own equivalent of the 95 Theses, called the 67 Conclusions) historians have been unable to prove that Zwingli had any contact with Luther's publications before 1520, and Zwingli himself maintained that he had prevented himself from reading them. The German Prince Philip of Hesse saw potential in creating an alliance between Zwingli and Luther, seeing strength in a united Protestant front. A meeting was held in his castle in 1529, now known as the Colloquy of Marburg, which has become infamous for its complete failure. The two men could not come to any agreement due to their disputation over one key doctrine. Although Luther preached consubstantiation in the Eucharist over transubstantiation, he believed in the spiritual presence of Christ at the mass. Zwingli believed that the mass was only representative and memorial - Christ was not present. Luther became so angry that he famously carved into the meeting table 'Hoc Est Corpus Meum' - a Biblical quotation from the Last Supper meaning 'this is my body'. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the Reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survive among modern day Anabaptists. One famous incident illustrating this was when radical Zwinglians fried and ate sausages during Lent in Zurich city square by way of protest against the Church teaching of good works. Other Protestant movements grew up along lines of mysticism or humanism (cf. Erasmus), sometimes breaking from Rome or from the Protestants, or forming outside of the churches.
John Calvin at 53 in an engraving by Ren Boyvin.
Following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere. After the expulsion of its Bishop in 1526, and the unsuccessful attempts of the Berne reformer Guillaume (William) Farel, Calvin was asked to use the organisational skill he had gathered as a student of law to discipline the 'fallen city' of Geneva. His 'Ordinances' of 1541 involved a collaboration of Church affairs with the City council and consistory in order to bring morality to all areas of life. After the establishment of the Geneva academy in 1559, Geneva became the unofficial capital of the Protestant movement, providing refuge for Protestant exiles from all over Europe and educating them as Calvinist missionaries. These missionaries dispersed Calvinism widely, and formed the French Huguenots in Calvin's own lifetime, as well as causing the conversion of Scotland under the leadership of the cantankerous John Knox in 1560. The faith continued to spread after Calvin's death in 1564 and reached as far as Constantinople by the start of the 17th century. The Reformation foundations engaged with Augustinianism. Both Luther and Calvin thought along lines linked with the theological teachings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinianism of the Reformers struggled against Pelagianism, a heresy that they perceived in the Roman Catholic Church of their day. Ironically, even though both Luther and Calvin had very similar theological teachings, the relationship between Lutherans and Calvinists evolved into one of conflict.
- See also: Reformation in Denmark-Norway and Holstein, Reformation in Iceland, Reformation in Norway, Reformation in Sweden
All of Scandinavia ultimately adopted Lutheranism over the course of the 16th century, as the monarchs of Denmark (who also ruled Norway and Iceland) and Sweden (who also ruled Finland) converted to that faith.
In Sweden, the Reformation was spearheaded by Gustav Vasa, elected king in 1523. Friction with the pope over the latter's interference in Swedish ecclesiastical affairs led to the discontinuance of any official connection between Sweden and the papacy from 1523. Four years later, at the Diet of V ster s, the king succeeded in forcing the diet to accept his dominion over the national church. The king was given possession of all church property, church appointments required royal approval, the clergy were subject to the civil law, and the "pure Word of God" was to be preached in the churches and taught in the schools effectively granting official sanction to Lutheran ideas.
Under the reign of Frederick I (1523 33), Denmark remained officially Roman Catholic. But though Frederick initially pledged to persecute Lutherans, he soon adopted a policy of protecting Lutheran preachers and reformers, of whom the most famous was Hans Tausen. During his reign, Lutheranism made significant inroads among the Danish population. Frederick's son, Christian, was openly Lutheran, which prevented his election to the throne upon his father's death. In 1536, the authority of the Roman Catholic bishops was terminated by national assembly. The next year, following his victory in the Count's War, he became king as Christian III and continued the reformation of the state church with assistance of Johannes Bugenhagen.
Elizabeth I]], Queen of England and Ireland.
