Chapter 15: The Reformation: 1415 – 1650 I

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Chapter 15: The Reformation: 1415 – 1650
In Chapter 14, you read about the Renaissance. Much of this took place in Italy. This chapter takes you north to Germany. There you will see how a monk named Luther began the religious reform movement. From Germany, you will cross the English Channel and meet Henry VIII, who also led reform. Next, you will travel to Geneva to learn about John Calvin and his beliefs. Finally, you will journey back to Italy. There you will see how the Catholic Church decided to fight the other reformers—the Protestants.

Goals for Learning

  • To define the term Reformation

  • To explain the importance of Martin Luther in the Reformation

  • To list the three basic reforms Martin Luther made

  • To explain how the Anglican Church was founded

  • To describe the beliefs of Calvinism

  • To describe the Catholic Reformation


Reformation Europe (1550)
Map Skills: Before the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church had great power in most of Western Europe. However, people began to challenge this power. New religions began. This map shows where different religions had developed by 1550.

Study the map, then answer the following questions:

  • 1. What religion was practiced in England at this time?

  • 2. What religions were practiced in the Holy Roman Empire?

  • 3. Where was the Catholic religion still practiced?

  • 4. Where did the Calvinist religion develop?

  • 5. What religion dominated Western Europe at this time?


Reading Strategy: Summarizing
When you summarize, you ask questions about what you are reading. That way you can review what you have just read. As you read the text in this chapter, ask yourself these questions:

  • What details are most important to the person or period in history?

  • What is the main thing being said about the person?

  • What events are pointed out about this period in history?

Key Vocabulary Words
Lesson 1

Authority: Power

Reformer: A person who tries to change something

Heretic: A person who holds a belief that a religious authority thinks is false

Lesson 2

Reformation: A movement that challenged and changed the Catholic religion in Europe

Salvation: Eternal happiness for one’s soul

Indulgence: A church paper that says that a person will not be punished after death for their sins

Purgatory: A place of suffering after death

Thesis: A statement that people argue about or try to prove

Lesson 3

Excommunicate: To say that someone can no longer be a member of a church

Lutheran Church: The church established by Martin Luther

Minister: A person who can lead a religious ceremony in a Lutheran church

Ritual: A ceremony

Baptism: A ritual by which a person becomes a Christian

Communion: A ritual by which Christians grow in their faith

Protestant: A reformer who protested against the Catholic Church

Lesson 4

Annul: To announce that a marriage never existed between two people

Archbishop: The top religious leader in a church province

Anglican Church: The Church of England

Compromise: An agreement in which both sides give up something

Puritan: An English Protestant who wanted to purify the Anglican Church

Purify: To make clean
Lesson 5

Calvinism: The religious movement founded by John Calvin

Elect: A Calvinist term for those whom God has chosen to save

Elder: An experienced, older person

Huguenot: A French Calvinist

Massacre: The act of killing many people who are often defenseless

Lesson 6

Catholic Reformation: The Catholic Church’s reforms that attempted to fight Protestant beliefs

Censor: To prevent someone from reading or viewing something

Roman Inquisition: A Catholic court that inquired into people’s religious beliefs

Jesuit: A member of the Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus

Lesson 1: People Challenge the Church’s Authority

  • To describe how the king of France challenged the pope and Rome

  • To define the word reformer as used in this chapter

  • To understand the threat that the reformers posed to the Catholic Church

  • Authority

  • Power

  • Reformer

  • A person who tries to change something

In Unit 2, you studied the Middles Ages. Historians also call this period the Age of Faith. The Catholic Church had great religious and political power. In fact, the pope could command kings. Beginning in the 1300s, some people challenged the authority, or power, of the church.

Who Challenged the Church’s Political Authority?
In 1294, King Philip IV of France tried to tax church officials. The pope told the French clergy not to pay the tax. In 1303, the king arrested Pope Boniface VIII, an Italian. Six years later, the king helped to elect a French pope, Clement V. The new pope moved from the Vatican in Rome to Avignon in France.

Seventy years passed before a pope lived in Rome again. But problems continued. At different times, more than one person claimed to be pope. Some church leaders suggested that a council should take the place of the pope. All this weakened the church’s power.

