The Reformation13 minutes read


Brothers of the Common Life- is a religious community formerly existing in the Catholic Church that was founded in the Netherlands in the 14th century by Gerard Groote. Luther studied under the Brothers of the Common Life at Magdeburg.

Vernacular- vernacular is the language or dialect that is spoken in a region. Benefices- are properties which one entity owns but another uses for benefit.

Sale of indulgences- the sale indulgences were given by a priest to a fellow christian for the forgiving of their sins. Luther posted his ninety-five theses in protest of indulgences. Indulgences made the release from purgatory something that could be bought or sold.

John Tetzel (1465-1519)- was a German Catholic priest who is known for starting the sale of Indulgences. Tetzel was also the Grand Commissioner for indulgences in Germany.

Martin Luther- Martin Luther was a German Catholic priest and one of the most important figures of the German Reformation.

“Justification by faith alone”- or Sola Fide was a Catholic teaching that if one believes in god he will go to heaven. Luther did not believe in this statement and taught that good deeds must be done over a lifetime and then one will go to heaven, instead of saying “I believe” and then doing as one wishes.

Charles V – HRE- was first ruler of Spain as Charles I, but then was elected by the seven imperial electors of the Holy Roman Empire. Charles I then took on the name of Charles V when he became the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in 1519.

Pope Leo X- was the the pope of the Catholic Church from 1513 to 1521. Pope Leo X was the successor to pope Julius II. Pope Leo X is best remembered for granting indulgences for those who helped donate for the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Diet of Worms- was held from January to May of 1521. The main events of the Diet of Worms pertaining to Martin Luther and the charges of heresy against him took place from April 16th to 18th, 1521. Martin Luther was asked to recant his ninety-five theses which denounced the Catholic Church for the sale of indulgences and other actions that Luther did not believe in.

Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation- is a book written by Martin Luther which stated that the sale of indulgences would not end until religious leaders could find another way to profit from religion.

Habsburg – Valois Wars- were a series of regional wars by European rulers to try to gain control of the small independent states of Italy.

The Peasants’ Revolts – 1524-25- were when the peasant followers of Luther revolted against their landlords in 1524-1535 in Luther’s name. Luther deemed the peasants “un-christian” and urged the princes to to crush the revolt. Thousands of peasants between 70,000 and 100,000 died during the revolt.

Ulrich Zwingli- Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was a Swiss Protestant leader during the Reformation. Zwingli credited Erasmus instead of Luther for setting him in the direction for reform. Zwingli, like Luther, was also against the Church sale of indulgences. Zwingli is known for bringing the Reformation to Switzerland, which in turn united the region as a whole.

The Marburg Colloquy 1529- was when Philip of Hesse brought Luther and Zwingli, the two main figures of the Reformation, to his castle in Marburg in 1529 to work out the differences in their believes. The Marburg Colloquy separated the theology of the Protestant Reformation. The Colloquy dampened the Protestant Reformation because it separated the ideas of the Reformation.

Anabaptists in Munster- Anabaptists were protestants who thought that adult baptism only conformed with the Bible. The Anabaptist in Munster during 1534 forced all other religeons to either convert to Anabaptism or emigrate. Then Munster was transformed into an Old Testament theocracy, that allowed polygamy. This shocked Europe and the Protestants and Catholics unified to crush the radical Anabaptists.

Anti-Trinitarians- a group of radical Protestants that were in opposition to Calvinism and believed in predestination.

John Calvin- John Calvin was an influential figure during the Reformation. He was the creator of Calvinism. Calvinism replaced Lutheranism as the main Protestant religious ideology. Calvinists believed strongly to predestination.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904) Max Weber- is a book written about economic sociology and is considered a founding text in economic sociology. The book was written by Max Weber in German but then was later translated into English in 1930.

Denmark, Sweden, Poland- the population of Denmark, Sweden, and Poland were primarily Lutheran Protestants during the Reformation.

Peace of Augsburg – 1555- the Peace of Augsburg was a treaty between Charles V and the Princes of the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. It ended the religious struggle between in the Holy Roman Empire, and decided that the ruler of the land can decide the Religion in the region.

Cuius regio, eius religio- means “whose realm, his religion” in latin. This was agreement that Charles V and the princes of the Holy Roman Empire that ended the religious struggle between the Catholics and the Protestants in the Holy Roman Empire.

