Protestant Reformation The Protestant Reformation took place in Germany in the 16th century. During this time, Roman Catholic Church had a lot of power, and a priest called Martin Luther noticed their abuse of power. He decided to show people how the church was abusing of its power. He started by criticizing the sale of indulgences, and how priests, cardinals and even the Pope did not follow the teachings of the Bible. To criticize the Church, Luther wrote the 95 Theses and translated the Bible into German.
This way, people could see how the Roman Catholic Church was not following the teachings of God. This caused a great controversy in Europe. He was accused of heretic and excommunicated from the Catholic Church. But some Germans, mostly peasants but also a few nobles, liked his teachings and agreed with him. The Holy Roman Emperor told German princes to kill Luther, but instead, they decided to convert to Protestantism and follow Luther. The Emperor Charles V and the princes finally agreed that every German state was able to choose their own religion.
This series of events are called the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation had political and social impacts in Europe by promoting the idea of religious freedom, increasing the power of monarchs, and spreading of the idea of equality. One of the effects of the Protestant Reformation was the promotion of religious freedom. After this Reformation, each German State could choose which religion to practice. This treaty was concreted in the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. It was signed by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and the German princes. “15.
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In order to bring peace to the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation […] let them (each German State) enjoy their religious belief, liturgy and ceremonies. ” (Document 6) This document shows the part of the contract where the Holy Roman Emperor and German princes agreed in having a religious freedom in each State. This made Europe had more than just a religion. During this time, there was not a Religious unity between German States within themselves and neither with the rest of Europe. Other very important effect of the Protestant Reformation was the increase of power of the monarchs.
During the 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church had a lot of power. Not many monarchs were happy with their excess of power. With the Protestant Reformation, some monarchs saw the perfect opportunity to stop sharing power with the Roman Catholic Church. One example is King Henry VIII of England. “[…] the king’s Majesty […] is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England. ” (Document 5) This is an excerpt taken from The Act of Supremacy, a Parliamentary Act from 1534. King Henry VIII decided to break apart from the Roman Catholic Church, and this way, have absolute power in England.
Being the politic and religious leader allowed him to spend less money and at the same time gain more. All the income from the Church was now his, and he did not have to pay this entity any taxes. Henry did not have to share the power with anyone else; he was now an absolute ruler. Another impact the protestant Reformation had in Europe was the spread of the idea of equality. Catholicism already had this idea of all people being the same, but clearly they were not putting it into practice. Not even the Pope, who should have been a role model, was being humble and he even felt superior to the rest.
In Luther’s 95 Theses he says, “86. Why does not the Pope […] build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers? ” (Document 2) This thesis says that the Pope should not be greedy and take money from the poor. He should instead give his money to the poor. Luther says that the Pope is not superior from the rest of the believers and should contribute economically to the Church, just as the rest of the people did. Another of his theses says, “37. Every True Christian […] has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church […]. (Document 2) In this specific thesis, Luther is criticizing the sale of indulgences. He says that there? s no need to buy indulgences because every Christian, rich or poor, is the same to the eyes of God. One should do good actions, rather than buying indulgences, to go to heaven, and these actions should be done by the common people, the priests and even the Pope. The Protestant Reformation clearly had religious impacts on Europe, but it also had social and political effects. Even though Luther criticized the Roman Catholic Church, his ideas were used by political figures to be able to get rid of the oppression of the Church.
The promotion of the religious freedom is both a political and a social impact. The division from the Church and the German States is political, while the ability to choose which religion to practice is social. The increase of the power of the monarchs is a political impact. The fact that Henry VIII was the religious and political leader in England meant he had absolute power. The spread of the idea of equality is social because it means to say common people are the same as the Pope. These social and political changes later lead to many things that are used nowadays.
The idea of religious freedom is an idea that remains nowadays. Today, every person has the right to choose its religion, not like before which was every State. The idea of equality between all people was an idea that was used in the French Revolution and of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizens. The increase in the power of the monarchs led to the later Age of Absolutism. These three ideas shaped the world into what it is today. They helped make the world be what it is today.
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