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The Reformation was a movement that in the 16th century that was a cultural, intellectual and political upheaval that changed Catholic Europe and caused the establishment of protestant churches. Reformers like Henry VII, John Calvin and Martin Luther all questioned the pope’s authority and the Catholic Church’s way of defining Christian practice. They argued for a division in religious and political policies and a redistribution of power. Although these were all noble ideas and most of the Reformers just wanted a renewal of the church as it was, the result was persecutions and a war which the Catholic Church called the Counter Reformation. Europe would never be the same after the Reformation.

Reason for the Reformation

Over the centuries, the Roman Catholic church had become more and more involved in the politics of western Europe and by the 16th century, it had immense power. This resulted in political manipulations, increasing wealth and corruption. Clergy would sell spiritual privileges and use the pulpit to preach their own views. As the Bible was in Latin, regular people had no idea of what it actually said, which greatly upset Reformers like Martin Luther, who felt that the church has gone bankrupt spiritually.

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Start and End of the Reformation

Historians tie the start of the Reformation to Martin Luther’s publication of his 95 Theses in 1517. After decades of prosecution and war, the Reformation finally ended around 1555 in different countries with events such as the Peace of Augsburg, when both Lutheranism and Catholicism were allowed in Germany and the end of the Thirty Years’ War with the 1648 treaty of Westphalia. 

Cite This Article
"What Was the Reformation?" History on the Net
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February 26, 2020 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/what-was-the-reformation>
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