The Reformation was a religious movement that took place in Europe in the sixteenth century. It began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and finally resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches. The Main Causes of the Reformation are as follows
Causes of the Reformation
The Catholic Church had become very powerful in the medieval ages. The Pope was the supreme head of the Church and exercised his powers autocratically. Some corrupt practices of the Church:
- In the Middle Ages, the Church had vast property. Besides, land resources, people also had to pay religious taxes called ‘tithe’ to the Church. In addition, the Church collected another sum called ‘Peter’s Pence’ from the people.
- As the Pope needed money to build St Peter’s Church, he issued certificates called ‘Indulgences’. Anyone who committed sin had to buy these indulgences to become free from the sins committed by them.
- The positions in the Church were given to the highest bidder. These practices annoyed not only the common people but also the rulers of the state.
- As the Church had become a wealthy institution, the church officials began to live a luxurious life and started neglecting their duties. Further, the priests promised salvation to the people in exchange for fees. These practices were severely criticized by the people. Erasmus wrote a book ‘In Praise of Folly’ and prepared the ground for the Reformation.
- As the Popes became powerful, they began to interfere in the political affairs of the state. The kings wanted to tax the Church which owned vast wealth. This was resisted by the Papacy. King Henry VIII of England obtained the lands of the Church and passed an act for the dissolution of monasteries.
- Martin Luther was a German priest who opposed the sale of indulgences by the Church. In 1517, Luther wrote ninety-five theses criticizing the practices of the Church and nailed them on the doors of the Church at Wittenberg in Germany.
- Martin Luther was presented before a Grand Diet held at Worms known as the Diet of Worms. The diet ordered Luther to be outlawed. However, the latter had the support of the German rulers, and so, no action was taken against him. This movement came to be known as the German Protestant Movement. This led to the beginning of the Reformation Movement in Europe. This event is considered the immediate cause of the Reformation Movement.
Also, Read Modern Age in Europe -The Reformation