Church of England
The separation of the Church of England (or Anglican Church) from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1537, brought England alongside this broad Reformation movement; however, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England alternated, for centuries, between sympathies for ancient Catholic tradition and more Reformed principles, gradually developing into a tradition considered a middle way (via media) between the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions.
The English Reformation followed a different course from the Reformation in continental Europe. There had long been a strong strain of anti-clericalism and England had already given rise to the Lollard movement of John Wycliffe, which played an important part in inspiring the Hussites in Bohemia. Lollardy was suppressed and became an underground movement so the extent of its influence in the 1520s is difficult to assess. The different character of the English Reformation came rather from the fact that it was driven initially by the political necessities of Henry VIII.
Henry had once been a sincere Roman Catholic and had even authored a book strongly criticizing Luther, but he later found it expedient and profitable to break with the Papacy. His wife, Catherine of Aragon, bore him only a single child that survived infancy, Mary. As England had recently gone through a lengthy dynastic conflict (see Wars of the Roses), Henry feared that his lack of a male heir might jeopardize his descendants' claim to the throne. However, Pope Clement VII, concentrating more on Charles V's sack of Rome, denied his request for an annulment. Had Clement granted the annulment and therefore admitted that his predecessor, Julius II, had erred, Clement would have given support to the Lutheran assertion that Popes replaced their own judgement for the will of God.
King Henry decided to remove the Church of England from the authority of Rome. In 1534, the Act of Supremacy made Henry the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Between 1535 and 1540, under Thomas Cromwell, the policy known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries was put into effect. The veneration of some saints, certain pilgrimages and some pilgrim shrines were also attacked. Huge amounts of church land and property passed into the hands of the Crown and ultimately into those of the nobility and gentry. The vested interest thus created made for a powerful force in support of the dissolutions.
There were some notable opponents to the Henrician Reformation, such as St. Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, who were executed for their opposition. There was also a growing party of reformers who were imbued with the Zwinglian and Calvinistic doctrines now current on the Continent. When Henry died he was succeeded by his Protestant son Edward VI, who, through his empowered councillors (with the King being only nine years old at his succession and not yet sixteen at his death) the Duke of Somerset and the Duke of Northumberland, ordered the destruction of images in churches, and the closing of the chantries. Under Edward VI the reform of the Church of England was established unequivocally in doctrinal terms.
Yet, at a popular level, religion in England was still in a state of flux. Following a brief Roman Catholic restoration during the reign of Mary 1553 1558, a loose consensus developed during the reign of Elizabeth I, though this point is one of considerable debate among historians. Yet it is this "Elizabethan Religious Settlement" which largely formed Anglicanism into a distinctive church tradition. The compromise was uneasy and was capable of veering between extreme Calvinism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other, but compared to the bloody and chaotic state of affairs in contemporary France, it was relatively successful until the Puritan Revolution or English Civil War in the 17th century.
The success of the Counter-Reformation on the Continent and the growth of a Puritan party dedicated to further Protestant reform polarized the Elizabethan Age, although it was not until the 1640s that England underwent religious strife comparable to what its neighbours had suffered some generations before.
The early Puritan movement (late 16th 17th centuries) was Reformed or Calvinist and was a movement for reform in the Church of England. Its origins lay in the discontent with the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. The desire was for the Church of England to resemble more closely the Protestant churches of Europe, especially Geneva. The Puritans objected to ornaments and ritual in the churches as idolatrous (vestments, surplices, organs, genuflection), which they castigated as "popish pomp and rags". (See Vestments controversy.) They also objected to ecclesiastical courts. They refused to endorse completely all of the ritual directions and formulas of the Book of Common Prayer; the imposition of its liturgical order by legal force and inspection sharpened Puritanism into a definite opposition movement.
The later Puritan movement were often referred to as dissenters and nonconformists and eventually led to the formation of various reformed denominations.
The most famous and well-known emigration to America was the migration of the Puritan separatists from the Anglican Church of England, who fled first to Holland, and then later to America, to establish the English colony of Massachusetts in New England, which later became one of the original United States.