Who Challenged the Church’s Religious Authority?
Other people challenged the religious authority of the church. We call them reformers because they believed that the church needed to be reformed, or changed, for the better.

One reformer in the 1300s was the Englishman John Wycliffe. He said that the church had too much power and wealth. He also said that the Bible, and not leaders of the church, should be the authority for Christians. To allow people to read the Bible, Wycliffe translated the Latin Bible into English.


  • Heretic

  • A person who holds a belief that a religious authority thinks is false

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What are some important details that help you understand why people challenged the church?

People called Wycliffe’s followers the “Poor Preachers.?? They had no interest in money. All they wanted to do was to teach religion to people in their own language instead of in Latin.

Why Did John Huss Criticize the Church?
The ideas of John Wycliffe influenced John Huss. He was a well-known scholar at the University of Prague in Bohemia. (Bohemia was part of the Holy Roman Empire. It is now part of the Czech Republic.) Huss thought that the church’s clergy were too worldly and that the church should remove them from office.

When Huss and his followers criticized the church, both religious and political leaders feared a rebellion. Church leaders said that Huss was a heretic. A heretic teaches a belief that a religious authority thinks is false. In 1415, they arrested Huss and burned him at the stake.

Lesson 1 Review
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank

  • Avignon

  • Bible

  • Huss

  • King Philip IV

  • Wycliffe

  • 1. _____ of France challenged the authority of the pope in 1294.

  • 2. In 1309, Pope Clement V moved from the Vatican to _____.

  • 3. John _____ said that the church had too much money and power.

  • 4. Wycliffe translated the _____ from Latin to English.

  • 5. The church burned John _____ as a heretic.

What do you think?

Why did the church not want to lose its political and religious authority?


Lesson 2: Martin Luther Leads the Reformation

  • To explain Martin Luther’s disagreements with the Catholic Church

  • To describe the way Luther spread the word about his disagreements

  • Reformation

  • A movement that challenged and changed the Catholic religion in Europe

  • Salvation

  • Eternal happiness for one’s soul

  • Indulgence

  • A church paper that says that a person will not be punished after death for their sins

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What reformer is being introduced in this lesson?

Just over 100 years after Huss was executed, Martin Luther challenged the church’s religious authority. What he did began a new period of European history—the Reformation. This movement challenged and changed Christianity in Europe.

What Troubled Luther?
Martin Luther was born in Germany in 1483. His father wanted him to become a lawyer. But when Luther studied law, he did not like it. Then, in 1505, Luther was caught in a summer storm and lightning nearly hit him. Fearing for his life, Luther promised to become a monk if he lived. In 1507, he kept his promise.

In 1512, Luther began to teach religion at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony. Questions about salvation, or eternal happiness for his soul, troubled him. How, he asked, should he act to save his soul? Luther struggled for a long time with this problem. Then, while reading the Bible, he found his answer.

Luther came to believe that he could win salvation by faith alone. He said that fasting, prayer, and religious ceremonies could not guarantee, or promise, salvation. But the Catholic Church said that people needed to do these good works to save their souls. Luther said that his discovery made him feel as though he were “born again.??

Why Did the Church Begin to Sell Indulgences?
In 1517, Luther and the church leadership began to struggle with one another because Pope Leo X started to sell indulgences. These are papers the church gives people that say they will not be punished after death for their sins. People bought indulgences for themselves and for loved ones who were already dead. The church said that doing this was a good deed. The pope sold indulgences because he needed more money to build St. Peter’s Church, a big church in Rome.


  • Purgatory

  • A place of suffering after death

  • Thesis

  • A statement that people argue about or try to prove

In 1517, a monk named John Tetzel began selling indulgences near Luther’s university. Tetzel told people to buy an indulgence to free a friend’s soul from purgatory. This is what is believed to be a place of suffering after death. Tetzel said that the person who bought the indulgence could be sure of salvation. He raised a great deal of money and sent it back to Rome for St. Peter’s Church.

What Are Luther’s 95 Theses?
Someone asked Luther what he thought about the selling of indulgences. He said that it was wrong because people could not buy forgiveness for sins. On hearing this, Tetzel criticized Luther.

