AP European History Notes

Chapter 14: Reform and Renewal in the Christian Church

  1. Introduction
    1. ​The Christian humanists of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries—More, Erasmus, Colet, and Lefevre d’Etaples—urged reform of the church on the pattern of the early church, primarily through educational and social change
    2. The need for reform of the individual Christian and of the institutional church is central to the Christian faith (new -- criticism of educated lay people, religious needs not met)
  2. ​The Condition of the Church
    1. ​Introduction
      1. ​Papal conflict with German emperor Frederick II, Babylonian Captivity and Great Schism badly damaged the prestige of church leaders
      2. Humanists of Italy and Christian humanists denounced corruption in the church
      3. “We Italians are irreligious and corrupt above others, because the Church and her representatives set us the worst example.” — Machiavelli
    2. ​Signs of Disorder
      1. ​Clergy identified religion with life injecting religious symbols and practices
      2. ​​In the early sixteenth century, critics of the church concentrated their attacks on:
        1. ​Clerical immorality: many priests had concubines and reports of neglect of the rule of celibacy such as drunkenness, gambling, and indulgence in fancy dress
        2. Clerical ignorance: many priests could barely read and write but clerical educational standards in the early sixteenth century improved
        3. Clerical absenteeism and pluralism: many clerics held several benefices (offices) at the same time but rarely visited them and even less, performed responsibilities – instead they collected revenues and hired a poor priest paying him a fraction
        4. Italian officials in the papal curia held benefices in England, Spain, and Germany, and provoked charges, by the critics, of nationalistic resentment
      3. ​Because church officials served their monarchs, those officials were allowed to govern the church (councilors, diplomats, treasury officials, chancellors, viceroys)
        1. ​In most countries except England, members of the nobility occupied the highest church positions (popes of the period 1450-1550 lived as secular princes)
    3. ​​Signs of Vitality
      1. ​In Holland beginning in the late fourteenth century, “Brethren of the Common Life” lived simply while carrying out the Gospel teaching of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and preparing devout candidates for priesthood
      2. “Oratories of Divine Love in Italy” – oratories: groups of priests living in communities who worked to revive the church through prayer and preaching
      3. Europeans in the early 1500s remained pious and loyal to the Roman Catholic church
      4. Pope Julius II summoned an ecumenical council to discuss Church reform 1512-1517
        1. ​Council recommended higher standards for education f the clergy and instruction
        2. Bishops placed responsibility of eliminating bureaucratic corruption on papacy
  3. ​​​Martin Luther and the Birth of Protestantism
    1. ​Introduction
      1. ​German Augustinian friar, Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation
      2. Luther of the sixteenth century articulated the widespread desire for reform of the Christian church and a deep yearning for salvation
    2. ​Luther’s Early Years
      1. ​Martin Luther was born at Eisleben in Saxony and attended the university of Erfurt
      2. Luther became a friar but had terrible anxieties about sin and worried continually about his salvation, and later believed salvation comes through simple faith in Christ
    3. ​The Ninety-five Theses
      1. ​The twenty-seven-year-old archbishop of Magdeburg, Albert, was also the administrator of the see of Halberstadt and had been appointed archbishop of Mainz to hold these offices at the same time required papal dispensation
      2. Pope Leo X needing money to continue construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica, collected money from Archbishop Albert who had borrowed money from the Fuggers and Leo X authorized Archbishop Albert to sell indulgences in Germany to repay
        1. ​Indulgence: in order to be reconciled to God, the sinner must confess his or her sins to a priest and do the penance assigned
        2. Doctrine of indulgence: God is merciful, but just, Christ and the saints establish ed a “treasury of merits,” which they can draw, and third, the church has the authority to grant sinners the spiritual benefits of those merits
        3. ​Later, people believed that an indulgence secured total remission penalties of sin