These Puritan separatists were also known as "the Pilgrims". After establishing a colony at Plymouth (which became part of the colony of Massachusetts) in 1620, the Puritan pilgrims received a charter from the King of England that legitimized their colony, allowing them to do trade and commerce with merchants in England, in accordance with the principles of mercantilism. This successful, though initially quite difficult, colony marked the beginning of the Protestant presence in America (the earlier French, Spanish and Portuguese settlements had been Roman Catholic), and became a kind of oasis of spiritual and economic freedom, to which persecuted Protestants and other minorities from the British Isles and Europe (and later, from all over the world) fled to for peace, freedom and opportunity. The Pilgrims of New England disapproved of Christmas and celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban was revoked in 1681 by Sir Edmund Andros, who also revoked a Puritan ban against festivities on Saturday night. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.
The original intent of the colonists was to establish spiritual Puritanism, which had been denied to them in England and the rest of Europe, to engage in peaceful commerce with England and the native American Indians, and to Christianize the peoples of the Americas.
St. Giles]], Edinburgh The Reformation in Scotland's case culminated ecclesiastically in the re-establishment of the church along reformed lines, and politically in the triumph of English influence over that of France. John Knox is regarded as the leader of the Scottish reformation
The Reformation Parliament of 1560 repudiated the pope's authority by the Papal Jurisdiction Act 1560, forbade the celebration of the mass and approved a Protestant Confession of Faith. It was made possible by a revolution against French hegemony under the regime of the regent Mary of Guise, who had governed Scotland in the name of her absent daughter Mary, Queen of Scots (then also Queen of France).
The Scottish reformation decisively shaped the Church of Scotland and, through it, all other Presbyterian churches worldwide.
A spiritual revival also broke out among Roman Catholics soon after Martin Luther's actions, and led to the Scottish Covenanters' movement, the precursor to Scottish Presbyterianism. This movement spread, and greatly influenced the formation of Puritanism among the Anglican Church in England. The Scottish covenanters were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. This persecution by the Catholics drove some of the Protestant covenanter leadership out of Scotland, and into France and later, Switzerland.
Although a Roman Catholic clergyman himself, Cardinal Richelieu allied France with Protestant states. Protestantism also spread into France, where the Protestants were nicknamed Huguenots, and this eventually led to decades of civil warfare.
Though he was not personally interested in religious reform, Francis I (1515 47) initially maintained an attitude of tolerance, arising from his interest in the humanist movement. This changed in 1534 with the Affair of the Placards. In this act, Protestants denounced the mass in placards that appeared across France, even reaching the royal apartments. The issue of religious faith having been thrown into the arena of politics, Francis was prompted to view the movement as a threat to the kingdom's stability. This led to the first major phase of anti-Protestant persecution in France, in which the Chambre Ardente ("Burning Chamber") was established within the Parlement of Paris to deal with the rise in prosecutions for heresy. Several thousand French Protestants fled the country during this time, most notably John Calvin, who settled in Geneva.
Calvin continued to take an interest in the religious affairs of his native land and, from his base in Geneva, beyond the reach of the French king, regularly trained pastors to lead congregations in France. Despite heavy persecution by Henry II, the Reformed Church of France, largely Calvinist in direction, made steady progress across large sections of the nation, in the urban bourgeoisie and parts of the aristocracy, appealing to people alienated by the obduracy and the complacency of the Catholic establishment. Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre, Painting by Fran ois Dubois (born about 1529, Amiens, Picardy) French Protestantism, though its appeal increased under persecution, came to acquire a distinctly political character, made all the more obvious by the noble conversions of the 1550s. This had the effect of creating the preconditions for a series of destructive and intermittent conflicts, known as the Wars of Religion. The civil wars were helped along by the sudden death of Henry II in 1559, which began a prolonged period of weakness for the French crown. Atrocity and outrage became the defining characteristic of the time, illustrated at its most intense in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of August 1572, when the Roman Catholic party annihilated between 30,000 and 100,000 Huguenots across France. The wars only concluded when Henry IV, himself a former Huguenot, issued the Edict of Nantes, promising official toleration of the Protestant minority, but under highly restricted conditions. Roman Catholicism remained the official state religion, and the fortunes of French Protestants gradually declined over the next century, culminating in Louis XIV's Edict of Fontainebleau which revoked the Edict of Nantes and made Roman Catholicism the sole legal religion of France. In response to the Edict of Fontainebleau, Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg declared the Edict of Potsdam, giving free passage to Huguenot refugees, and tax-free status to them for ten years.
