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Reformation in Europe

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Introduction

Examine and comment on the causes of the Reformation in Europe. Introduction Reformation was the change in religion, which came about in the 16th century. It was a major landmark in European history and had many consequences, which resounded throughout Europe for many years afterwards. It led to the religious division of Europe, to religious wars within Europe and "opened the door to widespread spiritual uncertainty."1 However, the belief that the Reformation took the form of "changes in religious belief, practices and organisation,"2 has been debated by historians for many years; and indeed some have concluded that the Reformation was in fact a social revolution, a revolution which not only reformed religion but also destroyed the social control which the Church had exercised for many years, and other historians claim that it was not only socially motivated but also politically and economically motivated. While examining the factors involved in the cause of Reformation, which took place in the 16th century in Europe it is necessary to point out that the demand for Reformation is deep rooted in events covering a period of two hundred years prior to the emergence of Martin Luther as a Reformation leader in 1520. For over a century Western Europe had called for reform in the Church in both "head and members"3 but had failed to achieve it. The main problem was that people could not agree on what they meant by reform. While there was a strong desire to limit the Pope's authority many needed the Pope's help to manage the Church in their lands. Owen Chadwick writes "the quest for reform limped along like a lame man who does not know where he is going."4 The state of society in Europe in the early 1300s was one which was very unstable, uneducated and was a society extremely reliant on religion and the authority of a Church which had for many years dictated and ruled the lives of a dependent people. ...read more.

Middle

The demand grew by feeding on itself."16 This cry for Reformation, "growing as a wind whips up the waves"17, is a very appropriate description of how Reformation became the main event in terms of religious matters in the 16th century and certainly the reasons for reform are both many and complex. What made the call for Reformation more powerful in the 16th century and more revolutionary than in the previous one hundred years? Were the abuses in the Church worse, had the rot set in throughout the body of the Church? In fact the abuses were the same, simony, nepotism, sale of indulgences, absenteeism, pluralism, all still prevalent, but what was new was the new awareness of the already existing faults in the Church and the possibility of a solution. The new learning and thinking of the Renaissance period prepared the way for the challenge heralded by Martin Luther in the 16th century, a man who meant only to make corrections in the flawed faith but who is considered as the man who began a revolution in the Christian Church. Erasmus and Christian Humanism The influence of humanists as a short-term cause of the Reformation cannot be ignored. The humanists were scholars who studied the writings of ancient Greece and Rome as well as the Bible. Their aim was to "discover the meaning that the author had initially intended rather than accepting interpretations that had been made in the Middle Ages based on incomplete texts and poor translations."18 Humanists were unwilling to accept established teachings and explanations; they demanded to be shown evidence. This approach was unwelcome in the Church where "the normal requirement was unquestioning obedience."19 During the period of Renaissance, Humanism had become more important, as this was the age of enlightenment, challenge and new thinking and the Church and its established authority was certainly a target for the more highly educated and scholarly climate of the 1500's. ...read more.

Conclusion

many varying causes and influences which I have outlined and explained throughout my examination of the topic and eventually ending with the person and conviction of Martin Luther who was in effect, the personification of Reformation in 16th century Europe. 1 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 2 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 3 Chadwick, The Reformation, P12, Pelican Books 4 Chadwick, The Reformation, P12, Pelican Books 5 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation, P17 6 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation, P17 7 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation, P17 8 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation, P17 9 Febvre, Martin Luther, A Destiny 10 Grimm, 2nd Edition 1500-1650, McMillan Publishing 11 Erasmus/Reardon, Religious Thought in the Reformation, London; New York: Longman 12 Rop 13 Ozment, The Origins of the Reformation 14 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 15 Grimm, 2nd Edition 1500-1650, McMillan Publishing 16 Chadwick, The Reformation 17 Chadwick, The Reformation 18 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 19 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 20 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 21 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 22 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 23 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 24 Erasmus/Chadwick, The Reformation 25 V.H.H Green, Renaissance and Reformation, Arnold 26 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 27 Chadwick, The Reformation 28 Reardon, Religious Thought in the Reformation, London; New York: Longman 29 Erasmus 30 Randell, Luther and the German reformation 31 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 32 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 33 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 34 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 35 Luther/Chadwick, The Reformation 36 Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 37 Tetzel/Randell, Luther and the German Reformation 38 Rendel l Luther and the German Reformation 39 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 40 Rendell Luther and the German Reformation 41 G.R Elton, Reformation Europe 1517-1559, New York: Harper & Row 42 Reardon, Religious Thought in the Reformation, London; New York: Longman 43 Chadwick, The Reformation 1 ...read more.

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