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The Reformation: Reasons for Break with Roman Catholic Church and Major Players

Reasons for the Break with the Roman Catholic church

The Reformation

Reformation-refers to a time period in Europe 1517-1600 when a group of reformers(most prominently Martin Luther) disagreed with some of the actions of the Roman Catholic church and ultimately protested and broke away from the Church as “Protestants”. By 1600 Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the northern half of “Germany” were all-religiously speaking Protestants.

1. Reasons for the Break with the Roman Catholic church
a. Corruption within the church
b. Wordiness(greed) of some of the popes and bishops
c. Selling of church jobs(simony)
d. Nepotism(giving relatives an friends church jobs)
e. Overzealous selling of indulgences
f. Royal resentment of papal authority
g. Royal resentment of all the Sunday collection money going to the pope
h. Royal resentment of the vast tax free church lands
i. Papal reluctance to reform or listen to criticisms
k. Many people resented that th popes were almost always Italian!
l. Some Protestant sects have very close relationship with their national governments

HQ of the Roman Catholic Church-St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome Italy

2. Martin Luther

a. Was a priest and a catholic scholar and teacher
b. He wrote a list of “debating points”(95 Theses) of his criticisms of the Church 
c. He was criticized but a German prince gave him refuge
d. Luther’s views took root in many German states(His ideas became Lutheranism)
e. Soon other reformers spoke up like John Calvin and John Knox

3. Major differences between Catholics and Protestants
a. Key difference is papal authority -Protestants reject it
b. Virgin Mary status is not as “elevated” among Protestants
c. Sacraments of baptism and Eucharist are the only sacraments for most Protestants
d. Communion for Protestants is symbolic body of Christ not the actual
e. Protestant put a greater emphasis on the Bible-and only the Bible
f. Catholics believe in many Saints and special “feast days”
g. No Christian disputes that Jesus is the son of God and came to the world to save mankind from his sins, and Jesus was born, died and resurrected.
h. All Christians look forward to salvation (Heaven) and fear damnation(Hell)

4. Reformation in the HRE, France, England and Scotland:
a. Most of France and its royal family(Valois) remained roman Catholic but a small minority if French Protestants(Huguenots) were persecuted for decades)
b. In England King Henry VIII pulled his kingdom out of the Catholic Church in a rage when the pope would not grant him a divorce or annulment> Henry VIII:
c. Later his daughter Mary-as Mary I tried to restore Catholicism.
d. Later still his youngest daughter Elizabeth reaffirmed England was Protestant
e. Scotland went over to the Protestant faith


5. The Counterreformation
a-Under Pope Paul III began to make some reforms 
b-A church council was held at Trent to remove the worst of the abuses
c-a group of Priests(Jesuits) worked across Europe trying to reconvert Protestants
d-some areas reconverted but Europe even today is “religiously divided”

Major Players in the Renaissance and Reformation(optional activity)

Renaissance Major players:


Who they were?

Their Renaissance contribution




Taddeo Gaddi





The Sforza’s

Pope Julius II


Leonardo Da Vinci

Hans Holbein

Sir Thomas More




Reformation Major Players


Who they were?

Their role in the Reformation

Martin Luther

John Calvin

John Knox

John Fisher

Thomas More

Ignatius Loyola

Henry of Navarre

Mary Queen of Scots


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