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Christianity portal
(The Ninety-Five Theses)
The Reformation
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The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. It was sparked by the 1517 posting of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals, leadership and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people's faith in the Catholic Church and the Papacy that governed it. This, as well as many other factors, such as spread of Renaissance ideas and inventions, such as the invention of the printing press, and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, contributed to the creation of Protestantism.

The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent—the most important ecumenical council since Nicaea II 800 years earlier (at the time, there had not been an ecumenical council since Lateran IV over 300 years earlier, a length only to be matched by the interval between Trent and Vatican I)—and spearheaded by the new order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) specifically organized to counter the Protestant movement. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of Ireland and pockets of Britain and the Netherlands, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.

The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well. The most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.

Read more about Reformation:  Religious Situation in Europe, History and Origins, Conclusion and Legacy, See Also

Famous quotes containing the word reformation:

    Go on then in doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword; shew that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man.
    Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)