The Pros And Cons Of The Reformation

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The Reformation was a religious revolution in the 16th-century that resulted in a schism within Western Christianity between the Roman Catholic Church and the newly established Protestant churches. The likes of Martin Luther and John Calvin, among others, exercised significantly important roles in the Reformation’s development. The Reformation effectively separated the peoples of Western Europe into two opposing religious blocs, Protestants and Catholics. Traditionally, the Reformation has been considered to be a turning-point in history as Europe was plunged into centuries of conflict, disagreement, and violence. Two distinct national traditions offer an analysis of the vast consequences that the Reformation had upon Western Europe; that is,…show more content…
Intense criticism of the Catholic Church, and in particular of the Pope, resulted in a swell of reformist thought. The religious aspects of the Reformation were accompanied by ambitious political leaders who sought to manipulate the Reformation as a means through which to expand their power and influence. Arguably, the Reformation was initiated by Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, in the year 1517. These theses were highly controversial in their nature due to the questioning of Roman Catholic doctrine as well as a number of practices that had been followed by the church for centuries. As such, the Martin Luther, the once humble Augustinian monk from Germany, became a key historical figure of the Reformation. The reform movement swiftly gained adherents in a number of German states, in addition to various northern European countries, such as England and Scotland. The movement had managed to attract both genuine individuals who sought to reform Roman Catholic orthodoxy as well as political leaders who sought to enlarge their power through the subversion against the church. In addition to Luther, many historians in the early twentieth century have focussed their work on John Calvin and his role in the early Reformation period. Calvin was a Frenchman who later settled in Geneva. Many historians have studied his work…show more content…
Specifically, this refers to the changing manner in which historians have interpreted the Reformation. The focus of many Reformation historians was traditionally centred on the analysis of the great individual leaders and theologians, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. Even more so, in the early twentieth century, Whig history still held an influential role among Reformation historians. This view stipulated that the Reformation occurred as a single, inevitable event along the line of progression to ever greater human liberty and enlightenment. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that the Reformation was not a single historical event; it was a lengthy and complex process that occurred over an extended period of time. As such, it has been perceived to consist of several lesser changes that contributed to one overarching movement. The focus for many historians concentrated on the political machinations that underlined the development of the Reformation. This type of Reformation historiography was typically advanced by political historians and biographers. All perceived the English Reformation as being a clear consequence of an ‘imposition from above’ by the Catholic Church. The most respected historian in this particular school of thought was Geoffrey Elton, who perceived the Reformation as being one aspect of the broad political reforms that had been
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