Modern World History

Reformation in Europe

Protestant Reformation Across Europe

Reformation was a protest movement against certain obnoxious practices of the Roman Catholic Church and an attempt to reform it. The Protestants and reformers soon separated themselves from the Roman Catholic Church and started new Protestant Churches in the 16th century. As a result the Christians in Europe came to be divided into two major groups-Protestants and Catholics. Reformation was the final assault against the medieval order. By attacking the monopolistic power of the Universal Church; it not only brought a great religious change but also proclaimed the dawn of a new era in Europe. The main causes of the rise of Reformation were growth of abuses and evil practices like Simony, Plurality, Annates and the Pope himself selling various kinds of pardons –certificates such as indulgences, absolutions, dispensations etc. Attack of the Church by several reformers of the 14th and 15th centuries – John Wycliffe of England, John Huss of Bohemia, Erasmus of Holland and Savanarola of Italy.

History of Reformation

People now broadened in their mental outlook began to question the Pope’s authority and criticize the corrupt practices and immoral life of the clergy. Pope claimed himself to be God’s representative on earth, regarded kings as his subordinates and began to intervene in the internal affairs of the states. This was strongly opposed by kings. Rise of nationalism and nation states resulted in the reduction of the concept of Universal Church and growth of national churches.Bourgeoisie, peasantry and even some sections of aristocracy were antagonized by heavy ecclesiastical taxation. Bourgeoisie in particular opposed the severe restrictions imposed upon commercial pursuits by the Roman Catholic Church.

Course of Reformation

Lutheranism: The reform movement or the Protestant sect started by Martin Luther in Germany. Luther contested the Catholic idea of good works as a means of salvation and insisted that only through faith the soul could be saved. He appealed to individualism in religion and also to nationalism by admitting the supremacy of the state over the church. Out break of war between Catholic and Protestant German states ending with the peace of Augsburg (1555) which permitted each German prince to choose between Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism for his people. Spread of Lutheranism to other countries especially to Scandinavian states where it had a greater success than even in the German states.
Calvinism: Started by Zwingli, a Swiss and later renewed by Calvin, a Frenchman in Switzerland. Its spread to Holland, Germany, France, Scotland, England, Hungary and Poland etc.
Anglicism: Founded by King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth I of England became the faith of established Church of England and the USA.It was more conservative and evolutionary than the other two Protestant sects and also highly nationalistic.

Counter of Reformation

Counter Reformation: Reform with in the Roman Catholic Church, removal of some of the glaring abuses from the Church by the Council of Trent and the invigoration of the Church through the establishment of several orders such as the Society of Jesus. Breakdown in the unity of Christendom: Division of the Christians into Catholics and Protestants. Establishment of national churches in place of the Universal Church.

Strengthening of monarchies at the cost of the Papacy. Religious persecution of the followers of the minority sects by those of the majority sects in all the countries of Europe. Religious wars among the European countries such as Anglo-Spanish Wars, the Thirty Years War etc.

Read about History of Christianity in the Reformation. Get Information about Lutheran Reformation, Anglican Reformation and Calvinist Reformation in the 16th century. Council Of Trent and Counter-Reformation. Catholic Church Reformation Movement. Peace of Augsburg and Unity of Christendom. Reformation and Religious Wars in Europe.

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