He has a degree in History from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2009) and a Master's in World History from Pompeu Fabra University (2011).
Post on 2022-12-01
The 16th century was marked by the religious division in European Christendom. The Protestant Reformation brought to the surface religious and political rivalries and old enmities in Europe.
16th century: religiosity and popular beliefs
Folk practices: between magic and witchcraft
Where religion did not reach with sufficient force, the population resorted to the practice of ancestral traditions between paganism and pre-Christian religiosity. It was necessary to provide solutions to people's problems where religion or medicine did not reach. In this context it is necessary to distinguish between white magic (divination or love spells) and black magic (hells).
1450: The Church associated the devil with black magic and witchcraft was prosecuted as a crime. The manual Malleus Maleficarum (1486) was the most important treatise published in the time on the persecution of witches in the Renaissance. According to this treatise the witch, by submitting to the power of the demon, became heretical.
In isolated areas of Europe, such as the Pyrenees and the Alps with a low cultural level and little presence of Christianity, the practice of superstitions and pagan rites predominated.
During the stage of persecution of heretics, the least able to defend themselves against the accusations of the ecclesiastical courts were the lower classes, women, the old, children and the sick. Complaints stemmed mostly from personal antagonisms and grievances and were a force for venting personal conflicts.
The great persecutions coincided in time with the times of calamities. Processes were used as scapegoats for collective sensibility.
The so-called witch hunt par excellence was carried out at the beginning of the Early Modern Age especially in Central Europe. They were based on the denunciation of supposed followers of the so-called science of witches. The persecution between the years 1450-1750 (with a maximum between 1550 and 1650) was only partly an ecclesiastical action against heresy, mainly it was a phenomenon of collective hysteria against magic and witchcraft, which made magic a crime and resulted in recriminations, denunciations, mass public trials and executions. In Castile the Court of the Inquisition did not institute trials for witchcraft until 1526, because until 1530 it was mostly busy persecuting the Jews.
The Parliament of Paris (1564-1640) confirmed 10% of death sentences (a total of 1094).
Popular religiosity and scepticism
Popular religiosity was based on piety and the exaggeration of feelings typical of the late medieval period. Contrast between sin and the fear of divine justice. There was a great omnipresence of the fear of death, which was conjured up with Christian rites lived from a more pagan than evangelical religiosity.
Characteristic elements of religiosity:
Attraction to apocalyptic type prophecies, visions and miracles.
Tragic manifestation of piety (remembering the Passion of Christ: crucifixes and Stations of the Cross).
Fear of purgatory and hell after death (devotion to relics, specialized intercession of saints, indulgences and rites of penance)
Popular practices that were shared by the leading groups.
16th century: little knowledge and religious ignorance (on the rural borders, but also in the city). Very difficult assessment.
Many curious spirits rejected dogmatism and scepticism grew. Openness to all sources of knowledge and interest in the practice of the occult and the Hermetic tradition (alternative beliefs).
Astrologers: straddling the two currents. Johannes Lichtenberger (Prognosticatio in latino, 1488): the world, shaken by the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter; announcement of the arrival of a golden state, behind the disappearance of the head of the Church.
Moral and ecclesiastical abuses
Christendom was aware of the need for reform of the Church and religious practice as early as the year 1000. In the 9th century there was a great difference between the practices of the early Christians and their time. Between the centuries that separate the year 1000 and 1500 these differences became greater.
During the Late Middle Ages, accusations of the evils of the Church multiplied at all levels:
Secular clergy: in the parishes the priests had no training and no moral authority. 20% of the clergy in Habsburg territory were accused of living as lay people (lay) or in concubinage (married).
Regular clergy: relaxation of the regime of life fixed in the rules, missing the community life that forced poverty, obedience and chastity.
High hierarchy: absentee bishops and abbots, dedicated to accumulating profits and embroiled in political struggles. The vast majority were of aristocratic origin and maintained the train of life. They often acted as violent feudal lords.
Popes and curia: loss of authority and often cause for scandal. Fiscal gluttony and arbitrariness of the curia.
Complaints common to all churches:
Nepotism: tradition of conflating an entire family lineage with the use of a position, benefits.