      3. ​Archbishop Albert hired Dominican friar John Tetzel to sell the indulgences and soon men and women could buy indulgences not only for themselves but also for deceased parents, relatives, or friends
      4. Luther, on the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517, attached to the door of the church at Wittenberg Castle a list of ninety-five theses (propositions) on indulgences
        1. ​Luther firmly rejected the notion that salvation could be achieved by indulgences and some of the theses challenged the pope’s power to grant such indulgences and others criticized the papal wealth
        2. The theses were soon translated, printed, and read throughout the empire and when Luther was questioned, he rested his fundamental argument on the principle that there was no biblical basis for indulgences
        3. In 1519, he publicly challenged the authority of the Pope and the church council and the papacy responded by giving him two months or be excommunicated
        4. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared him an outlaw of the empire and denied legal protection, but the Duke Frederick of Saxony protected him
    4. ​​Protestant Thought
      1. ​Between 1520 and 1530, Luther worked out the basic theological tenets that became the articles of faith for his new church and for all the Protestant groups
        1. Protestant derives from the protest drawn up by a small group of reforming German princes at the Diet of Speyer in 1529
        2. Protestant first meant “Lutheran” but eventually meant all non-Catholic Christians
      2. ​Luther provided new answers to four old, basic theological issues
        1. ​How is a person to be saved? -- salvation comes by faith alone
        2. Where does religious authority reside? -- authority rests in the Word of God as revealed in the Bible alone and as interpreted by an individual’s conscience
        3. What is the church? -- re-emphasized the Catholic teaching that the church consists of the entire community of Christian believers
        4. What is the highest form of Christian life? -- all vocations have equal merit, whether ecclesiastical or secular, and that every person should serve God in his or her individual calling
      3. ​Whereas Catholic doctrine held that there are seven sacraments, Luther believed that the Scriptures support only three sacraments—baptism, penance, and the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper
        1. ​Catholic Church held transubstantiation -- bread and wine because the actually body and blood of Christ, who is then fully present in the bread and wine
        2. Luther defined consubstantiation -- belief that after consecration the bread and wine undergo a spiritual change whereby Christ is really present but food same
        3. Swiss reformed Ulrich Zwingli affirmed that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial
        4. John Calvin believed Luther’s consubstantiation (consumed spiritually)
    5. ​​The Social Impact of Luther’s Beliefs
      1. ​Two significant late medieval developments prepared the way for Luther’s ideas
        1. ​Since the fifteenth century, city governments had expressed resentment at clerical privileges and immunities
        2. Critics of the late medieval church condemned the irregularity and poor quality of the sermons -- town burghers established preacherships to support good preachers
      2. ​Luther in his 1520 treatise On Christian Liberty: “A Christian man is the most free lord of all and subject to none.” (words contributed to social unrest)
      3. After crop failures in 1523 and 1524, Swabian peasants demanded an end to death taxes, new rents, and noble seizure of village common lands forming the Twelve Articles, which Luther who wanted to prevent rebellion, supported by warned that nothing justified the use of armed force
      4. Revolts soon broke out using Luther’s writings as their slogans but he had written of the “freedom” of the Christian, but he had meant the freedom to obey the Word of God, for in sin men and women lose their freedom and break their God relationship
      5. Lutheranism came to exalt the state and subordinate church to the secular rulers
      6. Many disciplines attributed Luther’s fame and success to the invention of the printing press, which rapidly reproduced and made known his ideas (incredible skill with language attracted humanists and educated people)
      7. Hymns, psalms, and Luther’s two catechisms, compendiums of basic religious know-ledge, also show the power of language in spreading the ideals of the Reformation