Henry VIII and the Act of Supremacy 1534 Protestant or Catholic king?- the Act of Supremacy was a declaration by the Parliament in 1534 in England that made Henry VIII the head of the Church of England, not the pope. This was a step away from the Catholic Church in Rome. The money from the Church in England stayed in England instead of being sent off to Rome. This was a political move by Henry VIII as much as it was a religious one. After the Act of Supremacy, in 1536-1538 Parliament dissolved the monasteries. The Act of Supremacy was a step away from the Catholic Church and made Henry VIII more of a Protestant king.

Sir Thomas More & Utopia- Sir Thomas More’s Utopia was a satire on contemporary society of the 16th century. Utopia depicted an imaginary society based on reason and tolerance without political and social injustice.

Thomas Cranmer / The Book of Common Prayer- The Book of Common Prayer was a book written by Thomas Cranmer in 1549. The book was a series of Prayers for the English Anglican Church that were written in English instead of Latin.

“Reformation Parliament” – 1529- In 1529, the English Parliament came together for a seven year period known as “Reformation Parliament”. During this time Parliament passed legislation that harassed the clergy. This was a step towards the passing of the Act of Supremacy which made Henry VIII the leader of the Church in England.

Edward VI- Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. He was the successor to the throne after Henry VIII at ten years, under protectorships of Somerset and Northumberland.

Catholic Reformation- also referred to sometimes as the Counter Reformation was led by conservative forces whose goal was to reform the church and to secure the Catholic theology against the theology of the Protestant Reformation. The Counter Reformation stopped the sales of indulgences and in forced celibacy within the clergy.

Council of Trent 1554 – 1563- the Council of Trent made the Catholic Church stricter in its practices. It strengthened the power of the local bishops so they could enforce the religion in their regions. The Council of Trent ended the sales of indulgences and made the priests and bishops become more educated, and practice stricter rules of celibacy. The Council of Trent met in the Italian city of Trent to decide how to react to the rise of Protestantism.

Ignatius of Loyola Spiritual Exercises- the Spiritual Exercises are a series of Christian prayers, written by Ignatius of Loyola one of the founders of the Society of Jesus.


1. What was the social and religious background of the Reformation?

Before the Reformation in Europe, the Catholic Church was a corrupt entity. The Church did not follow what is was teaching to the people. Throughout the Middle Ages the Catholic Church was the center of Europe and had significant political and religious power. During the Middle Ages the Catholic Church was undermined during events like the Avignon Papacy, which was a time of confusion because there was more than one pope in office at the time. The Renaissance had an effect on the Reformation because it stirred up ideas that were not always aligned with the church. The invention of the printing press was a monumental event for the Reformation because it allowed the circulation of printed works and ideas of the Reformation be spread throughout Europe. Pamphlets became increasingly available to the population because of the printing press. Because of the printing press, literacy rates increased in Europe and people became more educated. Greater education among the population led to the questioning of the Catholic Church’s policies and rules. The bible was increasingly being printed the the vernacular which let the common people decide and interpret what the holy text meant instead of having it interpreted by the Catholic Church.

2. Why did Martin Luther challenge the Church? Was he a revolutionary?

Martin Luther challenged the Church because he thought it was corrupt. In Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses he denounces the Catholic Church’s practice of selling indulgences. Martin Luther never wanted to split away from the Catholic Church he just wanted to reform it. The Church practice of selling indulgences did not appeal to Luther. Luther saw that the money from the selling of indulgences went to funding the Catholic Church. The corruption in the Church was the reason why the Protestant Reformation began. The ideas of Luther caught on like wildfire middle Europe. Luther was a revolutionary because he created a separate denomination that was different from the views of the Catholic Church. Luther is the most well known figures during the Reformation. He was the leading figure that started the Protestant Reformation. He started the push for reform in the Church and began the official era of the Reformation.

3. Was the “new” religion established by Henry VIII truly protestant? What problems did his successors face as a result of Henry VIII’s move?

