Ch. 13: The Age of Reformation Prelude to Reformation: The Northern Renaissance



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Nicholas Schenone

Cody Sharp



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Ch. 13: The Age of Reformation
Prelude to Reformation: The Northern Renaissance

  • Christian or northern Renaissance humanism major goal was the reform of Christendom

  • Northern humanists cultivated a knowledge of the classics (common bond that united all humanists)

  • Northern humanists focused on the sources of early Christianity

  • Ran into bitter opposition when they began to call for radical change in the methods and aims of theological study

  • The most important characteristic of northern humanism was its reform program

  • Believed that human beings had the ability to reason and improve themselves

  • Believed that to change society they must first change he human beings who compose it

  • The most influential of all the Christian humanists, and in a way the symbol of the movement itself, was Desiderius Erasmus

  • Erasmus formulated and popularized the reform program of Christian humanism

  • Called his conception of religion “the philosophy of Christ” - meant that Christianity should be a guiding philosophy for the direction of daily life

  • Erasmus’ reform program did not have the desired effect but his work helped prepare the way for the Reformation

  • Thomas More wrote Utopia, an account of idealistic life and institutions of community

Prelude to Reformation: Church and Religion

  • Clergy were increasingly held by either nobility or wealthier members of the bourgeoisie

  • Discontent grew due to the practice of pluralism, holding many offices; led to the problem of absenteeism, church officeholders neglected their duties and passed it to priests

  • Collections of relics grew as more people sought the certainty of salvation- attached were indulgences that could officially reduce one’s time in purgatory

  • Popular mysticism bears an important relationship to the Reformation- minimized the importance of formal church and undermined its position

Martin Luther and the Reformation in Germany

  • Martin Luther split the church, destroying religious unity of western Christendom

  • Luther focused on his major concern, the assurance of salvation

  • To Luther, the “justice of God” was the grace of God that bestows salvation freely to humans through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross- purely God’s decision

  • Doctrine of justification, act by which a person is made deserving of salvation by grace and faith alone, became the primary doctrine of the Protestant Reformation

  • Pope Leo X issued a special jubilee indulgence to finance St. Peter’s Basilica

  • Luther was greatly distressed by the sale of indulgences and issued his Ninety-Five Theses- a stunning indictment of the abuses in the sale of indulgences

  • Luther was summoned to appear before the imperial diet of the Holy Roman Empire and was expected to recant; Luther refused and was excommunicated

  • Charles V was outraged by Luther’s audacity and made the Edict of Worms- Luther was outlawed within the empire, his works were to be burned, and he was to be captured

  • Lutheranism spread rapidly, pamphlets were useful to the spread of the Reformation

  • The Peasants’ War- peasants dissatisfaction came from non-economic improvement, abuses from local lords, and taxes; Thomas Müntzer supported the peasants

  • Luther, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants, called upon German princes to stop the revolt, he did not believe in social revolt

  • German princes massacred the remaining peasant hordes at Frankenhausen

  • Luther was more dependent on state authorities for growth and maintenance of his reformed church

Germany and the Reformation: Religion and Politics

  • Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, hoped to preserve the unity of the Catholic faith

  • His attempt to settle the Lutheran problem was inadequate, wound up demanding the Lutheran’s return to the Catholic church

  • Formed a defensive alliance known as the Schmalkaldic League- vowed to assist each other “whenever any one of us is attacked on account of the Word of God and the doctrine of the Gospel”

  • Peace of Augsburg- a turning point of the Reformation, the division of the Christianity was acknowledged and Lutheranism was granted the same legal rights as Catholicism

  • Settlement did not recognize the principle of religious toleration for individuals

The Spread of the Protestant Reformation

  • 1397: The Union of Kalmar brought about the unification of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under the rule of the King of Denmark

  • Switzerland was home to two major reform movements, Zwinglianism and Calvinism

  • Ulrich Zwingli strongly influenced evangelical reforms- reform movement faced a serious political problem

  • October 1531: War erupted between the Swiss protestant and Catholic cantons

  • The Anabaptists formed a large variety of different groups who shared common characteristics

  • They advocated adult rather than infant baptism

  • One early group of Anabaptists known as the Swiss Brethren arose in Zürich

  • Dutch Anabaptism reverted to its pacifist tendencies, especially evident in the works of Menno Simons

  • Henry VIII divorced his first wife Catherine

  • 1534: Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy

  • The Act of Supremacy and the Treason Act went beyond religious issues in their implications

  • Thomas More challenged the new order- he was beheaded in London on July 6, 1536

  • John Calvin published the first edition of the Christian Religion

  • Calvin stood very close to Luther on most documents- believed in predestination

Social Impact of the Protestant Reformation

  • Catholicism had praised the family and sanctified its existence by making marriage a sacrament

  • Protestant reformers called upon men and women to read the bible and participate in religious services together

  • Renaissance humanism had significantly altered the content of education in Europe

  • Catholics perceived the importance of secondary schools and universities in educating people to catholic perspectives

  • Many religious practices were criticized by Protestant reformers as superstitious

The Catholic Reformation

  • Lutheranism had become established in parts of Germany and Scandinavia, and Calvinism in parts of Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and eastern Europe

  • The Catholic Reformation was a mixture of old and new elements

  • The Jesuits became the chief instrument of the Catholic Reformation- established highly disciplined schools

  • The pontificate of Pope Paul III proved to be a turning point in the reform of the papacy

  • A group of cardinals met in the city of Trent on the border between Germany and Italy

  • This Council of Trent met from 1545 to 1563

  • After the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic church possessed a clear body of doctrine and a unified church


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