In this module, you will learn about the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation.
The roots of the religious reformations of the sixteenth century were several, including Christian humanism, where the focus was on the Bible and the writings of the church fathers. Among the humanists was Desiderius Erasmus, who stressed inner piety and Christ as a guide for daily life rather than dogma and ritual. The Church was criticized for corruption, materialism, and for abuses such as pluralism and absenteeism. For many, the quest for salvation was often merely mechanical: collecting relics, going on pilgrimages, purchasing indulgences to reduce time in purgatory. New religious orders answered the calls for reform, such as the Oratory of Divine Love, which stressed personal spiritual development. To the medieval church, the sacraments administered by the clergy ensured salvation, but Martin Luther argued that faith alone was the answer, and that the Bible, not the Church, was the sole authority. In 1517, Luther went public in his criticisms. Outlawed after being condemned by pope and emperor, he translated the Bible into German.
Erasmus agreed with many of Luther's ideas, but feared that they would destroy Christian unity. When peasants rose in rebellion, Luther condemned them: Equality before God did not mean equality on earth, and pragmatically, Luther needed the support of the German princes against Emperor Charles V, who remained on the throne but had placed the matter in the hands of his brother, Ferdinand. In 1555, Charles and the princes agreed to the Peace of Augsburg, by which each prince would determine the religion of his subjects. Lutheranism became the state religion Scandinavia. In Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli removed stained glass windows and eliminated music from worship. When Pope Clement VII was unable to annul the marriage of England's Henry VIII , Parliament established a separate church withthe monarch as its head. John Calvin agreed with Luther's theology, but went further in emphasizing God's sovereignty and the concept of predestination:Some were predestined for heaven, others for hell. His leadership made Geneva, Switzerland, one of the leading centers of Protestantism.
For Protestants, the family was the center of human society, but theological equality did not lead to equality in marriage: The wife's role was to obey her husband andbear children. Education was encouraged because of the necessity to read God's word. Catholic holy days and religious carnivals were abolished; some wentfurther,closing theaters and abolishing dancing.
Within the Catholic Church, the most important religious order was the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, founded by Ignatius Loyola, whose The Spiritual Exercises was a primer on how to find God. Pope Paul III called the council of Trent, which met from 1545 to 1563; its final report reaffirmed and emboldened traditional Catholic doctrine, producing a Catholic "Counter-Reformation" that sought to not only halt the advance of Protestantism but expand the size, scope, and power of the Catholic Church.
It was a violent century. In France, 3,000 Protestants, or Huguenots, were massacred on Saint Bartholomew's Day, 1572. Henry III, a Catholic, was assassinated by a monk in 1589, and the Huguenot head of the Bourbon family became Henry IV. He converted to Catholicism, reconciling the majority, and he issued the Edict of Nantes, granting religious toleration to the Huguenots: Both actions were taken for political reasons. Spain's Philip II's authoritarian rule and persecution of Protestants led to rebellion in the Netherlands. It was crushed in the south, but not the north: The Dutch became independent in 1648.
Elizabeth was a moderate Protestant, whose policies satisfied most, but not the radical Puritans who wanted to rid the Church of England of Catholic-like rituals nor her exiled Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who plotted against herand was beheaded. English seamen attacked Spanish forces in the Americas, and Elizabeth supported the Dutch. In retaliation, Philip II sent a naval Armada against England in 1588. It ended in defeat for Spain.
Take a 3-D tour of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII's flagship
This tour requires a VRML plug-in,
available for free for Windows users here and for Mac users here.
Upon successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
- Outline the major points of contention between Martin Luther and the Church, and show why they did not find a way to compromise and avoid schism.
- Discuss the various forms Protestantism took and how these groups became dominant in various parts of Europe.
- Examine the political, social, and economic impact of the Reformation and Protestantism on the continent of Europe.
- Describe the Catholic Reformation, show how it responded to Protestant criticism, and how it created the modern Catholic Church.
Please progress through this module as follows:
Before reading the materials below, review the Module Eleven Identification Terms. As you progress through the material, take note of information which helps answer, identify, and explain those items.
- Read the following in Spielvogel, Western Civilization:
- Chapter Thirteen, "Reformation and Religious Warfare in the Sixteenth Century."
- Martin Luther's Comments Before the Diet of Worms.
Complete the Module Eleven Terms Quiz (30 pts.) by clicking Assessments and selecting Module Eleven Terms Quiz.
Click here for a pre-formatted Word document upon which to complete your Module Eleven assignments. Complete all assignments using a single Microsoft Word, or a compatible word processor, file with Times New Roman, 12-point font. Save the file to your computer as "yourname_m11." Once you have completed both assignments, submit them for grading by accessing the Assignments tab in the Course Tools menu, selecting Module Eleven Assignment, attaching your Word document, and clicking the Submit button.
- Essay: In 1521, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V called Martin Luther to Worms, seeking Luther's recantation of "heretical" doctrine. Luther refused, however, and offered a justification for his refusal. This rubric will be used to score your essay assignments. (25 pts.)
- Read Luther's comments, Before the Diet of Worms, and explain his refusal to recant.
Once you have completed all assignments for Module Eleven, submit them as one, single Word file by accessing the Assignments tab in the Course Tools menu and selecting Module Eleven Assignment, attaching your Word document, and clicking the Submit button.
When you have completed the work in Module Eleven, proceed to Module Twelve.