Luther began to write a series of 95 theses, or statements, against indulgences and other actions of the church. He nailed these statements on the door of a church. He wanted to argue the theses with church officials. On October 31, 1517, he let other people read his ideas. Printers printed Luther’s 95 statements. People sent them to other countries. Because of this, the sale of indulgences went down, and the church lost money. The church decided to take steps to stop Luther’s influence in Europe.

Then and Now

Origins of the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches

Many Protestant churches began during the Reformation. Martin Luther formed the Lutheran Church and John Calvin’s ideas shaped the Presbyterian Church. Both churches rejected the power of the pope and stressed the authority of the Bible. Their members believed in the importance of individual faith.

Both churches are still thriving today in the United States. The Evangelical Lutheran Church has just over 5 million members. The Presbyterian Church has almost 4 million members. There are many other Protestant churches as well.


History in Your Life

Disks for the Eyes

When were eyeglasses invented? The Chinese claim to have used them before A.D. 300. Marco Polo wrote in 1275 that he saw many Chinese wearing glasses. The scientist Roger Bacon mentioned eyeglasses in his writings in 1268. History, however, has no record of their invention.

We do know that by the 1300s, eyeglasses were popular among Europe’s upper classes. However, people could use them only for seeing at a distance. What about glasses for seeing objects that were close? It took another hundred years to learn how to make them.

Venice became the chief producer of eyeglasses. However, people did not call them glasses. They called them “disks for the eyes.??

In the 1500s, the demand for eyeglasses increased. The printing presses were producing more books and more people were reading. Some scholars needed glasses to be able to read.

Lesson 2 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

  • 1. Martin Luther was born in _____.

  • A England

  • B Germany

  • C Italy

  • D France

  • 2. As a monk and teacher, Luther struggled with the idea of _____.

  • A salvation

  • B vows

  • C confrontations

  • D translations

  • 3. Luther believed that people could be saved by _____ alone.

  • A the Bible

  • B good works

  • C faith

  • D indulgences

  • 4. Pope Leo X began to sell _____ to pay for the building of St. Peter’s Church.

  • A theses

  • B portraits

  • C frescoes

  • D indulgences

  • 5. Luther wrote _____ theses, or statements, about church actions that he did not agree with.

  • A 85

  • B 95

  • C 105

  • D 1500

What do you think?

Do you think that Luther had trouble with more than just indulgences? Explain your answer.


Lesson 3: Luther Starts His Own Church

  • To explain how the Lutheran Church was founded

  • To explain why many German princes became Lutherans

  • Excommunicate

  • To say that someone can no longer be a member of a church

  • Lutheran Church

  • The church established by Martin Luther

  • Minister

  • A person who can lead a religious ceremony in a Lutheran church

  • Ritual

  • A ceremony

  • Baptism

  • A ritual by which a person becomes a Christian

  • Communion

  • A ritual by which Christians grow in their faith

When Luther called for reform, the church ordered him to stop. Luther said he could not go against his beliefs. He said, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.??

What Did the Church Do to Luther?
In 1521, Pope Leo X said that Luther’s beliefs were wrong and excommunicated him. That is, the pope said that Luther was no longer a member of the Catholic Church. The ruler of the Holy Roman Empire—a Catholic—signed the Edict of Worms. This decree said that anyone could kill Luther without being punished. But several German princes protected Luther from this.

What Did Luther Want to Change?
Luther called for three reforms. First, he said that only faith in Jesus Christ could save people. Good works alone would not save them. Second, he taught that religious truth came from the Bible. People should read the Bible and decide for themselves what it meant. Third, Luther said that people did not need the clergy to tell them what the Bible means. To help people read the Bible, Luther translated it into German.

What Church Did Luther Begin?
In the beginning, Martin Luther did not want to break away from the Catholic Church. All he wanted was to debate his 95 theses and reform the church. However, in time, he started the Lutheran Church. His church had some differences from the Catholic Church. Catholic priests were not allowed to marry, but Lutheran ministers could. (Ministers are the leaders of religious ceremonies.) The job of a minister was to help people find or strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.

Luther also got rid of some of the rituals, or ceremonies, of the Catholic Church. Luther did, however, keep two rituals—Baptism, by which people become Christians, and Communion, by which Christians grow in their faith.


