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The Reformation occurred during Renaissance times. It was a split in the Catholic Church where a new type of Christianity called Protestantism was born.
More People Reading the Bible
During the Middle Ages, few people other than monks and priests knew how to read and write. However, with the Renaissance, more and more people became educated and learned how to read. At the same time, the printing press was invented allowing for new ideas, as well as scriptures of the Bible, to be easily printed and distributed. People were able to read the Bible for themselves for the first time.
A monk named Martin Luther began to question the practices of the Catholic Church as he studied the Bible. He found many areas where he felt the Bible and the Catholic Church disagreed. On October 31, 1517 Luther took a list of 95 points where he thought the Church had gone wrong and nailed it to the door of a Catholic Church.
Martin Luther - Leader of the Reformation
Less Money for the Church
One of the practices that Luther disagreed with was the paying of indulgences. This practice allowed people to be forgiven of their sins when they paid the church money. After Luther nailed his list to the Church, the Catholics began to make less money. This made them mad. They kicked him out of the church and called him a heretic. This may not sound bad today, but in those times heretics were often put to death.
95 Theses - 95 points Luther wanted to make
Reform Spreads through Northern Europe
Many people agreed with Martin Luther that the Catholic Church had become corrupt. Much of northern Europe began to separate from the Catholic Church. Several new churches were formed such as the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church. Also new reform leaders such as John Calvin in Switzerland spoke out against the Catholic Church.
The Church of England
In a separate split from the Catholic Church, the Church of England split from the Roman Catholic Church. This was over a different issue. King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife because she did not produce a male heir for him, but the Catholic Church would not let him. He decided to split from the Roman Catholics and create his own church called the Church of England which would allow him to get a divorce.
Sadly, arguments over the Reformation finally led to a series of wars. Some rulers were converted to Protestantism while others still supported the Catholic Church. The Thirty Years War was fought in Germany, Martin Luther's home, and involved nearly every country in Europe. The war was devastating with estimates of between 25% and 40% of the German population being killed.
Take a ten question quiz at the Reformation questions page.
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