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9-08-2015, 15:39


In late medieval Europe, most people accepted the Catholic Church’s teachings and found religious activities meaningful, but a signifi cant minority called for reforms. In the 1520s, that group came to include Martin Luther, a professor of theology at Wittenberg University in Germany. Luther wrote and spoke against church teachings, and his ideas turned into a movement, in part through the new technology of the printing press. He and other reformers worked with political authorities, and much of central Europe and Scandinavia broke with the Catholic Church and established independent Protestant churches. In England, King Henry VIII’s desire for a male heir led him to split with the Catholic Church and establish a separate English church, actions which some people accepted willingly while others resisted. Protestant and Catholic political authorities all thought that their territories should have one offi cial state church, but some individuals and groups rejected this idea, and believed that religious allegiance should be voluntary. These groups also developed ideas about various Christian teachings that were considered radical, so they were intensely persecuted and often forced to fl ee from one place to another. Peasants who used Lutheran ideas to justify their demands for social justice were also suppressed. The Reformation brought with it more than a century of religious war, beginning in Switzerland and Germany, then spreading to France and the Netherlands later in the sixteenth century. In the late 1530s, the Catholic Church began to respond more vigorously to Protestant challenges and began carrying out internal reforms as well. Both of these moves were led by the papacy and new religious orders such as the Jesuits, and they culminated in the Council of Trent, which reaffi rmed traditional Catholic doctrine. At the same time, the ideas of John Calvin inspired a second wave of Protestant reform, in which order, piety, and discipline were viewed as marks of divine favor. This emphasis on morality and social discipline emerged in Catholic areas as well, and authorities throughout Europe sought to teach people more about their particular variant of Christianity in the process of confessionalization. This process of confessionalization and social discipline – what some scholars have dubbed the “long Reformation” – lasted well beyond the sixteenth century, as educating people and encouraging (or forcing) them to alter their behavior took far longer than either Protestant or Catholic reformers anticipated. As we will see in chapter 9 , in the seventeenth century religious divisions would combine with dynastic and political disputes to lead to the Thirty Years War (1618–48), a confl ict that would involve almost every European power. Though the combatants did not acknowledge it openly, the Thirty Years War also involved economic issues, particularly trade and the wealth trade created, which shaped European society in the early modern period as much as did the religious changes of the Reformations, as we will see in the next chapter. QUESTIONS 1 How did Luther and other early Protestant reformers seek to change the institutions, practices, and teachings of the western Christian church? In your judgment, did they succeed in their aims? 2 In Germany, Switzerland, and England, how did political leaders shape religious reform? 3 Why were the ideas of radical reformers and peasants viewed as threatening by most political and religious authorities? 4 How were Calvin’s ideas about human nature, God’s will, and proper leadership refl ected in the laws and institutions of Geneva, and those of other places to which Calvinism spread? What made these ideas attractive? 5 What measures did the papacy and the Council of Trent adopt to reform the Catholic Church? To counter Protestant teachings? In your judgment, did they succeed in their aims? 6 What role did the new religious orders such as the Jesuits play in the reinvigoration and spread of Roman Catholicism? What made them effective? 7 In what ways were the religious wars in Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands similar to one another? In what ways were they different? 8 The Protestant Reformation is seen by some authors as the beginning of the modern world. Do you agree? Why or why not? FURTHER READING John Bossy , Christianity in the West, 1400–1700 ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1985), provides a lively, brief overview of the major changes and continuities in this era. Solid surveys of the Reformation include Euan Cameron , The European Reformation, 2nd edn ( Oxford : Clarendon Press , 2012), which focuses only on Protestants, and Hans Hillerbrand, The Division of Christendom: Christianity in the Sixteenth Century ( Louisville: Westminster-John Knox , 2007), which includes discussion of Catholic issues. R. Po-chia Hsia , A Companion to the Reformation World ( Oxford : Blackwell, 2004), includes essays on a range of topics, each with a long bibliography, as does Hsia’s Reform and Expansion, c. 1500–c. 1660, vol. VI of the Cambridge History of Christianity ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2006). Peter Matheson, ed., Reformation Christianity, vol. V of A People’s History of Christianity ( Minneapolis: Fortress Press , 2006), includes essays on the religious life of ordinary men and women. Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 1989), provides a thorough grounding in Luther’s thought, while Bruce Gordon , Calvin (New Haven : Yale University Press , 2009) does the same for Calvin. G. H. Williams , The Radical Reformation, 3rd edn ( Kirksville, MO : Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies , 1992), remains an important broad analysis. For the impact of Calvinism, see Philip Benedict, Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 2004). Good surveys of the Catholic Reformation include Michael A. Mullett, The Catholic Reformation ( London: Routledge, 1999), and R. Po-chia Hsia , The World of Catholic Renewal, 1540–1770, 2nd edn ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2005), which includes extended coverage of colonial Catholicism. Louis Chatellier , The Europe of the Devout: The Catholic Reformation and the Formation of a New Society ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1989), focuses especially on France, while Sarah Nalle, God in La Mancha: Religious Reform and the People of Cuenca, 1500–1650 ( Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press , 1992), offers a well-documented analysis of one particular town. John W. O’Malley , SJ, The First Jesuits ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1993), looks at the beginnings of the Jesuit order, while Dauril Alden, The Making of an Enterprise: The Society of Jesus in Portugal, its Empire and Beyond, 1540–1750 ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 1996), analyzes the worldwide mission. Specialized studies of the Reformation in France include Barbara Diefendorf, Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1991), and Mack P. Holt, The French Wars of Religion, 1562–1629 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1998). For England, see Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1993); Peter Marshall, ed., The Impact of the English Reformation 1500–1640 ( London: Edward Arnold , 1997); Ethan Shagan, Popular Politics and the English Reformation ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2003); G. W. Bernard , The Late Medieval English Chiurch: Vitality and Vulnerability before the Break with Rome ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 2012). For Germany, see Susan C. Karant-Nunn, The Reformation of Ritual: An Interpretation of Early Modern Germany ( London: Routledge, 1997), and Thomas A. Brady , German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400–1650 ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2009). For the Low Countries, see Alastair Duke, ed., Reformation and Revolt in the Low Countries ( London: Hambledon, 1990). For eastern Europe, see Karin Maag, ed., The Reformation in Eastern and Central Europe ( New York : Scholar Press , 1997). For analysis of the ways in which religious messages were conveyed, see Robert W. Scribner , For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1981), and Mark U. Edwards , Jr. , Printing, Propaganda and Martin Luther ( Berkeley: University of California Press , 1994). For discussions of toleration and persecution, see Brad Gregory , Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1999); John Coffey , Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England: 1558–1689 ( London: Longman, 2000); Benjamin J. Kaplan, Divided by Faith: Religious Confl ict and the Practice of Toleration in Early Modern Europe ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 2007). For more suggestions and links see the companion website www.cambridge.org/wiesnerhanks . NOTE 1 This was the motto of the Calvinist consistory at Nîmes in France, translated and quoted in Raymond A. Mentzer , “ Disciplina nervus ecclesiae: The Calvinist Reform of Morals at Nîmes ,” Sixteenth Century Journal 18 ( 1987): 89–115.