  • Protestant

  • A reformer who protested against the Catholic Church

Writing About History

Pretend you are Martin Luther. Explain what you meant when you said, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.?? In your notebook, write two or three sentences about this.

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

In your own words, summarize the three reforms that Luther called for.

Why Did German Princes Become Lutherans?
Many German princes liked Luther’s ideas. They began to protest the ways of the Catholic Church. Because of this, people called them Protestants. In the 1530s, war broke out between the armies of the Protestant Lutheran princes and Charles V, a Catholic ruler.

In 1546, Martin Luther died. Nine years after his death, a treaty was signed to stop the fighting. According to this treaty, each German prince could pick his own church. All the people in his area had to follow his religion. Called the Peace of Augsburg, the treaty kept the German princes from fighting for more than 50 years.

Lesson 3 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the answer to each question. Use complete sentences.

  • 1. What does the term excommunication mean?

  • 2. Why did the Catholic Church excommunicate Martin Luther?

  • 3. According to Luther, where could people find religious truth?

  • 4. What is one difference between a Catholic priest and a Lutheran minister?

  • 5. Why did people call religious reformers Protestants?

What do you think?

What might have kept Luther from starting a new church?


Lesson 4: Protestant Ideas Spread to England

  • To explain how a political problem started the Reformation in England

  • To describe the influence of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I on the church

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What important person is introduced in this section?

  • Annul

  • To announce that a marriage never existed between two people

Luther’s religious reform movement quickly spread beyond Germany. By 1534, it reached England, where Henry VIII ruled. Just 13 years before, Henry had attacked Luther’s ideas. To thank him, Pope Leo X called the king “Defender of the Faith.??

Why Did Henry VIII Break with the Pope?
A political problem started the Reformation in England. Henry VIII became king there in 1509. He married a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon. They had a daughter named Mary. In 1527, Henry VIII tried to end his marriage to Catherine. He wanted a son, but Catherine could not have more children. However, the Catholic Church did not allow divorce. Henry asked Pope Clement VII to annul the marriage. That is, to announce that the marriage had never existed.

Catherine refused to accept this. She asked her nephew, Charles V, who was the Holy Roman emperor, to influence the pope’s decision. Charles had an army in Italy, so Catherine won the pope’s support. He refused to annul the marriage. But by then, Henry had secretly married another woman, Anne Boleyn.


  • Archbishop

  • The top religious leader in a church province

  • Anglican Church

  • The Church of England

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What are some important details that help you understand Henry VIII?

What Was the Name of Henry’s New Church?
In order to divorce Catherine, Henry VIII appointed a new archbishop of Canterbury. An archbishop is the top religious leader in a church province. This archbishop said that Henry’s marriage to Catherine was not legal. In 1534, Parliament made the king the head of the Church of England, or Anglican Church. Henry took control of all lands the Catholic Church owned in England.

What Did Edward Do as King?
Henry and Anne had a daughter they named Elizabeth. But three years after their marriage, Henry said that Anne was not faithful to him and executed her. Then he married Jane Seymour and they had a son named Edward. When Henry died in 1547, his nine-year-old son became King Edward VI. The young king accepted several Protestant reforms. During his reign, Protestant bishops created the Book of Common Prayer for Anglican religious services.

Who Tried to Change the Protestant Reforms?
Edward ruled for only six years and died in 1553. Then Mary—Henry’s first child—became queen of England. She was a Catholic and used her power to make England a Catholic nation once again. To strengthen her power, she married the Catholic king of Spain, Philip II. But the English Protestants hated Mary and refused to become Catholics again.


  • Compromise

  • An agreement in which both sides give up something to stop an argument

  • Puritan

  • An English Protestant who wanted to purify the Anglican Church

  • Purify

  • To make clean

What Compromise Did Elizabeth Make?
When Mary died in 1558, her half-sister became Queen Elizabeth I. She tried to join together the Protestants and Catholics into the Anglican Church. The king or queen of England was still the head of the Anglican Church. But Anglican bishops ran the day-to-day church business. Many Anglican rituals became a blend of Catholic and Protestant ceremonies.