Annates: tax of the first year of the places provided by the pope.
Expectations: sale of a future vacancy.
Matrimonial dispensations, commutation of penalties, publication of bulls or indulgences.
Pope Julius II (Guiliano della Rovere, 1503-1513): Condottiero obsessed with the temporal power of the Papal States. During the rest of the 16th century, the popes oscillate between the control of the French and Hispanic monarchies (Conclaves).
The reform of the Church before the Reformation
Before the break of Christendom occurred during the Protestant Reformation, attempts at reform took place in different parts of Europe. In Florence, Girolamo Savonarola was one of the greatest exponents of criticism of Roman corruption. He was a Dominican friar and defender of exacerbated rigorism.
In bourgeois environments in the Rhineland and Burgundy, Devotio moderna was practised, a more interior piety (fewer communal external rites) and more spontaneous (without ecclesiastical mediation).
In Castile, an ecclesiastical reform focused on the regular clergy was attempted. Supported by Queen Isabella I and Cardinal Cisneros, he imposed the observance on the cloistered Franciscans. The University of Alcalá was also founded with the aim of having a more learned clergy.
Humanism recovered the classic texts and reread the Holy Scriptures. The printing press disseminated these religious texts in the vulgar language, which was known by the people.
Around the year 1500 an attempt was made to return to a more authentic religion purified of sterile theological disputes and the excesses of popular religiosity.
Social and political interests
The Religious Revolution, according to the French historian Lucien Febvre, took place in a social and political environment where territorial, group and individual variables were combined (determining the role of Martin Luther or Henry VIII of England):
Anti-Roman Germanism: Luther as a patriotic symbol against aggressive Latinity. But we cannot generalize because Ireland or Poland were outside of Latinity and stayed with Rome.
Greed for power and wealth: suppression of orders, appropriation of goods; urban patriciate, control of assistance and education institutions.
Determinant intervention of the secular authority: decants the religious fracture.
In the Nordic countries Protestantism was a reaction against King Christian II of Denmark-Norway (Scandinavian unity):
Sweden-Finland, internal division: opponents of the union deposed the archbishop of Uppsala: appeal to Rome and pontifical sentence, the Danish king occupied Sweden (1520). Repression, defeat and imprisonment.
Gustav Eriksson, King of Sweden (1523-1560). Ruler of a free Sweden that rejected Rome. In 1531 the Protestant Archbishop of Uppsala (Lutheranism, official religion). Catholicism was banned in 1604.
Control of the churches was not just a Protestant trend. The Catholics took advantage of the weakness of the Church to gain power. In Castile, the monarchy took advantage of Rome's weakness to ratify its control through:
Privatization of tithes and other ecclesiastical income, through pontifical concessions (without confiscation measures).
The Protestant Reformation
Luther and Lutheranism
Martin Luther, born in the village of Eisleben (German region of Saxony-Anhalt) in 1483. From a wealthy peasant family, he studied philosophy in Erfurt and entered as an Augustinian monk in 1505. He taught theology at the University of Wittenberg, but preferred to teaching classical languages and became a teacher of Sacred Scriptures. He saw himself more as a preacher than a teacher.
Evolution of Luther's thought
Luther as a teacher in Wittenberg (1512-1517)
Years of internal crisis (tower experience). Anxious for salvation, eager to reform the monastic order and scandalized after a first trip to Rome (1510).
Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans got an answer around his anxiety for salvation. According to Saint Paul "salvation does not come from works, but from the grace of faith received from God " (intermediary role of the Church, meaningless).
Luther's public break with the Church came with the publication of the "Differences of Martin Luther on the Power of Indulgences " (1517), better known as "The 95 Theses " where he questioned the papal authority in the granting of graces. Pope Leo X declared 41 of them heretical (1520) and the Imperial Diet of Worms (1521) condemned him to exile and ordered his work to be burned. The Duke of Saxony became his protector.
1520-1521: formulates his ideology in short books that the printing press spreads quickly
Pessimistic view of man: original sin affects the freedom to choose between good and evil (controversy with Erasmus of Rotterdam). Idea of predestination: it is God who chooses man.
