On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church listing church practices he wished to debate with his colleagues – the Catholic Church would never be the same again. 


The Man. Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

    1. Son of a peasant/mine owner from Mansfield
    2. Attended cathedral choir school run by Brethren of Common Life in Magdeburg
    3. Studied law at Erfurt University
    4. Entered monastery of Augustinian friars
    5. Ordained as a priest
    6. Became lecturer in philosophy at University of Wittenberg in 1509
    7. Earned PhD in theology in 1512
  1. The Place. Wittenberg
    1. In Saxony, one of the states of the Holy Roman Empire
    2. Elector was Prince Frederick the Wise, founder of University of Wittenberg
    3. HRE chosen by 7 electors: archbishops of Cologne, Trier, Mainz and princes of Saxony, Brandenburg, Palatinate, Bohemia
    4. Hapsburg emperors hoped to create international empire
  2. The Times.  Early Sixteenth Century
    1. Crises of LMA had led to disillusionment with feudal and clerical institutions
    2. Renaissance humanism encouraged scholars to search writings of the past for solutions to current problems
    3. Northern Europe influenced by:

                                                               i.      Lay piety movements (devotion moderna) and schools (Brethren of Common Life)

                                                             ii.      Christian humanism (philosophia Christi)

    1. Printing press c. 1450 allowed for rapid dissemination of ideas
  1. Right Man, Right Place, Right Time
    1. Luther’s Biblical studies led him to Romans 1:17 – “the just shall live by faith” – justification came by faith, not through works
    2. Abuse of indulgences by John Tetzel who had been commissioned by Archbishop of Mainz (Albrecht) to sell papal indulgences in HRE
    3. Theses translated from Latin to German and printed
    4. Nationalism led to resentment against Pope and HRE
    5. Christian humanism inspired demand for more simple and meaningful religion
    6. Political crisis in HRE gave Luther time to spread his ideas and win supporters
  2. Peace of Augsburg (1555) -- “cuius regio, eius religio”
  3. The Spread and Consequences of the Protestant Reformation
    1. England    Political factors predominated in determining outcome

                                                               i.      Henry VIII (r. 1509 – 1547) wanted to annul marriage to Katherine of Aragon

                                                             ii.      HRE Charles V sacked Rome in 1527 and took Pope Clement prisoner

                                                            iii.      When negotiations with Pope failed, Henry VIII broke with Rome and made himself head of Church of England: Roman Catholicism    a English Catholicism (Anglicanism)

    1. Northern Europe

                                                               i.      John Calvin (1509 – 1563) created the most successful international form of Protestantism (Calvinism); Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) emphasized the logic of Protestant reforms and rejected aspects of Catholicism which appealed to the senses

                                                             ii.      Differences in emphasis between Luther and Calvin

1.      Predestination – Calvin thought grace of God offered to relatively few (The Elect)

2.      Attitude toward state – Calvin thought The Elect should Christianize state and remake society as a whole into Holy Commonwealth

a.       Geneva becomes Holy Commonwealth, ministers and presbyters rule church and town

b.      Geneva becomes international center of Reformed Doctrine

                                                                                                                                       i.      Holland – Calvinists

                                                                                                                                     ii.      France – Huguenots

                                                                                                                                    iii.      Scotland – Presbyterians

                                                                                                                                   iv.      England – Puritans

                                                            iii.      Anabaptists or rebaptizers were another reformed group which arose in Northern Europe among common folk in Zurich c. 1525

1.      Rejected infant baptism

2.      Advocated Church of Saints and Martyrs

a.       Withdrew from world

b.      Strict morality

c.       Separation of church and state

3.      1534 Muenster experiment led to their persecution

  1. Catholic Revival or Counterreformation?                                       
  2. Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) resulted in restatement of Catholic doctrine and reform of church practice   
    1. Pope remained head of international Catholicism (no council action valid without Pope’s approval)
    2. No compromise with Protestantism on creeds

                                                               i.      Rejected justification by faith

                                                             ii.      Maintained priesthood as special estate

                                                            iii.      Kept Church as interpreter of Bible (Vulgate)

                                                           iv.      Retained 7 sacraments

    1. Abuses in church practice corrected

                                                               i.      Bishops required to reside in diocese

                                                             ii.      Clergy more closely supervised

                                                            iii.      Seminaries established

                                                           iv.      Monastic orders reformed

    1. Enforced by:

                                                               i.      Papal Index                                                                                                    List of works dangerous for Catholics to read

                                                             ii.      Society of Jesus

1.      Founded by Ignatius Loyola (1491 – 1556) who received permission from Pope Paul III in 1540 to form select religious order

2.      Spiritual Exercises emphasized absolute obedience to Church in matters of faith

3.      Established schools to teach young true faith

                                                            iii.      Inquisition

1.      Revived by Spanish government in 1477 to “protect” Spanish Christians against Jews and Moors (1492 fall of Granada; ordinance that Jews must convert or leave country)

2.      Weapon against ideas, individuals, practices which threatened value system of nobility