Article

The Reformation

Hans Hillerbrand and Wladyslaw Roczniak

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0058
The Reformation

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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The Reformation of the 16th century, sometimes known as “Protestant Reformation” in order to distinguish it from a Catholic “Reformation,” was a pan-European movement that called for reform of the Roman Catholic Church as well as the entirety of Christian society. For many of the reformers, however, more was at issue than mere reform; they called for a fundamental re-conceptualization of theology. The Reformation failed in influencing the Catholic Church. Martin Luther, the early leader of the movement, was excommunicated by the Catholic Church, but defiantly pursued his understanding of the Christian faith. As a result of the Reformation new Protestant churches with distinct theological profiles emerged. Several features have characterized scholarship on the Reformation. For one, the historiography of the Reformation has traditionally tended to followed confessional lines, with Protestant scholars painting a negative picture of the state of the Catholic Church on the eve of the Reformation, and an exuberant picture of the achievements of the reformers. Catholic scholars saw things the other way around. More recently a more judicious treatment, less confessionally oriented, of the religious turbulence of the 16th century has emerged. Also, historians of the Reformation have employed different conceptual frames of reference, particularly regarding the question of the primary factor (religion, politics, personal ambition, economics) of the turbulence. This bibliography considers the broad outlines of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Other entries consider the Reformation in England, France, and the German lands; the Catholic Reformation; the Radical Sects; and key Reformation individuals.

Article.  11980 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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