Not all Protestants liked this compromise, or agreement in which both sides give up something to stop an argument. Some wanted to rid the Anglican Church of Catholic rituals. Historians call this group of English Protestants the Puritans because they wanted to purify the church, or make it clean. In the 1600s, some Puritans left England and settled in North America.

Lesson 4 Review
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank

  • Anglican

  • Edward VI

  • Elizabeth I

  • Henry VIII

  • Puritans

  • 1. Pope Leo X gave _____ the name “Defender of the Faith.??

  • 2. Henry VIII of England began the _____ Church.

  • 3. During the reign of _____, the Anglican clergy produced the Book of Common Prayer.

  • 4. _____ tried to work out a compromise between the English Protestants and Catholics.

  • 5. The _____ were English Protestants who did not like the compromise and wanted to purify the church.

What do you think?

What do you think Charles V’s army might have done if the pope had let Henry divorce Catherine of Aragon?


Lesson 5: John Calvin Organizes a New Religion

  • To explain the effect John Calvin had on the Protestant Reformation

  • To describe what happened on St. Bartholomew’s Day

  • Calvinism

  • The religious movement founded by John Calvin

  • Elect

  • A Calvinist term for those whom God has chosen to save

  • Elder

  • An experienced, older person

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What religious movement is being described in this lesson?

Martin Luther had sparked the religious Reformation in 1517. Almost 20 years later, another man created an organized set of Protestant beliefs. Because his name was John Calvin, we call his religious movement Calvinism. He greatly influenced the Protestant Reformation.

What Did Calvin Teach?
John Calvin was born in France in 1509. During his life, his body was weak, but his will was strong. In 1536, he published his most important book—Institutes of the Christian Religion. This book contained what he thought each person should believe about religious questions.

First, Calvin taught that people are full of sin when they are born. Next, he said that few people would be saved from sin. Finally, Calvin told his followers that God had already chosen who would be saved. He called these special people the “elect.?? Calvin believed that the elect of God had a political mission. They were to rule Christian society.

Why was Calvin’s book important? Because for the first time, the Protestant movement had a fully organized set of beliefs. However, not all Protestants accepted Calvin’s ideas. In fact, the Lutherans in northern Germany accepted none of his ideas. The Anglicans in England accepted some and refused to accept others.

How Big Was Calvin’s Religious Community?
John Calvin’s teaching quickly spread. In 1541, the city officials of Geneva, Switzerland, asked him to organize their city into a religious community. (Geneva’s population was 20,000.) Calvin started a school there to train ministers. Then he set up a council of 12 elders. These men were older and experienced.


  • Huguenot

  • A French Calvinist

  • Massacre

  • The act of killing many people who are often defenseless

Next, Calvin gave these elders the power to make laws that said what was right and what was wrong. The elders said that playing cards, betting money on something, drinking alcohol, singing, and dancing were wrong, or sinful.

Finally, Calvin said that citizens had to go to church services several times a week. Members of the council even visited people’s homes once a year to make sure that people were leading good lives. The council put people in prison if they did not live the Calvinist way. Sometimes, the council forced people to leave the city. In time, Calvinists began to call Geneva a “city of saints.??

What Happened on St. Bartholomew’s Day?
Calvinism soon spread to the Catholic country of France. By 1560, about 15 percent of the French population was Calvinist. These French Calvinists became known as Huguenots. Many Catholics and Huguenots hated one another.

On August 24, 1572, the hate exploded. On that day, the Catholic Church was celebrating St. Bartholomew’s Day. At daybreak, in the city of Paris, Catholics began attacking and killing Huguenots. Historians call the attack the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. A massacre is the act of killing many people who are often defenseless.


For a month, in the towns and cities of France, Catholics murdered Protestants. More than 12,000 Huguenots lost their lives. But people still continued to become Calvinists. Finally in 1598, the king of France issued the Edict of Nantes. This gave the Protestant Huguenots more political and religious rights. It also protected Catholics by discouraging the building of Protestant churches in Catholic areas. Tension continued between Catholics and Protestants. In 1685, King Louis XIV ended the Edict of Nantes by making Protestantism illegal in France. Hundreds of thousands of Protestants fled France. The loss of so many skilled workers hurt the economy of France for many years.