A more personal relationship with God: the Word is key, the Bible speaks to every believer. It is not necessary to follow the guidance of tradition and teaching (Popes, bishops and councils).
Sacraments: they do not grant grace except through the faith of those who receive them and are limited to the foundations in the Scriptures: Baptism and Eucharist.
A more egalitarian church: a community of those who share the faith. Pastors provide a service and are not differentiated into a different order.
Repercussion of the spread of Luther's ideas:
Early years of violence: appeal to the nobility and the peasantry. Revolts of the knights on the Rhine (1552-1523) and of the peasants (1524-1525). Luther entrusts the established powers (princes and free cities) with the implementation of the Reformation.
1520-1540: expansion of the reformist movement within the Empire. He arrived in the cities before the territories of the Princes. In 1535 51 of the 85 free cities of the Empire had already declared themselves Protestant.
1531-1539: The Schmalkaldic League was created (association of Protestant princes fighting against the Catholic Emperor Charles V). The Schmalkaldic League was joined by 7 of the 15 central and northern grand princes and 11 of the 29 imperial cities. Only the Grand Dukes of Bavaria and the Habsburgs remained loyal to Rome.
1547: victory of the league at Mühlberg (approach of the Duke of Saxony).
1555: the Emperor accepted the religious peace of Augsburg: "cuius regio, eius religio", which translated means "according to the religion of the prince, so must be the religion of the subjects".
The Anabaptists and the Radical Reformers
Dogmatically radical and socially more revolutionary proposals than those proposed by Luther:
Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531). Preacher in Zurich (1518) with humanist training and criticism of the Erasmists who brought him closer to Luther. He implemented the Reformation in the city of Zurich (1523), under the following premises:
Doctrinally: iconoclast (from bells to singing). He declared the Bible and predestination as the only authority. The sacraments of Baptism and the supper, symbols of union (he denies transubstantiation).
Socially: religious and political community organized from bottom to top (communities confederated in synods). Reformed churches that depend on civil power, controlled by the communities.
Zurich imposed its ideas on Basel and other territories, but could not dominate the entire Confederation. Defeat before the league of Catholic cantons and cities (Kappel, 1531).
Anabaptists: apart from the Lutheran churches, more radical and sectarian functioning (groups of the elect); without orthodoxies, hierarchies or structures; makes the present world the biblical utopias (community of goods).
Pacific: persecuted, they founded small groups from Switzerland to the Netherlands and Bohemia.
Luther was the doctrinal reformer, on the other hand, John Calvin was the reformer of life, of orderly worship and an effective model of the church.
Jean Cauvin (Noyon, 1509 – Geneva, 1564) was a bourgeois who studied humanities and law in Paris. After his conversion to Protestant ideas, influenced mainly by Lutheranism, he decided to travel to Basel, but settled in Geneva (1536), where he wrote "The institution of the Christian religion" (1536), a systematic exposition of his doctrine:
Radical predestination: God foresees salvation without works. Belonging to the reformed church, a sign of choice.
He applied it in Geneva (1536-1538) and Strasbourg (1538-1541), through four ministries inspired by the Bible:
Pastors: administer word and sacraments.
Elders: laity watch over customs.
Deacons: institute the youth and interpret the scriptures.
Diffusion: through rigour and organization, Geneva became a model of success (1550-1570).
France: 1559, National Synod (50 communities draw up the Gallic Confession). In 1561 there were 670 Calvinist pastors. There were 8 civil wars between 1502 and 1598 and finally to bring peace King Henry IV proclaimed the Edict of Nantes (1598): a Catholic kingdom, with tolerance for Calvinist private worship (1 in 10 French were Calvinist Protestants, known as Huguenots).
Netherlands: 1561. In the great textile cities (Lille) and on the coast (from Antwerp to Friesland) it was the key ingredient of the independence struggle, which began with the iconoclastic fury (1566).
Scotland: John Knox (c. 1505-1572) great figure. In 1560, he instigated the Reformation Parliament (Confessio Scotish): break with Rome and secularization of ecclesiastical property.