      8. Luther’s claim that all vocations are equal, Protestant rejection of celibacy and monasticism, the insistence that all men and women should read the Bible, and Luther’s acceptance of sexual desire in marriage lock all contributed to some improvement in women’s circumstances during the Middle Ages
  4. ​​Germany and the Protestant Reformation
    1. ​Introduction
      1. The Golden Bull of 1356 legalized what had long existed—government by an aristocratic federation and each of the seven electors gained virtual sovereignty
      2. Against this background of decentralization and strong local power, Martin Luther launched a movement to reform the church
    2. ​The Rise of the Habsburg Dynasty
      1. In 1477, the marriage of Maximilian I of the house of Habsburg and Mary of Burgundy united the Austrian empire making the family the strongest in Germany
      2. The Habsburg-Burgundian marriage angered the French, who considered Burgundy part of French territory and had lusted after Burgundian Netherlands for centuries
      3. From his father, Habsburg Charles V inherited Spain, Spanish dominions in Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Naples, Habsburg lands in Austria, southern Germany, the Low Countries, and Franche-Comte in east-central France
      4. In 1519, Charles V secured Holy Roman Emperor and Germans urged placing the administration in the hands of an imperial council
      5. Charles continued the Burgundian policy that German revenues and German troops were subordinated to the needs of other parts of the empire, first Burgundy
    3. The Political Impact of Luther’s Beliefs
      1. Luther’s appeal to German patriotism gained him strong support, and national feeling influenced many princes indifferent to the complexities of the religious issues
      2. The church in Germany possessed great wealth and rejection of Roman Catholicism and adoption of Protestantism would mean the legal confiscation of land
      3. Charles V was a vigorous defender of Catholicism but he lacked the material resources to oppose Protestantism and he was preoccupied with gaining land
      4. Five times between 1521 and 1555, Charles V went to war with the Valois kings of France (French supported Lutheran princes within Germany)
      5. In the Peace of Augsburg (1555) accepted religious status quo in which each prince of Germany was permitted to determine the religion of his territory
  5. The Growth of the Protestant Reformation
    1. Introduction
      1. By 1555 much of northern Europe had broken with the Roman Catholic church and the most significant new form of Protestantism was Calvinism
    2. Calvinism
      1. Calvin’s theological writings profoundly influenced the social thought and attitudes
      2. In 1533 he experienced a religious crisis, in which he converted to Protestantism
      3. Convinced that God selects certain people to do his work, Calvin believed that God had specifically called to reform the church (The Institutes of the Christian Religion)
        1. The cornerstone of Calvin’s theology was his belief in the absolute sovereignty and omnipotence of God and the total weakness of humanity
        2. Predestination: the eternal decree of God, by which he has determined in himself, what he would have become of every individual of mankind (can do nothing)
        3. Rather than considering fatalism, the Calvinist believed in the redemptive work of Christ and was confident that God had saved him or her (great struggle)
      4. Calvin aroused Genevans to a high standard of morality and had two remarkable assets: complete mastery of the Scriptures and exceptional fluency in French
        1. In Geneva, the Genevan Consistory consisted of twelve laymen plus the Company of Pastors headed by Calvin and absence from sermons, criticism of ministers, dancing, card playing, family quarrels, and heavy drinking banned
        2. Between 1542 and 1546 alone, 67 people were banished and 58 were executed including Spanish humanist Michael Servetus (no scriptural basis for the Trinity, rejected child baptism and insisted a person under 20 cannot commit a mortal sin
      5. Calvinism because force in international Protestantism and Calvinist ethic of “calling” dignified all work with a religious aspect (aggressive, vigorous activities)
    3. The Anabaptists
      1. Anabaptists (means “to baptize again” and described as “left wing of the Reform-ation”) believed in adult baptism, that children could not be baptized, religious tolerance, separation of church and state, sharing of property, and female ministers
      2. They wanted to rebaptize believers who had been baptized as children
      3. Zwingli, Luther, Calvin, and Catholics saw the separation of church and state as leading ultimately to the complete secularization of society and banished them.