Lesson 5 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

  • 1. John Calvin organized a set of _____ beliefs.

  • A Catholic

  • B Anglican

  • C Protestant

  • D Lutheran

  • 2. Calvin taught that people are born _____.

  • A sinful

  • B holy

  • C educated

  • D strong

  • 3. The city of _____ was organized into a religious community.

  • A Paris

  • B Rome

  • C Canterbury

  • D Geneva

  • 4. Calvin gave the _____ power to make laws.

  • A kings

  • B elders

  • C peasants

  • D elect

  • 5. St. _____ Day Massacre led to the death of many Huguenots.

  • A Peter’s

  • B Bartholomew’s

  • C Luther’s

  • D John’s

What do you think?

Calvin said that people are sinful and that God has already chosen those to be saved. Why do you think so many people accepted these ideas?


Lesson 6: The Catholic Reformation

  • To describe the purpose of the Council of Trent

  • To identify Ignatius of Loyola and his work

  • Catholic Reformation

  • The Catholic Church’s reforms that attempted to fight Protestant beliefs

  • Censor

  • To prevent someone from reading or viewing something

  • Roman Inquisition

  • A Catholic court that inquired into people’s religious beliefs

In the mid-1500s, the Catholic Church began its own reform—the Catholic Reformation. (This is sometimes called the Counter-Reformation.) It had three goals. The first was to reform the church itself. The second was to convert non-Christians into Catholics. The third goal was to stop the spread of Protestant beliefs.

What Did the Catholic Church Do First?
Popes Paul III and Paul IV tried to fix problems within the church itself. They appointed new church officials who were well educated. They also began to censor books. That is, they prevented people from reading certain books. Finally, they set up a special court—the Roman Inquisition. It looked into the religious beliefs of people. It could execute heretics.

What Did the Council of Trent Do?
In 1545, the church called for a council of church officials to meet at the Italian city of Trent. This council lasted 18 years. It wrote down the most important beliefs of the Catholic Church and stopped the sale of indulgences. It refused to accept the teachings of Luther and Calvin on salvation. The council said that people found salvation only through the Catholic Church.

The council also said that to be saved people had to go to church and do good deeds. They also had to accept the pope as the only leader of the Christian Church. Finally, Catholics had to agree with the church’s interpretation of the Bible. To counter Protestant translations of the Bible, the council ordered its own new translation.

Who Were the Jesuits?
Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain in 1491. He played a big part in the Counter-Reformation. Like Luther and Calvin, he asked questions about salvation. But his answers were different from theirs. Ignatius thought that self-discipline and good actions saved people.


  • Jesuit

  • A member of the Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus

Reading Strategy: Summarizing

What process is this lesson about?

Ignatius created a new Catholic religious order called the Society of Jesus. Members of this order are called Jesuits. They had to be smart, strong, and holy, because they wanted to help Catholics stay in the Catholic Church. They also wanted to help Protestants return to it. Over the next 200 years, Jesuit missionaries spread their faith to non-Christians in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

What Countries Stayed Catholic?
Europe now had two groups of Christian churches—Catholic and Protestant. Many people in northern Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, and Scotland became Protestants. Most of the people in Italy, France, Spain, and southern Germany stayed Catholic. Soon these different religious beliefs caused wars. Between 1550 and 1650, Europeans fought over their different religious beliefs.


Lesson 6 Review
On a sheet of paper, write the answer to each question. Use complete sentences.

  • 1. What did the Catholic Reformation try to do?

  • 2. What was the name of the court that Pope Paul III created to inquire into people’s beliefs?

  • 3. What council wrote down the most important beliefs of the Catholic Church?

  • 4. What religious group did Ignatius of Loyola start?

  • 5. What were the two jobs of Jesuits?

What do you think?

What kind of books do you think Pope Paul III censored during the Protestant Reformation?


Jacob Amman: late 17th century

Jacob Amman was a Swiss man who belonged to a Protestant group called Mennonites. However, he and others disagreed with some of the church’s practices. They thought the church rules were not strict enough. Amman led a group away from the church in the 1690s. They became known as the Amish. Following his directions, they shunned, or completely avoided, excommunicated members.

