4 Effects of the Protestant Reformation

The Reformation created a split in the Christian Church. People who remained loyal to the Church came to be known as Catholics, and those who opposed the Catholic Church established separate churches for themselves. The effects of the protestant reformation are as follows

Effects of the Protestant Reformation

The Reformation deeply impacted European society in the following ways:

Effects of the Protestant Reformation #1

Rise of Powerful States

  • The Reformation led to the rise of powerful nation-states. Nation-states refer to countries with well-defined natural boundaries with people following common culture, history, and ethnic principles.
  • It gave rise to the feeling of nationalism mainly in Germany and England. The kings of the European states declared themselves not only as of the head of the state but also as the head of the government.
  • In England, King Henry limited the powers of the Church and passed orders in the Parliament to nullify the authority of the Pope over the Church. This made him the supreme head of the Church of England.
  • England, France, Spain, Portugal, and Holland were some first nation-states that had become powerful. The Reformation thus reduced the power of the Church and made rulers the supreme powers in their countries.

Effects of the Protestant Reformation #2

Schism within the Church

  • The Reformation led to strong disagreements and divisions among the members of the Church. The uniformity in doctrines, dogmas, and rituals also came to an end. The Church itself was divided into Catholic and Protestant.
  • In Germany, the Protestant movement became successful. The German rulers supported the movement to weaken the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church.
  • The Reformation in England started more of a scuffle between the Catholic Church and the rulers. King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and he made himself the supreme head of the Church of England.
  • In Switzerland, Ulrich Zwingli spread Lutheranism. He condemned idol worship, rituals, and unnecessary ceremonies.
  • John Calvin was a French scholar who popularised the Protestant movement in Switzerland after the death of Zwingli. He declared the Bible as the sole authority for attaining salvation. Calvinism emerged as a reform movement.
  • In the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, the Protestant Lutheran Church became the official Church.

Effects of the Protestant Reformation #3

Counter Reformation

  • During the Reformation, the Church was split into the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church. A large number of Catholic Christians introduced many reforms within the Catholic Church. This came to be known as the Counter-Reformation.
  • As a result of the Counter-Reformation, many religious orders were founded. Some of these were the Society of Jesus founded by St Ignatius of Loyola.
  • St Francis Xavier, a follower of St Ignatius of Loyola, traveled to China and Japan for the propagation of Christianity.

Effects of the Protestant Reformation #4


  • Mercantilism is an economic theory that aims at maintaining a favorable balance of trade by discouraging imports and encouraging exports. The rulers of the states aimed to ensure the prosperity and security of the state.
  • This term was first used by Adam Smith in his treatise ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in which the European states imposed restrictions over both internal and external trade. Some features of mercantilism were
  • According to the theory of mercantilism, the strength and the richness of the country depend on two things—the possession of gold and silver mines and the favorable balance of trade (when export exceeds imports).
  • Wealth is considered the ultimate source of power.
  • Mercantilists were in favor of charging interests on the money for registering profits. However, they advocated the charging of low-interest rates.
  • Mercantilists consider land and labor as the only factors of production. They advocated self-sufficiency in food grains.
  • They emphasized having a large population for increasing production and for participating in the wars. They further supported equal rights for immigrants.
  • The mercantilists advocated maintaining a favorable balance of trade by restricting the import of foreign goods.

Also, Read Modern Age in Europe -The Reformation

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