Religious Reforms Of The 16th Century

The history behind religious reform movements dates back to the 16th century that saw the rise of catholic reforms and counter-reforms, where the former refers to the main response tactic employed by the Catholic Church in retaliation to the protestant movement. All these movements were therefore centered mainly on Protestantism and the Catholicism counter-reformation activities. Nonetheless, many historical scholars have cited evidence on the accounts of catholic counter-reforms responses to Martin Luther during the 16th centuries, the Council of Trent, as well as the founding of new orders, more particularly the Jesuits.

And indeed the start of the 16th century saw the elicitation and propagation of the religious reformation. This run for a few centuries, but ceased with the challenging of the Roman Catholic Church, led by the likes of Martin Luther and John Calvin. By mid16th century, the Roman Catholic Church inadvertently realized that it needed to reorganize and strategize itself, which then imperatively signified the start of the “Counter-reformation” period. More importantly, it was the result of the widespread crisis of the mid-14th centuries that mostly hurt the status of the clergy. The crises saw the rise of immense Babylonian captivities, immense division among the religions and religious beliefs; which was well known as the great schism, and finally saw the eruption of the conciliar movement, which mainly was to reform the church and give more power to a council, but was rejected by several popes between 15th and 16th centuries.

The major significance to the rise of Protestantism was to see an end in the corruption in the Catholic Church. For instance, the sale of church offices was quite rampant; what scholar’s refer to simony, and therefore the likes of Martin Luther were hurt and outraged by the occupancy of unqualified people in offices, who would later become bishops or even cardinals. Moreover, Protestantism aimed to see an end to pluralism, in which case certain officer held more than one office at a particular time. Finally, many people wanted to see an end to absenteeism, sale of indulgences, nepotism, as well as the spread of moral decadence in the papal office. In the wake of the rise of Martin Luther, many had criticized the rampant corruption in the church and the widespread hypocrisy among the clergy. In light of this remarks, many contemporaries believed that Erasmus laid the path that Luther would later follow bring about the growth of the renaissance humanism.

In the protestant forms, many critics of the Church now emphasized on a personal relationship with God as key to their success. During the years of 1329-1385, J.Wyclif alluded that indeed the Bible and still is the sole authority and therefore foreshadowing the Roman Catholics beliefs in a special connection between the Church and the creator; God. He mainly stressed on the importance of observing a personal communion with the Almighty God, and further discarded away the importance of sacraments. Many of the Protestants then continued these ideas into the 16th century and many believers encouraged Christians against the practice of Roman Catholicism and rather simply live and make their religious lives a personal experience.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic form saw a strengthening of the church and the widespread call for Catholics not to convert to Protestants. There was then a call by Pope Paul III, for the Council of Trent in the 1 century to guide the reform movements. The council’s major role was therefore to reaffirm traditional catholic beliefs and end the abuses in the Church. As such, this reaffirmation saw the cease of the sale of indulgences and the creation of an Index, which was a list of banned books from the Roman Catholic. Overall, the reformation in the Catholic form was a loss of religious unity in Western Europe, and while Political schism resulted, there was significant choosing of religions according to rulers and while some states remained Catholic other became Protestants.

It is interesting to see how the Protestant Reformation had a great impact on the Political standings of many Nations during the 16th and 17th Centuries. And indeed as expected, there were numerous political battles, and these were experienced in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Sweden to mention but a few. In Germany there were widespread political battles over Lutheranism and this mainly was attributed to the political motivation of many of Germany’s princes. This meant that many political figures could escape the authority and scrutiny of the Roman Catholic Church and eventually/otherwise confiscate church lands for the state’s benefits. While states such as Denmark and Sweden became Lutheran, the German southern part largely remained Catholic. As such the Protestantism reform did not spread much beyond Scandinavian countries or even the northern parts of Germany. Unlike Lutheranism, Calvinism did spread to most parts of Europe, and more so the Western parts of Europe. Nonetheless, there were certain political figures such as Emperor Charles (V) that would hear nothing about the Protestantism reformation and thus worked hard to protect and preserve the hegemony of Roman Catholicism. As such many believed that Charles was a conservatist whose main role was to maintain a religious unity in the major stated of Europe. He therefore became a major ally to Pope Paul and tried tirelessly to bring to an end heresy.

The Habsburg-Valois Wars were another major effect of the Protestantism reformations. In total, there were five wars between early 15th century and mid 15 century; undertaken by France and the Hapsburgs over the State of Italy. In essence, France had tired over time to Keep As much a possible Germany divide, although France itself was a Roman Catholic state. This rift among the states played a major role in the long-term division of the German State and thus the Catholic Unity experienced over the state of Germany ceased forever, never to resurface.

Religious reforms were imperative to the “Making of Europe”, mainly because many states in Europe highly depended on the Church for both its moral authority and for the supply of well-educated men to serve as the main officials. The Church in itself accompanied by the reforms gained a good upper hand over the states in Europe. This for a large part of the centuries after the elicitation of reforms saw the working together of empires and the papal rule, and this led to the nadir of the papacy in the 10th century. The former was as a result of the rampant political power fragmentation in most of the states in Europe. More particularly was the viewing of the church as an institution that transcended all state boundaries, and thus in some ways the former (European States) were seen to act as department of the Church, tasked with the sole purpose of enforcing law and order among the citizens.

What is referred to as a theocratic papacy came into play defeating the theocratic empire. This defeat occurred about 1070 to 1299 and during this time Europe was a kind of a continent that was theocratic and led by a dominant spiritual leader who enforced and exercised power of the people. Thus, there was no much struggle between the church and the European states but the major hurdle was in the understanding of two different universal order ideas.

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