The Amish first came to America in the 1720s. Today they still live in farm communities. They teach separation from the world. Members must not go to war, swear oaths, or hold public office. Their personal life must be simple. They do not use electricity or telephones. They limit education to the eighth grade.

Document-Based Reading
John Calvin’s Strict Code of Conduct
John Calvin believed in a very strict moral code of conduct. He published his beliefs in the Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536. Later, this code was called puritanical. The English who settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 followed Calvin’s rules. They were called Puritans.

Whoever shall have blasphemed, swearing by the body or by the blood of our Lord, or in similar manner, he shall be made to kiss the earth for the first offense; for the second to pay five sous, and for third six sous, and for the last offense be put in the pillory for one hour.

If anyone sings immoral, dissolute, or outrageous songs, or dances the virollet or other dance, he shall be put in prison for three days and then sent to the consistory [church court].

That no one shall take upon interest or profit more than five percent upon penalty of confiscation of the principal and of being condemned to make restitution, as the case may demand.

That no one shall play at any game whatsoever it may be, neither for gold nor silver nor for any excessive stake, upon penalty of five sous and forfeiture of stake played for.

No one who wishes to be thought religious dares simply deny predestination, by which God adopts some to hope of life and sentences others to eternal death. When we attribute foreknowledge to God, we mean that all things always were, and perpetually remain, under his eyes, so that to his knowledge there is nothing future or past but all things are present. Therefore, as any man has been created to one or the other of these ends, we speak of him as predestined to life or to death.

He has appointed duties for every man in his particular way of life. And that no one may thoughtlessly transgress his limits, he has named these various kinds of living “callings.?? Therefore each individual has his own kind of living assigned to him by the Lord as a sort of sentry post, so that he may not heedlessly wander about throughout life.

Document-Based Questions

  • 1. What was the punishment for singing outrageous songs?

  • 2. How much profit should a person be allowed to earn?

  • 3. What is Calvin’s position on gambling?

  • 4. What does the term predestination mean?

  • 5. In your opinion, what parts of the moral code would help business people be successful?


Spotlight Story: The Harsh Life of the German Peasants
In 1524, German peasants revolted against the princes who ruled them. Peasants were protesting the poor conditions in which they lived. They expected Martin Luther to support their rebellion. Luther had challenged the authority of the Catholic Church. To them, their revolt against the nobles seemed similar to his.

As the revolt spread, however, Luther sided with the German princes. He feared the mob violence that it had caused. Luther condemned the revolt. He wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. Peasants should be obedient.?? Because of Luther’s actions, he lost peasant support.

The Peasants’ War, as the revolt is known, was a bloody event. More than 100,000 peasants were killed. Homes and farmlands were destroyed. People starved. Disease spread from one area to another. Children wandered the countryside. They had no parents or means to take care of themselves. Bands of soldiers attacked defenseless villages. Bandits roamed about, attacking the weak and helpless.

Before the revolt, some peasants worked in towns as paid laborers. Some were skilled craftsmen. Serfs, however, could not leave a noble’s land. By the 1500s, some peasants were free, but many still worked the nobles’ lands. Many were heavily in debt to the landowners.

During the Reformation, the life of a peasant was harsh. Peasants were not allowed to keep or sell all of the crops they raised. The church, for example, got 10 percent of their crops. This rule also applied to their farm animals. Twice a year, a percentage of their crops went to the lord of the manor. In addition, they had to work for him for two months a year. A landowner could use peasants any way he wished.
Food was often in short supply. Peasants sometimes risked hunting animals, or poaching, in the manor woods. This activity was strictly forbidden. Peasants caught poaching were severely punished.

Peasants could not even get married without permission from their lords. In addition, they had to pay a marriage tax.


  • 1. Why did German peasants revolt in 1524?

  • 2. What did Martin Luther say about this revolt?

  • 3. How did the Peasants’ War affect the common people in Germany?

  • 4. What are two examples of the harsh conditions in which German peasants lived?

  • 5. Do you agree or disagree with the position that Luther took on the revolt? Why?


Chapter 15 SUMMARY

  • Beginning in the 1300s, reformers challenged the authority of the Catholic Church. Wycliffe translated the Bible into English so ordinary people could read it. John Huss in Bohemia criticized the clergy.