In the late 17th century, many Huguenots fled to England, the Netherlands, Prussia, Switzerland, and the English and Dutch overseas colonies. A significant community in France remained in the C vennes region. A separate Protestant community, of the Lutheran faith, existed in the newly conquered province of Alsace, its status not affected by the Edict of Fontainebleau.
The Reformation in the Netherlands, unlike in many other countries, was not initiated by the rulers of the Seventeen Provinces, but instead by multiple popular movements, which in turn were bolstered by the arrival of Protestant refugees from other parts of the continent. While the Anabaptist movement enjoyed popularity in the region in the early decades of the Reformation, Calvinism, in the form of the Dutch Reformed Church, became the dominant Protestant faith in the country from the 1560s onward.
Harsh persecution of Protestants by the Spanish government of Philip II contributed to a desire for independence in the provinces, which led to the Eighty Years' War and eventually, the separation of the largely Protestant Dutch Republic from the Roman Catholic-dominated Southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium).
Much of the population of the Kingdom of Hungary adopted Protestantism during the 16th century. After the 1526 Battle of Moh cs the Hungarian people were disillusioned by the ability of the government to protect them and turned to the faith they felt would infuse them with the strength necessary to resist the invader. They found this in the teaching of the Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther. The spread of Protestantism in the country was aided by its large ethnic German minority, which could understand and translate the writings of Martin Luther. While Lutheranism gained a foothold among the German- and Slovak-speaking populations, Calvinism became widely accepted among ethnic Hungarians.
In the more independent northwest the rulers and priests, protected now by the Habsburg Monarchy, which had taken the field to fight the Turks, defended the old Roman Catholic faith. They dragged the Protestants to prison and the stake wherever they could. Such strong measures only fanned the flames of protest, however. Leaders of the Protestants included Matthias Biro Devai, Michael Sztarai, and Stephen Kis Szegedi.
Protestants likely formed a majority of Hungary's population at the close of the 16th century, but Counter-Reformation efforts in the 17th century reconverted a majority of the kingdom to Roman Catholicism. A significant Protestant minority remained, most of it adhering to the Calvinist faith.
In 1558 the Transylvanian Diet of Turda declared free practice of both the Catholic and Lutheran religions, but prohibited Calvinism. Ten years later, in 1568, the Diet extended this freedom, declaring that "It is not allowed to anybody to intimidate anybody with captivity or expelling for his religion". Four religions (Unitarism became official in 1583, following the faith of the only Unitarian King John II Sigismund Z polya 1541-1571) were declared as accepted (recepta) religions, while Orthodox Christianity was "tolerated" (though the building of stone Orthodox churches was forbidden). During the Thirty Years' War, Royal (Habsburg) Hungary joined the Roman Catholic side, until Transylvania joined the Protestant side.
There were a series of other successful and unsuccessful anti-Habsburg (requiring equal rights and freedom for all Christian religions) uprisings between 1604 and 1711; the uprisings were usually organized from Transylvania. The constrained Habsburg Counter-Reformation efforts in the 17th century reconverted the majority of the kingdom to Roman Catholicism.
The Reformation in Ireland was a movement for the reform of religious life and institutions that was introduced into Ireland by the English administration at the behest of King Henry VIII of England. His desire for an annulment of his marriage was known as the King's Great Matter. Ultimately Pope Clement VII refused the petition; consequently it became necessary for the King to assert his lordship over the Roman Catholic Church in his realm in order to give legal effect to his wishes. The English Parliament confirmed the King's supremacy over the Church in the Kingdom of England. This challenge to Papal supremacy resulted in a breach with the Roman Catholic Church. By 1541, the Irish Parliament had agreed to the change in status of the country from that of a Lordship to that of Kingdom of Ireland.