England: English Schism and the Anglican Reformation
The English monarchy was the protagonist and the engine of the break with the Church of Rome. In 1529 Henry VIII drew up a manuscript of ancient sources proving that spiritual supremacy belonged to the monarch and demonstrating the illegality of papal authority. The Church of England recognized Henry VIII as supreme authority in 1531. In 1532 the Church began to break ties with Rome, giving authority over marriage matters to the Archbishop of Canterbury who annulled the marriage of Henry
1534: Parliament approves the laws of schism (organizational break, not dogmatic). The Act of Submission of the Clergy put an end to the influence of the pope and confirmed the kings of England as supreme heads of the Church of England. Therefore, the king became the head of the Reformed Church of England.
1536-1540: suppression of monasteries, closures of land for communal use and revolt of York Catholics against the Anglican reform Pilgrimage of Grace (1536).
England's break with Rome shaped a Church with very cautious doctrinal changes. There was a fear of Luther's Protestantism. Between the period 1539-1543 many concessions made in the previous years were reversed.
Edward VI (1547-1553) carried out a doctrinal change: no to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, liturgy in English, faithful celibacy and two Sacraments (Baptism and dinner).
Mary I (1553-1558) carried out a total reversal: she restored Catholicism to blood and fire (for this reason she was known as the "Bloody Mary" queen). He sent more than 300 Protestants to the stake (among them the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer).
Elizabeth I (1558-1608): established State Anglicanism. During his reign, "The thirty-nine articles of faith " (1563) were published where the theoretical principles of Thomas Cranmer (1553) were recovered but with a greater approach to the Calvinists.
1569: revolt in the north (excommunication). Most Catholics make religious and political allegiance compatible.
Persecution of the radical reform (purification of Anglicanism) and the queen refused to suppress the bishops (Episcopalians of Scotland).
1603: The Catholic Church of England (official name) maintained much of the doctrinal principles of Roman Catholicism.
The Catholic Counter-Reformation
Historiographical debate around the concept of the Counter-Reformation. In terms of the history of religion we speak of the Catholic Reformation (before and after the Lutheran Reformation). In terms of the period (of the political situation) we speak of the Counter-Reformation.
The Catholic Reformation involved promoting the unity and universality of the faith. Struggle directed from the top and executed equally throughout Christendom. Military and political aid countered the Protestant Reformation. The situation in 1590 was that 50% of Europe was Protestant. In 1640 the Catholic governments controlled 80% of the population.
The previous movements of the Catholic Reformation
Castile: three main axes
Cultured and pious bishops: monk Jerónimo Hernando de Talavera (confessor of Queen Isabel I, 1493-1507) and Cardinal Cisneros (Toledo, 1495-1517). New model of reformist bishop: trained clergy and observance.
Universities: Alcalá and Salamanca, where the main theologians who participated in the Council of Trent were trained.
Inquisition (1478): against the deviation from orthodoxy (processes against the Erasmists).
Italy: private reform initiatives
Groups of laymen and devout clergy, dedicated to charity for the sick, poor or orphans (Oratory of Divine Love founded in Genoa in 1497 and in Rome in 1513).
Foundation of congregations of clergy with a specific task (education, sick or missions): Filipenses (Philip Neri, 1565).
Jesuits, between Castile and Italy: founded by the Gipuzkoa knight Ignatius of Loyola (1540). Main timeline:
Hermit in Manresa, Spain, and Holy Land.
Barcelona, Alcalá, Salamanca and Paris.
1538: ordination and first Formula Instituti.
1540: The Society of Jesus is launched (pontifical approval) with a hierarchical organization. General custodian (broad powers), provincials and rectors of houses and colleges. To the 3 traditional vows, obedience to the pope is added.
Expansion: in 1566 it had 3,500 members in 18 provinces:
Congo (1548), Brazil (1549) and China (1551); training and selection among the most educated gives them prestige (soon in the curia and royal confessors).
The Council of Trent (1545-1563)
The Protestant Reformation put on the table the need to hold a council in the face of the Lutheran challenge. But its celebration was delayed by the rivalry between France and the emperor.