  • Martin Luther, a German monk, questioned Church teachings about salvation. In 1517, he wrote 95 theses, or statements. His actions led to the Reformation.

  • The pope punished Luther with excommunication. The Holy Roman Emperor agreed that he could be killed. However, some German princes protected Luther.

  • Luther taught that people could be saved only by faith. He also translated the Bible into German.

  • Luther eventually started his own church. The Lutheran Church kept two Catholic rituals—baptism and communion. Unlike priests, Lutheran ministers could marry.

  • Some German princes agreed with Luther. They were called Protestants. In the 1530s, war broke out between Catholic and Protestant rulers. A peace treaty let each prince decide the religion in his lands.

  • King Henry VIII of England wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. The pope refused to allow a divorce, so Henry broke with the church and started a new church, the Anglican Church.

  • Henry VIII married several more wives. He had three children: Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward VI. During Edward’s reign, Anglican bishops wrote the Book of Common Prayer.

  • As queen, Mary tried to make England Catholic again. After her death in 1558, Elizabeth became queen. She compromised with some Catholic beliefs. But strict Protestants, called Puritans, wanted to rid the church of all Catholic rituals.

  • John Calvin wrote a book organizing Protestant beliefs. He taught that God had already chosen those who would be saved. Angry Catholics killed French Calvinists, or Huguenots, in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572.

  • The Catholic Church began the Catholic Reformation. The pope reformed the clergy. He began the Roman Inquisition. The Council of Trent restated Catholic beliefs.

  • Ignatius of Loyola began the Society of Jesus to strengthen the church.

  • The Reformation split Europe into Catholic and Protestant areas. Wars of religion went on between 1550 and 1650.


Chapter 15 REVIEW
On a sheet of paper, use the words from the Word Bank to complete each sentence correctly.

Word Bank

  • Calvin

  • Elizabeth I

  • Henry VIII

  • Huss

  • Ignatius of Loyola

  • Luther

  • Mary

  • Pope Leo X

  • Pope Paul III

  • Wycliffe

  • 1. The “Poor Preachers?? were the religious followers of _____.

  • 2. The Catholic Church burned _____ at the stake in 1415 for his religious beliefs.

  • 3. _____ ordered the Catholic Church to sell indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Church.

  • 4. _____ wrote 95 theses to show what he thought about the sale of indulgences.

  • 5. Pope Leo X called _____ the “Defender of the Faith.??

  • 6. _____ tried to make England a Catholic nation again.

  • 7. _____ of England tried to talk Catholics and Protestants into a compromise.

  • 8. _____ believed that God had already chosen the people who would be saved.

  • 9. _____ tried to reform the Catholic Church and called a special council to do this.

  • 10. _____ began the Jesuit order to help in the Catholic Reformation.

On a sheet of paper, write the letter of the answer that correctly completes each sentence.

  • 11. A(n) _____ is a person who teaches a belief that a religious authority thinks is false.

  • A elder

  • B salvation

  • C thesis

  • D heretic

  • 12. A(n) _____ is a member of the Society of Jesus.

  • A Jesuit

  • B Calvinist

  • C Anglican

  • D Lutheran


  • 13. _____ were French Calvinists.

  • A Jesuits

  • B Archbishops

  • C Huguenots

  • D Censors

  • 14. The _____ were Anglicans who wanted to purify their church.

  • A Jesuits

  • B Puritans

  • C Huguenots

  • D Calvinists

  • 15. The Catholic Church sold _____ that were supposed to take away punishment for sins.

  • A indulgences

  • B heretics

  • C salvation

  • D theses

On a sheet of paper, write the answer to each question. Use complete sentences.

  • 16. What was one cause of the Reformation?

  • 17. How did Calvin’s reforms differ from Luther’s and King Henry VIII’s?

  • 18. What was one thing the Catholic Church did during the Catholic Reformation?

Critical Thinking
On a sheet of paper, write your response to each question. Use complete sentences.

  • 19. What part do you think the printing press played in the Reformation?

  • 20. Luther, Calvin, and Ignatius of Loyola all asked questions about salvation. Which of their answers do you like best and why?

Test-Taking Tip: Look for multiple-choice answers that are opposites. Often, one of them is correct.


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