Unlike similar movements for religious reform on the continent of Europe, the various phases of the English Reformation as it developed in Ireland were largely driven by changes in government policy, to which public opinion in England gradually accommodated itself. However, a number of factors complicated the adoption of the religious innovations in Ireland; the majority of the population there adhered to the Roman Catholic Church.
The Reformation spread to the Italian states in the 1520s, and quickly collapsed at the beginning of the 17th century. Its development was hindered by the Inquisition and also popular disdain. In Italy the Reformation exerted almost no lasting influence, except for strengthening the Roman Catholic Church, unlike the essential impact it had on other European countries (Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, and Transylvania among others). Many Italians were outstanding activists of the European Reformation, mainly in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (e.g. Giorgio Biandrata, Bernardino Ochino, Giovanni Alciato, Giovanni Battista Cetis, Fausto Sozzini, Francesco Stancaro and Giovanni Valentino Gentile) who propagated Nontrinitarianism there and were chief instigators of the movement of Polish Brethren.
In 1532 the Waldensians adhered to the Reformation, adopting the Calvinist theology. So, their Church, survived in the Western Alps through many persecutions, has been for centuries the only Protestant Church in Italy.
In Italy the Biblical Unitarian Movement powered by the ideas of Sozzini and others is represented today by the churches associated with the Christian Church in Italy.
Polish - Lithuanian Commonwealth
In the first half of the 16th century, the enormous Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a country of many creeds, but Roman Catholic Church remained the dominating religion. Reformation reached Poland in the 1520s, and quickly gained popularity among mostly German-speaking inhabitants of such major cities, as Gda sk, Toru and Elbl g. In Koenigsberg, in 1530, Polish-language edition of Luther's Small Catechism was published. The Duchy of Prussia, which was a Polish fief, emerged as key center of the movement, with numerous publishing houses issuing not only Bibles, but also catechisms, in German, Polish and Lithuanian.
Lutheranism gained popularity in northern part of the country, while Calvinism caught the interest of szlachta, mainly in Lesser Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Several publishing houses were opened in Lesser Poland in mid-16th century, in such locations, as S omniki and Rak w. At that time, Mennonites and Czech Brothers came to Poland, with the latter ones settling mostly in Greater Poland, around Leszno. In 1565, Polish Brethren appeared as yet another reformation movement.
The 16th century Commonwealth was unique in Europe, because of widespread tolerance, confirmed by the Warsaw Confederation. In 1563, the Brest Bible was published (see also Bible translations into Polish). The period of tolerance ended during the reign of King Sigismund III Vasa, who was under strong influence of Piotr Skarga and other Jesuits. After the Deluge, and other wars of the mid-17th century, in which all enemies of Poland were either Protestant or Orthodox Christians, the attitude of Poles changed. Counter-Reformation prevailed, in 1658 Polish Brethren were forced to leave the country, and in 1666, the Sejm banned apostasy from Catholicism to any other religion, under punishment of death. Finally, in 1717, the Silent Sejm banned non-Catholics from becoming deputies of the Parliament.
Among most important Protestants of the Commonwealth, there are such names, as Miko aj Rej, Marcin Czechowic, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski and Symon Budny.
Museum of Modern Art]], in Ljubljana. Primo Trubar was the key figure of the Protestant Church of the Slovene Lands, as he was its founder and its first superintendent. In 1547 he was expelled from Ljubljana. While a Protestant preacher in Rothenburg, Germany, he wrote first two books in Slovene, Catechismus and Abecedarium, which were published in 1550 in T bingen, Germany. Since 2010, 8 June is commemorated in Slovenia as the Primo Trubar Day. He is notable for consolidating the Slovene language and is considered to be the key figure of Slovenian cultural history and in many aspects a major Slovene historical personality..
