The Protestant Reformation was a significant movement that aimed at reforming the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. During the 15th century, reformers began to question Catholic doctrine and slowly moved away from the church. There are many possibilities to how the Protestant Reformation happened.
During the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was the center of power. Before the Protestant Reformation, many felt that the Church was not meeting the needs of everyday people. The Church was selling indulgences. Lots of money would go to the Church because many people were fighting over them (Doc I). Pope Boniface VIII believes that it is needed that everybody should become Catholic. He believes that every human being should have salvation. He was taking advantage of the people and wants to have complete power. (Doc J) By 1517, the Protestant Reformation began. In his days as a monk, Martin Luther was faithful to the Church. He always thought he hasn’t done enough for God and that he could do better. (Doc A) When he found out, Martin Luther was strongly disgusted from the idea that freedom from God’s punishments can be bought. In October 31, 1517, he posted the ninety-five theses on the Church’s door and initially started the Protestant Reformation.
After the posting of the ninety-five theses, follower of Zwingli, Myconius states that the theses were all over Germany only after two weeks and all over Christendom in one month. He exaggerates saying that the angels were the messengers to bring them to attention around the world. (Doc C) The news of the ninety-five theses spread so quickly due to the printing press. Because of what he did, Martin Luther was accused of heresy. Stronger than the tone he used as a monk, Martin Luther defended himself and criticized the pope of what he did to the Church. (Doc G)
Luther wasn’t the only one who was not happy with the Church. Erasmus, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, the German Princes, and many more were not grateful with the Church. In 1514, Christian humanist Erasmus wrote a play, Julius Extended. In it, the characters were arguing about the power of the pope. (Doc B) A scholar, Marsiglio of Padua says that no one can have authority in religion, not even the pope. (Doc K) Ulrich Zwingli debated that Christians know nothing about God because they have been brainwashed by the Church. (Doc E) John Calvin said that the Church have caused humans to be superficial. He says that God looks at us spiritually and not physically. (Doc F) One German prince complained that the pastors are like shepherds, but only physically. They care for nothing but the indulgences. The selling of indulgences increases the sins people commit. (Doc D) From the Middle Ages to the Protestant Reformation, there were many views about Christianity.
Many movements afterwards were related to the Protestant Reformation created by the reformers, themselves. Most of Northern Europe adopted Protestantism. The Protestant spirit of individualism encouraged ideas such as democracy, science, and capitalism. It had a big effect on European history.