early sixteenth century Protestant Reformation

In the early sixteenth century, Western Europe’s religious face was dominated by the Roman Catholic faith. The Catholic Church was the sole athority power of day to day values, and before long, conflicting social and political issues began to shake the foundation of the corrupt Catholic Church. Moreover, Western Catholics began to realize the corrupt nature of the Church; as the selling of indulgences was challenged by Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, the hierarchal nature of the Church was displayed via blatant acts of simony, and the concept was purgatory was outwardly questioned. Ultimately, as westerners caught wind of the aforementioned doings, an attempt to reform the Catholic Church began brewing: the Protestant Reformation. This Reformation ultimately led to several significant social and political consequences.

On one note, the Reformation led to the once-all Catholic western Europeans being separated into several demographics: Catholic Christianty, Protestant Christianty, and Orthodox. As a result, the belief of the founder Jesus Christ was magnified, as well as the belief of the Bible as a doctrine of salvation (in the Protestant faith). Consequently, the popularity of the Bible led to it being printed in vernacular rather than Latin, and thus the Bible began to appeal to a larger audience rather than solely the wealthy and educated.

This accessiblity to the lower class revealed the teachings of faith to a previously uninformed demographic. Also, Protestantism had created a new, highly individual spirituality. Survival and salvation depended upon inner faith and self-disclipline, thus a larger emphasis was made on personal commitments and values. As the teachings of the Bible were made more widely availible, the aforementioned notions became more widely available. With this newfound knowledge, and with the economic power of the church now lessened, there came a growth of induvidual liberty.

These newfound attitudes and economic turn-around consequently reflected principes of, and led to, capitalism. On another hand, another consequence of the Reformation was many dispays of intolerance. More specifically, King Phillip II of Spain and Bloody Maryof England actively persecuted Protestants. Also, with the Reformation leaving the Church’s power teetering, several Rulers were empowered against the Church. Henry VII, for example, nullified the Pope’s powers, and in turn the Rulers of Europe had the power to rule their countries however they wished, from square one.

This, ultimately, gave rise to the notion of nationalism, which gave rise to the growth of the modern state. Conclusively, the effects of the Protestant Reformation were very much significant. Starting in the hands of Martin Luther, the reform not only tore apart the religious unity of Europe at the time, but also contributed to induvidual attitudes and values, the growth of nationalism and the modern state, but also shined a light on the path to a capitalistic society.