Conclusion and legacy
The Reformation led to a series of religious wars that culminated in the Thirty Years' War (1618 1648), which devastated much of Germany, killing between 24.9 and 40% of its population. From 1618 to 1648 the Roman Catholic House of Habsburg and its allies fought against the Protestant princes of Germany, supported at various times by Denmark, Sweden and France. The Habsburgs, who ruled Spain, Austria, the Spanish Netherlands and much of Germany and Italy, were staunch defenders of the Roman Catholic Church. Some historians believe that the era of the Reformation came to a close when Roman Catholic France allied itself, first in secret and later on the battlefields, with Protestant states against the Habsburg dynasty. For the first time since the days of Luther, political and national convictions again outweighed religious convictions in Europe.
The main tenets of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years' War, were:
- All parties would now recognize the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, by which each prince would have the right to determine the religion of his own state, the options being Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and now Calvinism (the principle of cuius regio, eius religio)
- Christians living in principalities where their denomination was not the established church were guaranteed the right to practice their faith in public during allotted hours and in private at their will.
Map of Europe, 1648 The treaty also effectively ended the Pope's pan-European political power. Fully aware of the loss, Pope Innocent X declared the treaty "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all times." European sovereigns, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike, ignored his verdict.
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber first suggested that cultural values could affect economic success, arguing that the Protestant Reformation led to values that drove people toward worldly achievements, a hard work ethic, and saving to accumulate wealth for investment. The new religions (in particular, Calvinism and other more austere Protestant groups) effectively forbade wastefully using hard earned money and identified the purchase of luxuries a sin.
Notes and references
Scholarly secondary resources
Chronological order of publication (oldest first)
''The Cambridge Modern History''. Vol 2: The Reformation (1903).
- Kirsch, J.P. "The Reformation", The Catholic Encyclopedia (1911). Catholic view; online
- Smith, Preserved. ''The Age of Reformation''. (1920).
- (a Catholic perspective; reprinted 2009)
- (focuses on religious teachings)
- Gonzales, Justo. The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day. San Francisco: Harper, 1985. ISBN 0-06-063316-6.
- Estep, William R. Renaissance & Reformation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986. ISBN 0-8028-0050-5.
- Spitz, Lewis W. The Renaissance and Reformation Movements: Volume I, The Renaissance. Revised Edition. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1987. ISBN 0-570-03818-9; The Renaissance and Reformation Movements: Volume II, The Reformation. (2nd ed. Concordia Publishing House, 1987). ISBN 0-570-03819-7.
- Cameron, Euan. The European Reformation (Oxford UP, 1991). (a standard textbook)
Braaten, Carl E. and Robert W. Jenson. The Catholicity of the Reformation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. ISBN 0-8028-4220-8.
- Hillerbrand, Hans J., et al. eds. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation (1996) vol. 1:296 pp., vol. 2:506 pp., vol. 3: 491 pp., vol. 4:484 pp., ISBN 0-19-506493-3
MacCulloch, Diarmaid. The Reformation: A History. New York: Penguin 2003. Most important recent synthesis
- Hendrix, Scott H. "Recultivating the Vineyard: The Reformation Agendas of Christianization." Louisville & London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004. ISBN 0-664-22713-9.
- Bagchi, David, and David C. Steinmetz, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology (2004) 289 pp.
- Collinson, Patrick. The Reformation: A History (2006) excerpt and text search
- Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Protestant Reformation (2nd ed. 2009) excerpt and text search
- Marshall, Peter. The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (2009) excerpt and text search
- Payton Jr. James R. Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings (IVP Academic, 2010) excerpt and text search
Primary sources in translation
Gorham, George Cornelius, ''Gleanings of a few scattered ears, during the period of Reformation in England and of the times immediately succeeding: A.D. 1533 to A.D. 1588'':, London, Bell and Daldy, 1857.
- Janz, Denis, ed. A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts With Introductions (2008) excerpt and text search
Luther, Martin Luther's Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters, 2 vols., tr. and ed. by Preserved Smith, Charles Michael Jacobs, The Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pa. 1913, 1918. vol.I (1507 1521) and vol.2 (1521 1530) from Google Books. Reprint of Vol.1, Wipf & Stock Publishers (March 2006). ISBN 1-59752-601-0.
- Spitz, Lewis W. The Protestant Reformation: Major Documents. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1997. ISBN 0-570-04993-8
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