The Anglican religion established by Henry VIII was not purely Protestant. Henry VIII created Anglicanism as a way to separate from the Catholic Church for political reasons. Henry VIII was a devout Catholic but at the time in the early 16th century he was in desperate need of a male heir to the throne to secure the rein of the Tudor dynasty. To do so he need to divorce his current wife at the time, Catherine of Aragon. The Catholic Church would not let him do this so he had the marriage annulled which let him divorce Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Henry VIII then passed the Act of Supremacy, which declared Henry VIII the ruler of the Church in England. This allowed him to gain the power of the Church in England. Although Henry VIII’s move to become the ruler of the Church in England may have been a step away from the Catholic Church in Rome, Anglicanism was still very closely related to Catholicism, except that Henry VIII was the head of the church in England instead of the pope. This proved to be difficult for Henry VIII’s successors because they did not know wether to align with the Catholic Church or to stay Anglican or become Protestant. In 1553, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, restores the Catholic Doctrine restoring Catholicism in England and began a series of gruesome public executions of members of non- catholic faith, which earned her the name “Bloody Mary”. Then after Queen Mary I’s death in 1558, she was succeeded by her half sister, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Queen Elizabeth I reverted back to Anglicanism severing ties once again with the Catholic Church.

4. Identify the different factions of Protestants and the extent to which the Reformation was uniform. What were the similarities and differences between the Lutherans, Zwinglians, and the Calvinists?

There were several denominations of Protestants in Europe during the Reformation. There were the Lutherans, who followed the teachings of Martin Luther, the Anglicans in England, Anabaptists, and Calvinists, who followed the teachings of John Calvin. All of these denominations of Protestants wanted change from the Catholic Church. The Reformation was uniform in the fact that all the Protestants wanted to end corruption in the Church. The most significant difference between the denominations of the Protestants was how radical they were in their beliefs. The Anabaptists believed in adult baptism and thought the Lutherans were not radical enough from the Catholic Church. Lutherans and Zwinglians taught that people must believe in god themselves. The main difference between Zwinglians and Lutherans was the theological differences, especially over the nature of Christ’s presence in the Eurcharist. Lutherans and Zwinglians both practiced infant baptism. Calvinism replaced Lutheranism as the main Protestant force in Europe during the latter half of the 16th century. Calvinists believed in both divine predestination and to follow god’s plan. The main difference between Lutherism and Zwinglism to Calvinism was that Lutherans and Zwinglians both believed that man has control over some aspects of his life whereas Calvinism believed that man has a predestination given by god.

5. Evaluate the impact of the Reformation of European society between the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Reformation in Europe had a great impact on society. The Reformation improved education within Europe. Many Protestant reformers in Germany, France, and England were humanists. The humanists of the Reformation believed strongly in the teaching of language and the arts. The humanistic ideas of the Renaissance were carried on into the Reformation. When people in Europe became more intelligent and could read they began to think for themselves and were able to analyze religious texts. Luther said, “Every man is his own priest”. This was one of the fundamental changes that was brought to society during the Reformation, that any man can interpret the bible for themselves without a priest, bishop, or pope to do it for them. The Reformation separated all of the population by religion. Europe was once mostly Catholic but because of the Reformation Christianity became splintered into many different denominations. Much of the power the Catholic Church once had was lost after events like the Act of Supremacy, Peace of Augsburg, and the splitting of Catholicism into several denominations. The Reformation had a significant impact on the society of Europe during the 16th century.

6. Assess the changing role of women and the family as a result of the Reformation.

The Reformation helped change the role of women and the family. The Reformation helped change the old ideas of degrading women in the Middle Ages. The reformers of the Reformation viewed their wives as companions instead of child bearers. Luther wrote: “Imagine what it would be like without women. The home, cities, economic life, and government would virtually disappear. Men cannot do without women Even if it were possible for men to beget and bear children, the still could not do without women.” (p. 161) Ideas like these encouraged the education of women. The literacy rate among women rose because of the Reformation. When women could read, they saw that they were equal to men by reading passages from the bible. The Reformation changed how society viewed women. Protestants stressed the value of family and marriage. The Reformation changed the way society viewed women and in the future.


Lundeen, Joel W. “Table Talk.” Luther’s Works. Philadelphia (Pa.): Fortress, 1967. N. pag. Print. Kagan, Donald, Steven E. Ozment, and Frank M. Turner. The Western Heritage: Since 1300.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Ramírez, Susan E., Peter N. Stearns, Samuel S. Wineburg, and Steven A. Goldberg.Holt World History: Human Legacy. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008. Print.

3 thoughts on “The Reformation13 minutes read


    In Switzerland, the teachings of the reformers and especially those of Zwingli and Calvin had a profound effect, despite the frequent quarrels between the different branches of the Reformation.


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