• The Protestant Reformation, started by Martin Luther,
was a period beginning in the early 1500s that brought
widespread intellectual and religious changes.
• A movement called Christian Humanism, or Northern
Renaissance humanism, was led by Desiderius Erasmus
and designed to reform the Catholic Church.
• The need for reform came after a period of widespread
corruption in the Church.
Religious Impact of the Renaissance
Erasmus had strong faith in the power of
education. This belief extended to the
idea that a proper education could be
used to mold peaceful minds, free from
impure appetites. Holbein surrounded his
subject with objects related to his
Erasmus studied Greek texts,
including the Greek version of
the Christian Bible. He also
edited the works of Jerome, a
medieval figure known as one of
the fathers of the Catholic
Church, who published a Latin
version of the Bible.
Dutch theologian and
humanist Desiderius Erasmus
was one of the greatest
intellectuals of his time. He
promoted the humanist belief
that people could better
themselves by studying the
classics. Through his
writings, such as The Praise
of Folly, Erasmus encouraged
reform within the Church by
calling out ecclesiastical
abuses and comparing them
to practices from the past.
• Martin Luther’s break from the Catholic Church to begin
the Protestant Reformation was based on the idea that
people received salvation through faith instead of good
works to help others.
• Luther’s ideas were written in his Ninety-five Theses and
made public in 1517.
• Luther broke with the Catholic Church over issues such
as baptism, the Eucharist, and the rules keeping clergy
celibate and unmarried.
• After Martin Luther was excommunicated from the
Church and sent into hiding, his religious views became
the Lutheran religion, the first Protestant religion.
Martin Luther Disagrees with the Church
• The Catholic Church stressed achieving salvation
through both good works and faith. Luther
believed that good works could result in
righteousness but not salvation.
• In the Ninety-five Theses, Luther criticized the
selling of indulgences.
• These disagreements eventually led Luther to
break completely with the Catholic Church and
create the first Protestant church.
• The Holy Roman emperor, Charles V, saw Luther’s
movement as a disruption to political and social order.
• Charles V wanted to keep his empire Catholic, but his
rivalry with Francis I of France led to wars.
• Religious warfare lasted many years, until the Peace of
Augsburg. As a result, German states were allowed to
choose whether their subjects would follow Catholicism
Political Impact of the German Reformation
The Peace of Augsburg
• The treaty formally recognized the division of
religion in Germany.
• It allowed German states to choose between
Catholicism and Lutheranism.
• It held that a political ruler, but not subjects,
could determine a state’s religion.
• It called for Lutheran and Catholic states to share
the same legal rights.
In 1555 the peace of Augsburg ended religious warfare in
John Calvin and Calvinism
• Converted to Protestantism
• Fled from his native France to Switzerland
• Published Institutes of the Christian Religion, which
established him as a leading thinker in Protestantism
• Believed in the all-powerful nature of God and
• Like Martin Luther, believed salvation was justified by
• Calvinism replaced Lutheranism as most important
form of Protestantism
John Calvin (1509–1564)
John Calvin on Predestination
“All are not created on equal terms, but some are
preordained to eternal life, others to eternal
damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been
created for one or other of these ends, we say that
he has been predestinated to life or to death.”
— from John Calvin, Institutes
of the Christian Religion, 1536
The Zwinglian Reformation
• Ulrich Zwingli was an influential priest in the
Swiss city of Zürich.
• Zwingli persuaded the Zürich city council to
introduce religious reforms.
• He supported a new church service that featured
scripture reading, prayer, and sermons.
• He sought an alliance with Martin Luther and the
• Zwingli was killed in a war between Protestant
and Catholic states in Switzerland.
• Advocated for complete separation of church and
• Members would not participate in government.
• Members were not baptized until they reached
• Declared ultimate church authority should rest with
the local community of believers
• Each church chose its own minister from the
Why were Anabaptists considered dangerous
radicals by both Catholics and Protestants?
Reformation and Society
• Family placed at the center of community life;
clergy could marry
• Anti-Semitism common
o Martin Luther hostile to Jews, urged that
synagogues be destroyed
o Establishment of ghettos in the Papal States
• Role of women was to obey husband and bear children
What was European society like during the Reformation?
• The Catholic Reformation was a revitalization of
the Catholic Church. It was also known as the
• Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus,
o Members of the Jesuit order vowed
obedience to the pope.
o The Jesuits used education to spread their
o They were successful in missionary work.
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