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Protestant Reformation

In the 16th Century Europe, the dominant religion was Roman Catholic. The church was the basis of society and wielded enormous power over the nations. Roman Catholicism was premised on the belief that the pope had the power to give pardon, salvation, and could buy souls condemned to purgatory. During this time, the universal language for sermons was Latin, and the sermons themselves were more or less ritualistic affairs. (Richard W. Bulliet et al)

The Protestant Reformation in Western Europe began in 1517, with the 95 theses of Martin Luther, challenging the status quo. The theses were basically a debate about religion, whereby he argued that there was a direct relationship between God and man. At the time, all prayers needed an intermediary, and no one could pray directly to God. . (Richard W. Bulliet et al) Martin Luther disputed the use of Latin during sermons, and he emphasized the use of vernacular, which the people could understand.

In addition, he urged for the removal of absolute authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church. He further urged for the abolition of taxes paid to the church, because by removing the role of intermediaries, and buying souls from purgatory. He asserted that if indeed there were any souls languishing in purgatory, and then wouldn’t it be prudent for the Pope to free them through love and goodness? Many people were indulging in excesses, with the knowledge that they would simply buy pardon from the church. . (Richard W. Bulliet et al)

If his suggestions were to be implemented, the church was going to lose monetary funds, as well as losing political power. This is so especially because previously, the requirement was that the taxes had to be paid to the kings, who would in turn pass on the money to the Pope. The Pope would then decide on how the money would be allocated. With the Reformation, Kings would no longer be obliged to pay the church. The countries would become wealthy enough and be able to resist the churches influence, and finally attain their independence.

(Richard W. Bulliet et al) This movement was very significant in the political landscape of Europe, because as a result of the rebelling against Papal authority, Europe gained political independence. The protestant emphasis on personal judgment helped the development of democratic governments. These governments were based on the choice of an individual, which would be determined through voting. (Richard W. Bulliet et al) The Reformation is also credited for the rise of nationalism, and the growth of towns and cities.

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