• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why was Luther able to challenge the Catholic Church so successfully in the years 1517-1525?

Extracts from this document...


10.11.12 Why was Luther able to challenge the Catholic Church so successfully in the years 1517-1525? Various reasons contributed to Martin Luther?s success in challenging the Catholic Church from the years 1517-25. The five key reasons behind Luther?s success were his protection by Frederick the Wise, the fact his ideas were appealing and popular, his passion and determination, the failures of the Church itself and finally, the timing of his challenge. Some of these factors also affected each other and these links provide the strength which allowed Luther?s revolt to be so successful. This is because one of these factors alone would not have been sufficient in preventing Luther gaining the same fate as those who attempted a reformation before him. Conversely, some reasons can also be considered as having a larger and more widespread effect than others, meaning they were more significant in contributing to the final outcome. Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony and founder of the University of Wittenberg was the most powerful early defender of Luther. He played a large role in helping Luther keep his message spreading and on several occasions used his authority to benefit Luther?s revolt. ...read more.


Many also committed clerical abuses such as pluralism and simony. As a result, people generally had the growing feeling they were being exploited for their money and faith. This feeling over anticlericalism was further developed from Luther?s ideas. It is also a reason for the fact Luther?s ideas were popular, because they could be related too and agreed with. Failures of the Church were not a directly significant reason for Luther?s success, it allowed him to gain more support but only because his ideas were popular. Anticlericalism had been around for a long time, and only enhanced the popularity of his message as it coincided with a time when intolerance towards church failures was increasing. Another reason for Luther?s ideas proving popular was due to his personality and passion for making a change. This passion is seen through his obsession with finding salvation. In addition, he was fearless in putting his point across regardless of consequences such as in 1519 in his debate with Johann Eck where he argued his ideas confidently and 1521 at the Diet of Worms, where he claimed that by recanting, he would be promoting tyranny and his conscience would not allow him to do so, therefore he would not be silenced. ...read more.


But this alone would not have made him so successful. His personality played a role by making him determined to speak up about it and therefore gain more support, making his ideas even more popular. Without these two factors working together, he never would have gained strong enough support to form a fully fledged reformation. However, more importantly than his personality was the protection he acquired from Frederick the Wise; this kept him from Harm?s way and allowed his message to carry on spreading. Additionally, to this was the significance of the timing of his actions. It turned what would have been a small rebellion into a national reorganization of the Church, due to the printing press and Renaissance era. Finally, but with less slightly less importance, was the Church?s own failures. On one hand it was important to his success because it emphasised the corruption he was describing, making it more relatable. On the other hand, anticlericalism had been around for a long time, it only emphasised his message but did not contribute to its successfulness. In summary, all five factors played an important role however the most important were that his ideas proved popular , due to his personality, and his protection by Frederick the Wise. The other elements played lesser roles but were still important in helping his message spread to a wider audience. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Historical Periods section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Historical Periods essays

  1. Asses the contribution of the Jesuits to the Catholic revival in the Sixteenth Century

    The Jesuits had long held an ideal of a worldwide mission which was unconnected to the Council of Trent. More than any order or institution, atmosphere and environment, working effectively to preserve and expand Catholicism. In the 1540, Francis Xavier, a Catholic Jesuit missionary, travelled to India on a Portuguese

  2. Research Paper; The Important Scientific Discoveries of the Renaissance: Medicine

    He pointed out that, "If a living animal that has been cut into and eviscerated while it is still alive is touched, then the innate complexion of each part will not be apparent to you, since the actual heat of all the organs together will be apparent, therefore you won't

  1. How important was the role of the princes in bringing about the success of ...

    Although Luther would not compromise on his Eucharist theory, it did strengthen the connections outside Germany and would prove to be helpful in success of Lutheranism. Hesse's help with his negotiations and influence brought the Lutheran success to a reasonable point so that it was able to spread and reach more people.

  2. How important were the ideas of the Humanists in weakening the authority of the ...

    The next was, "Enchiridion" which was a 'Handbook of the Christian Knight' and acted as a guide to good living and was aimed at the educated laity of christendom. It also contained powerful attacks on the role of ritual and ceremony in the Catholic church and other superstitious practices.

  1. "The most important factor in Martin Luther's survival was Frederick the Wise" discuss

    as ?To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation?, ?On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church', and ?On the Freedom of a Christian?. This allowed Luther to stir up support for himself and his ideologies. It meant that as long as Luther remained in Wittenberg he was safe.

  2. The Roman Catholic Church was becoming increasingly unpopular in the Holy Roman Empire before ...

    This fear of death, and what lies beyond death, persuaded the public to turn to God. God was a beacon of light to those who were constantly threatened by a mysterious pandemic. People confessed their sins as if by confessing alone, they would become immune to the disease.

  1. To what extent could the Crusades be described as failure within the years 1095-1195?

    The French, too, had problems on their way. At 1148 not far from Laodicea, Muslims attacked the army. The help from Byzantine army was totally insufficient - apparently, the Emperor Manuel in his heart wanted to defeat the Crusaders. This would play a role in a future defeat of Crusaders.

  2. Notes on Cleopatra and her links with Rome

    Ptolemy VI Philometor fled to Rome when challenged by his younger brother, Euergetes. Rome awarded him Egypt and Cyprus, while the younger brother was given Cryneaica. Alexandria appealed successfully to Rome during the invasion by Antiochus of Syria. Now Rome had entered Egyptian affairs irrevocably.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work