    4. The English Reformation
      1. With copies of English humanist William Tyndale’s English Bible and some of Luther’s ideas, the Lollards represented the ideal of “a personal, scriptural, non-sacramental, and lay-dominated religions (Protestant doctrines)
      2. Traditional Catholicism exerted strong, diverse, and vigorous hold over the imagination and loyalty of the people
      3. In 1527, English King Henry VIII, having fallen love with Anne Boleyn, wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and used series of Acts to reform England
        1. The Act in Restraint of Appeals (permanent break from Rome) declared the king to be the supreme sovereign in England and forbade judicial appeals to the papacy
        2. The Act of Submission of the Clergy required churchmen to submit to the king and forbade the publication of ecclesiastical laws without royal permission
        3. The Supremacy Act declared the king the supreme head of the Church of England
        4. Appeals and Supremacy Acts led to heated debate in the House of Commons and those such as John Fisher, bishop of Rochester and Thomas More were beheaded
      4. When Anne Boleyn failed twice to produce a male child, Henry VIII charged her with adulterous incest and in 1536 had her beheaded
      5. Between 1535 and 1539, under influence of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, dissolved the English monasteries selling the land to the middle and upper classes and the proceeds were then spent on war
      6. In 1536 popular opposition in the north to the religious changes led to the Pilgrimage of Grace, a massive multiclass rebellion that was the largest in English history
      7. The nationalization of the church and the dissolution of the monasteries led to important changes in government administration (under Crown’s jurisdiction)
      8. Rule shifted from Edward VI to Mary Tudor (sharp move back to Catholicism) to Elizabeth whose subjects wanted a Roman Catholic ruler and the ones would wanted all Catholic elements in the Church of England eliminated (“purify” -- “Puritans”)
    5. The Establishment of the Church of Scotland
      1. Kings James V and his daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots, staunch Catholics and close allies of Catholic France, opposed reform while Scottish nobles supported reform
      2. John Knox, a minister who had studied in Geneva with Calvin, persuaded the Scottish parliament to set up the Presbyterian Church of Scotland which was strictly Calvinist in doctrine (presbyters, or minister, not bishops, governed them)
    6. Protestantism in Ireland
      1. To the ancient Irish hatred of English political and commercial exploitation, the Reformation added the bitter antagonism of religion
      2. The Irish parliament severed the church from Rome making the English king sovereign over ecclesiastical organization and practice (remained Roman Catholic)
    7. Lutheranism in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark
      1. In Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, the monarchies led in the religious Reformation
      2. Lutheranism state churches spread out and consolidation of Swedish monarchy
      3. Christian III, king of Denmark and of Norway, secularized church property and set up a Lutheran church (Denmark adopted Lutheranism as its state religion)
  6. The Catholic and the Counter-Reformations
    1. Introduction 
      1. The Catholic Reformation began before 1517 and sought renewal basically through the stimulation of a new spiritual fervor
      2. The Counter-Reformation started in the 1540s as a reaction to the rise and spread of Protestantism and involved Catholic efforts to convince or coerce heretics to return
    2. The Slowness of Institutional Reform
      1. The spiritual leaders of the Western church moved so slowly because of preoccupation with the Habsburg-Valois wars and the difficulty of reforming so complicated a bureaucracy as the Roman curia
    3. The Council of Trent
      1. Cardinal Farnese, a Roman aristocrat, humanist, and astrologer, promised he would summon a council and ruled as Pope Paul III
      2. The Council of Trent met intermittently and reaffirmed authority of the Scripture, the Church tradition, seven sacraments, and transubstantiation
      3. The Council of Trent required bishops to live in their land, ended pluralism, simony, and disallowed the selling of indulgences
      4. On marriage, cows had to be exchanged publicly to be considered true
      5. The Council of Trent did not meet everyone’s expectations as reconciliation with Protestantism was not achieved, nor was reform brought about immediately
    4. New Religious Orders
      1. One important need: to raise the moral and intellectual level of the clergy and people
      2. The Ursuline order of nuns, founded by Angela Merici attained prestige for the education of women and combated heresy though Christian education
      3. The Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius Loyola, a former Spanish soldier, resisted the spread of Protestantism, converting Asians and Latin American Indians to Catholicism, and spreading Christian education all over Europe (Spiritual Exercises)
        1. Members called “Jesuits” and candidates underwent a two-year novitiate, in contrast to the usual one-year probation then traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, professed members vowed “special obedience to the sovereign pontiff regarding missions”
        2. Within Europe, the Jesuits brought southern Germany and much of eastern Europe back to Catholicism
    5. The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office
      1. In 1542, Pope Paul III created the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office to manage the Roman Inquisition, which operated under the principles of Roman law
      2. The Holy Office published the Index of Prohibited Books, a catalogue of forbiddens
      3. The Inquisition was a committee of six cardinals with authority to investigate, judge, and punish heretics (also had to power to execute those heretics)

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Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 14: Reform and Renewal in the Christian Church" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2024. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/european-history/outlines/chapter-14-reform-and-renewal-in-the/>.