The Protestant Reformation Essay

1129 words - 5 pages

The Protestant Reformation
During the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation was a major European movement that mainly focused on reforming the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Along with religious meanings, there were political rulers who wanted to extend their power and control, at the expense of the Church. The Reformation ended the unity imposed by medieval Christianity and, in the eyes of many historians, signaled the beginning of the modern era. A weakening of the old order was already under way in Northern Europe, as evidenced by the emergence of thriving new cities and a determined ...view middle of the document...

The movement quickly gained popularity in the German states, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Scotland and portions of France. Support came from sincere religious reformers, while others manipulated the movement to gain control of valuable church property. The term Protestant was not initially applied to the reformers, but later was used to describe all groups protesting Roman Catholic orthodoxy. As the hope of reforming the Roman church faded, the "protestants" were forced to separate from Roman Catholicism resulting in Lutheran churches in Germany, Scandinavia and some eastern European countries, the Reformed churches in Switzerland and the Netherlands, Presbyterian churches in Scotland, and the Anglican church in England, and other diverse elements all of which have evolved into the Protestant denominations of today.

Soon the Protestant Church itself divided resulting in two more churches, one Protestant, and the other reformed church. The Reformed Church is better known as Presbyterian, whose conspicuous leader was John Calvin.

John Calvin (1509–1564) was a French theologian and reformer who fled religious persecution in France and settled in Geneva in 1536. He instituted a form of Church government in Geneva which has become known as the Presbyterian Church. He insisted on reforms including: the congregational singing of the Psalms as part of church worship, the teaching of a catechism and confession of faith to children, and the enforcement of a strict moral discipline in the community by the pastors and members of the church.

In England, the long reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603), who became known as the “Virgin Queen” for her reluctance to endanger her authority through marriage, coincided with the flowering of the English Renaissance, associated with such renowned authors as William Shakespeare. By her death in 1603, England had become a major world power in every respect, and Queen Elizabeth I passed into history as one of England’s greatest monarchs. But Elizabeth`s reign was not all sweetness and light for the re-established Church of England. Elizabeth was aware of considerable difficulties including the risk of war with Catholic countries, especially France and Spain, potential civil war in England, and even doubts about her succession. In 1569 there was a Romanist rebellion in the North of England in support of Mary Queen of Scots that was put down. Roman Catholics remained against her and plotted for her downfall on the orders of the pope who excommunicated Elizabeth in 1570. Against this background her restoration of the Church of England...

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