A religious split that persists to today

The Reformation started as a religious reform movement that arose in the 16th century. It began as a reaction to practices within the Roman Catholic Church that some held to be either unsupported by scriptural teaching or simply corrupt and abuses of authority.

The movement ultimately gave rise to the various Protestant churches. Although earlier movements for church reform had arisen in Europe, the Reformation dates from 1517, when Martin Luther issued his Ninety-five Theses. Other Protestants, such as John Calvin, also spread the movement for reform and then ultimately the establishment of an alternative anti-Catholic church. This was fuelled by religious zeal, by the new spirit of Renaissance humanism, and by social changes arising from the growth of a prospering mercantile class.

Key dates in the history of the Reformation include:

14th cent.  John Wycliffe led an early movement for the reform of the Roman Catholic church.

1414-18   The Council of Constance was an attempt to introduce reforms in the Roman Catholic Church.

1415         John Huss, Bohemian religious reformer, was burned at stake for heresy. His death led to the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in the Holy Roman Empire.

1517         On October 31st Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses at Wittenberg. The Reformation had begun.

1518         In Switzerland, Huldreich Zwingli began a campaign against the sale of indulgences within the church. This led to the growth of Reformation in Swiss cantons.

1519         Luther defended the Protestant doctrine in the famous Leipzig Debate in July.

1520         Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church.

1521         Luther refused to recant after being called before the Diet of Worms.

1522-23    The Knights' War was an unsuccessful rebellion by knights to ensure ancient privileges against the Reformation.

1524-25    The Peasants' War. Luther condemned the violence of peasants' uprising, which was partly inspired by his teachings. The peasants were savagely repressed.

1526         The First Diet of Speyer was convened and it decreed that German princes could embrace Lutheran teachings.

1529         At the Colloquy of Marburg Luther and Philip Melanchthon debated against Johannes Oecolampadius and Huldreich Zwingli on elements of Reformation doctrine.

1529         The Second Diet of Speyer overturned the ruling of the first. Lutheran princes issued a protest against its decrees, thereby becoming known as the Protestants.

1530         The Diet of Augsburg was convened. Melanchthon drew up the Confession of Augsburg, which became the foundation for Lutheranism.

1531         Protestant nobles in the Holy Roman Empire formed the Schmalkaldic League to oppose Emperor Charles V's threats to use force against Lutheranism.

1534         In England, Henry VIII's conflict with the pope over his attempt to divorce Catherine of Aragon (since 1527), came to a climax. He was excommunicated, and he secured the Act of Supremacy, establishing the Church of England. Though Henry maintained the Catholic character of church, later rulers introduced Protestant liturgy.

1536         John Calvin settled in Geneva and issued Institutes of the Christian Religion, the foundation for Calvinism.

1539         Lutheranism in England was suppressed by the Act of Six Articles.

1545       The Council of Trent was convened, marking the beginning of Catholic Reformation. These reforms were introduced to counter rising tide of Protestantism.

1546-47   The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V defeated the Schmalkaldic League in the Schmalkaldic War.

1547-53   Edward VI reigned in England and began the reorganisation of the Church of England into a Protestant church, and in 1547 secured the repeal of the Act of Six Articles and in 1549 issued the Book of Common Prayer.

1555         The Peace of Augsburg provided formula for ending conflict between Catholics and Protestants within the Holy Roman Empire.

      The Synod of French Protestant churches was held in Paris and led to the organisation of Huguenot movement in France.

1560       John Knox secured the establishment of Calvinism in Scotland.

1562-98   French Catholics and Huguenots engaged in a civil war during Wars of Religion.

1598       The French King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes, granting religious freedom to the Huguenots.

1618-48 The Thirty Years' War began as a revolt in Bohemia in the Holy Roman Empire and soon became general European war fought between Protestant and Catholic forces.
                                                                                     John Wycliffe, reformer and
                                                                                 champion of the first English Bible
1648       The Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years' War and established a measure of religious peace in Europe.

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Wycliffe tries reform but loses patience and adds momentum to an anti Catholic Church

Luther nails Thesis to church door

Luther is cut off from the Catholic Church and refuses to recant

The first Protestants

Henry VIII joins the band waggon to his selfish and brutish ends. He creates the Protestant Church of England

Council of Trent: Catholics try to get modern

Edward VI confirms his Father's split from Rome

30 yrs War ends, but the conflict continues today


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