The Reformation is one of the most significant events in the history of the European world. In turn it is one of the most significant events of the Western World. The Reformation challenged and fractured the hold the Roman Catholic Church had on its followers. Prior to the Reformation, there were only two churches the Christian Church that followed the policy set up by Rome. The other was the Orthodox Church that held its leadership from the city of Constantinople.

The century prior to the Reformation Europe witnessed various famines, economic depressions, and lastly the Black Plague. Science and math from the Middle East was also reentering the continent. Supreme authority of the church was starting to be questioned. The church itself was making it difficult to fully adhere to their policies. There were many accounts of religious leaders at the village, city, and country levels committing unholy acts like gambling, sex, alcoholism, incorrect interpretations of the word of God, and entering into the arena of politics instead of staying in the world of spirituality.

The most obvious contradiction came from the act of forgiveness. The acts of indulgences were as old as the Crusades. Popes would grant forgiveness of sin if a man was willing to participate in a crusade. Of the years, the concept of forgiveness was lost. The idea of forgiveness and salvation was buried out of the public’s view. The church was able to make more money by having people pay for their sins and the sins of their dead relatives.
Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Martin Luther was a German priest that taught Theology at the University of Wittenberg from 1512-1546. Martin Luther was more concern with the original written word, than the modern day interpretation of the word of God. Martin had a difficult time believing that paying money would provide salvation. The Theology of the church stated that forgiveness could only be granted in the sinner is truly sorry for their actions. Indulgences eliminated this from the formula. What bothered Martin Luther also was that the church openly knew what they were doing, but still wished to make money of the ignorance of the common man and woman.
Martin Luther

Martin Luther Bonus

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted 95 Thesis on the doors of Wittenberg Castle's church. A thesis is a proposition. Martin Luther was not looking for a break from the church, or to majority reform the church. Martin wished to have a debate about the merits of the direction of the church. The major point through history was the selling of indulgences, but there were other issues brought to the table.

The Issue
Church Authority
What is the
Higher form of
Church Life?
Martin Luther
Faith alone ensures
Read the Bible and
let the reader make
their own decision
(For this Luther
believes the Bible
should be printed in
home language)
The Entire
All vocations are
The Church
Faith and deeds
bring salvation
The Bible and
through the Church
teaching the Bible
The Clergy
The highest form is
religious life
Martin Luther's 95 Thesis was very popular because of the invention of the printing press. People were able to mass produce his ideas and many people in Germany and eventually on the continent of Europe agreed with Martin Luther. The church had a serious situation because it gave princes the ability to walk away from the church. Also church authority has not been challenged like this for many years. Martin Luther faced the punishment of excommunication. This meant he could no longer be part of the Christian church. Upon his death he could not receive the proper rituals of burial and therefore, he would never enter Heaven.
Martin Luther was given an opportunity to recant his ideas at the Council of Worms (a city in Germany). He refused to recant his ideas and stuck to his beliefs. The church is now split and a group of Christians no longer receive their authority from the Pope in Rome. The story does not end there.
John Calvin (1509-1564)

Another man that believed that the church should go into a different direction was John Calvin. John Calvin could be said to be on the other side of the pendulum when compared to Martin Luther. Luther was a man that believed that mankind was better than what the church preached. For years man was told that they were not good enough to achieve specific heights unless you did specific things like indulgences or choose to live life inside the church. Martin Luther believed that man could achieve. John Calvin was different, he believed that mankind was weak and that man holds no real value compared to God. Because of this, John Calvin believed that man should be held to stricter standards.

John Calvin believed that mankind was predestined to do everything in their life. There is no spontaneity. At the end a person will know if they were destined for Heaven or Hell. All actions and thoughts have already been created and play out. It is man's job to follow the script. People would search for answers through their behavior if they were going to Heaven or Hell.

John Calvin's views obviously created the Christian sect called the Calvinists. Some of John Calvin's view was the model of two other Christian sects; the Presbyterian Church and the Puritans. The Puritans are known mostly for their plight from England and Europe and choosing to flee to the New World to live life they way that they wished.

The church at this time was becoming too political and also less religious in various ways.  There were accounts of religious leaders receiving bribes, gambling, alcoholism, sexual relations, and poor interpretations of the Bible.

The Renaissance Popes
Sixtus IV (r.1471-1484)
Innocent VIII (r. 1482-1492
Alexander VI (r. 1492-1503)
Julius II (r. 1503-1513)
Leo X (r. 1513-1521)

When Sixtus became pope he needed to restore the prestige of Rome and the papacy.  Rome was in shambles because of the Avignon Captivity.  The Avignon Captivity is when there were men called the Anti-Popes.  These popes lived and ruled outside of Rome.  Sixtus had to rebuild the dilapidated churches and buildings along the Tiber River.  He also built the Sistine Chapel as a fortress against the Roman mob so that the Cardinals could elect new popes safely.

The negative things he did as pope was the amount of money he spent.  He also enriched his family with favors, money, and offices.  He also interfered with politics of other Italian city-states.  The positive things he did do were building the Sistine Chapel, the Sistine Bridge, and helped create the Vatican library.

He was a patron of the arts and he tried to suppress the abuses of the Spanish Inquisition.  He also established the first hospitals and new churches.

Innocent VIII used the papacy to generate money.  He institutionalized the selling of offices.  Innocent had numerous ‘nephews,’ and ‘nieces.’  One of his daughters married Lorenzo the Magnificent’s sons.  In return, Innocent made Lorenzo’s son a cardinal at the age of 14.  Later that cardinal became Pope Leo X.
Alexander VI is known to be the lowest of the Popes.  He was criticized for his degradation and immorality.  His real name was Rodrigo Borgia.  Borgia had three mistresses, and acknowledged three of his children; Juan, Cesare, and Lucrezia.   He spent lavishly to enrich his family and buy lands and titles for them.  During his reign, Borgia created 12 new cardinalities including one for his son, Cesare who was 18 years old at the time.  Borgia was known for his gambling, cheating, and use of women.

Alexander’s biggest goal was to make an empire for children.  He used his political power to gain territory.  To ensure political ties, he would marry his daughter Lucrezia to seal contracts.

Julius II real name was Della Rovere, who was the nephew of Sixtus IV.  Della Rovere was targeted by the Borgias for their corruption.  He was exiled for 10 years.  He was one of the greatest Renaissance Popes.  He was a great patron of the arts.  He also led military efforts to prevent French domination of Italy.  It was around 1503 the Pope conceived the idea of building St. Peter’s Basilica.  The foundation stone was laid in 1506.
Pope Leo X was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent.  He was the Pope during Martin Luther’s Reformation against the church.  He did enjoy the power and money of the papacy.  He appointed 3 nephews and 2 first cousins Cardinals.  Indulgences were used to pay for the many of the projects of the time period.