Pope Clement VII (of the Medici family) (1523-1534) was a firm ally of France. He lived through the sacking of Rome by the imperial troops (1527). Later, the reconciliation with Emperor Charles V took place (Bologna, 1530).
Pope Paul III (of the Farnese family) (1534-1549) was favourable to Castile. He renovated the College of Cardinals (reformist ambitions). He wanted to avoid Protestant penetration: he reorganized the Inquisition (1542) and promoted the diocesan indices (1543).
The first session of the Council of Trent came in 1545. Trento was an imperial city on the Italian side of the Alps. Three phases and successive interruptions:
1st stage 1545-1549 (Pope Paul III): assistance of few bishops and generals of orders. Frustrated general character: most Italians, few Spaniards, 3 French and no Germans. Questioned doctrinal principles were addressed.
2nd stage 1551-1552 (Pope Julius III): the Lutherans came (delegates from three princes and six cities), but their demands were rejected (discussing from the Scriptures and consecrating the superiority of the council).
3rd stage 1562-1563 (Pius IV): with Protestantism consolidated, the council focused on the internal reform of Catholicism.
During the years of the Council, several momentous events occurred:
The Peace of Augsburg (1555).
The failure of the Catholic restoration in England (1558).
The assault of the Huguenots on power (1559).
The provisions of Trent
Doctrinal: set the principles of the Catholic Church until the 20th century :
Value of works: rejection of predestination; with the grace of the sacraments man does good. Conciliation divine providence, human freedom: theological debate.
Sacraments: they give grace by themselves. Eucharist (real presence of Christ) and order (clerical, separated from the laity).
Organizational: clericalism, uniformity and richness of the liturgical rite (opposition to Protestantism)
Bishops: science (canon law or theology) and piety. Pastors of the local church: residence, visits and impulse of diocesan synods (reforms): Carlo Borromeo (Milan, 1564-1584).
Secular clergy: celibacy, external appearance (dress) and parish care: rector adoctrina (preaching and catechesis) and administers sacraments (records). Training in the seminaries (Rome, Milan and Rieti, 1564).
Forms of worship: purged of excesses. Processions: affirmation of questioned truths, the Eucharist in Corpus Christi or the intercession of the Virgin and the Saints (Shrines and hermitages).
Uniformization: a missal (1570) and a breviary (1568) were imposed from Rome. The liturgical variety is sacrificed.
The application of the Council
Fast track: the King of Castile Philip II made a public acceptance of the Council (1564) and favoured its supervision through provincial councils and diocesan synods. Quick application in the Italian states and Portugal.
Slow way: in France, the Gallican tradition delayed acceptance until 1615; in the Empire it was accepted around 1600 (impulse of the Bavarian and Habsburg princes).
Rome reinforced capital of Catholicism, diffusion centre in several ways:
Universities and colleges: The Gregoriana moved to Paris, Leuven or Salamanca. Specific missionary colleges (German, Irish or Hungarian).
Diplomacy: stable network; nuncio, informer and active in the territorial application.
Visits act limina (1585): the bishops report on the departure of their dioceses.
Roman Curia: most effective (1588), 15 congregations of cardinals, 9 in charge of church government (Inquisition, Index, Council, bishops, etc.).
A confessional Europe
The division of Christendom into different churches led to the process that German historiography calls confessionalization. The different competing churches had to outline their identity.
The Thirty-nine Articles of Faith (1563) (Anglican).
The Tridentine decrees (1563) Catholic, compendiums for preaching and instruction.
Major and Minor Catechisms of Luther (1529), Institutio de Calvin (1536) or Roman Catechism of Pius V (1566).
All churches devote efforts to:
Internal organization: synods in all territorial areas.
Educational effort: creation of confessional schools and academies.
Repressive institutions: persecution of heterodoxy.
Transformation of the relations between religious power and secular power: Pope and emperor are no longer references. One faith, one law, one king, guide the rulers: loyal subjects of various faiths, put an end to religious dissent. Freedom of conscience and worship: conflicts create religious tolerance, very unstable and doomed to failure (Augsburg, 1555 or Nantes, 1598).
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