World History



























































Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation when he nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Chapel.

Without Gutenberg’s press, we might not remember the name Martin Luther. But through the power of the press, Luther’s ideas spread until they tore apart the Catholic Church. The influence of the church had already started to decline during the late middle ages following the horror of the Black Death and conflicts over who was the rightful pope. Then, along came the Renaissance to revive the classical Greek idea of humanism, a concern with human life on Earth that further reduced the influence of the church.

Martin Luther = a Catholic monk who sparked the Protestant Reformation when he posted his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Chapel in Germany.

humanism = a concern with human values in this life as opposed to religious beliefs and the afterlife.

But the biggest blow to the Roman Catholic Church came in 1517 when Luther, a Catholic monk and college professor, nailed his “95 Theses” (or arguments) to the door of a Catholic church in Germany. Luther was upset about the sale of “indulgences,” which allowed Catholics to pay money to be forgiven of sins. The money was being used to build the huge, new, Renaissance-style St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

95 Theses = a document written by Martin Luther to protest the sale of indulgences by the Medieval Church.

Germany = a large country in western Europe, east of France and north of Italy. Its capital city is Berlin.

indulgences = certificates sold by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. Buying such certificates was a way of cancelling your sins.

Saint Peter’s Basilica = a famous church in Rome, built over the site of Saint Peter’s grave.

Rome = the capital city of Italy. In ancient times, it was the capital of the Roman Empire. The term “Rome” can also refer to the Roman Empire as a whole.

Luther also believed that every person could have a direct relationship with God, so there was little need for Catholic priests or Catholic rituals. The printing press made such a direct relationship easier by supplying Bibles in local languages, not just in Latin. People could now read the Bible for themselves. Luther’s attempt to reform the Catholic church is called the Protestant Reformation. His protest led to the establishment of Protestant churches, a new branch of Christianity. The Reformation not only fractured the church, it opened minds to new ways of thinking. If it was now possible to question the sacred teachings of mother church, it might also be possible to question other long-held beliefs about science, politics, and society.

reform = to improve something; to change it for the better.

Protestant Reformation = a religious movement in the 1500s that began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ultimately resulted in the creation of hundreds of new Protestant Churches; the breakaway religious movement sparked by Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Chapel in Germany in 1517.

Protestant = describes a person or a church that does not believe that the pope in Rome is the highest authority on matters of Christian faith or practice. Baptists, Methodists, Evangelicals, Presbyterians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.—these are all Protestant denominations.