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Nepotism refers to the appointment of one's family members to positions within an organization. In the years before the Reformation, nepotism in the Catholic Church was particularly egregious, with Popes commonly naming nephews and illegitimate children as bishops or cardinals.


What priestly conduct seemed particularly egregious to critics of the Catholic Church during the 15th century?

Critics condemned the keeping of concubines, which was common for priests during the 15th century. Sexual licentiousness prevailed throughout the Catholic Church. Many priests traded the absolution of sins for sexual favors from female parishioners, and even Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) was known to attend the occasional orgy.



To raise money to build St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Leo X (1475-1521) authorized the sale of indulgences.

The purchase of an indulgence allowed a person to shorten their (or a deceased loved one's) time in purgatory, and in some cases forgave sins before they were committed.


What event signaled the beginning of the Protestant Reformation?

On October 31, 1517,  Martin Luther, a priest and professor of theology, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of a Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Outraged that church members were forced to pay for the forgiveness that was a free gift from God, Luther's 95 Theses sharply criticized the practice of selling indulgences. The Theses were 95 questions designed to provoke debate within the Catholic Church.


What ensured the rapid dissemination of Luther's 95 Theses?

The printing press allowed for the easy distribution of Luther's 95 Theses throughout Germany. Although Luther insisted that indulgences were errant since only God could forgive sin, he did not intend to break from the Catholic Church, but merely to start a scholarly debate on the subject of indulgences.


How did the Papacy respond to Luther's 95 Theses?

The Papacy dispatched theologian John Eck who debated Luther at Leipzig, Germany in 1519. During the debate, Luther contended that the Pope was neither infallible nor did he have the exclusive right to interpret Scripture.


After Luther challenged the Pope's authority in 1519, how did Pope Leo X react?

In 1520, the Pope sent a papal bull (an edict) demanding that Luther recant his statements or risk excommunication. Luther burned the bull, and in 1521 the Pope excommunicated him.


Although not a Lutheran, Prince _____ _____ of Saxony was Luther's chief protector.

Frederick III 

Following his excommunication, both Papal authorities and those of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V attempted to imprison Luther. 


What was the Diet of Worms (1521)?

At the Diet of Worms, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who had the power to execute Luther for heresy, called upon Luther to renounce his beliefs. Luther refused to do so and was condemned to banishment by Charles V.

Prince Frederick III rescued Luther once more and hid him in Wartburg Castle, where Luther began working on a German version of the Bible.


How did Luther's view on salvation differ from that of the Catholic Church?

Luther viewed salvation as stemming from faith alone, as opposed to the Catholic belief that taking the seven sacraments and good works would lead to salvation. Thus, Luther's views stood directly against those of the Pope and the Catholic Church.


How was Luther's view of scriptural authority different from that of the Catholic Church?

Luther contended that the Bible was the sole means of knowing God's will. The Catholic Church believed that both the Bible and the Pope communicated God's will towards man.

By denying the power of the Pope, Luther challenged the authority of the Catholic Church itself.


Priesthood of All Believers

Priesthood of All Believers is a term popularized by Martin Luther, and holds that all believers are priests in God's eyes. Luther's concept struck at the power of priests, bishops, cardinals, and Popes, whom the Catholic Church posited needed to intercede with God on man's behalf.


What attracted many of the rulers of the North German states of the Holy Roman Empire to Luther's teachings?

Although Luther's teachings were attractive in their own right, Lutheranism also gave many of the North German rulers the opportunity to seize Church lands, significantly adding to their holdings.

Denmark and Sweden also became Lutheran, while many of the South German states remained in the Catholic camp. 


Why didn't the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V suppress Lutheranism?

Charles V was a staunch Catholic and disapproved of Lutheranism. While Lutheranism was rising in the North German states under his control in the 1520s, he was also fighting a war against the Turks from his Austrian possessions, and his Spanish troops were involved in a war against the French and their allies in Italy.

By the time Charles V was able to turn his attention to German affairs, Lutheranism had already gained an insurmountable foothold.


How did Martin Luther's doctrines lead to the German Peasants' Revolt of 1524-1525? 

Luther's doctrine of the primacy of Scripture in interpreting God's will was used by peasants to justify revolting against any social construct that ran counter to Godly law. Amongst other things, the peasants sought an end to serfdom and a limitation on labor due to nobles.

As an example of rebellion against both the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, the two most powerful authorities of the era, Luther himself also provided inspiration.


What was Martin Luther's reaction to the German Peasants' Revolt of 1524-1525?

Luther was not amused. In his polemic Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants, Luther condemned the revolt and urged the princes to do whatever was necessary to suppress the revolt. Both Catholic and Lutheran princes joined together to do so, and nearly 100,000 peasants were slaughtered.


How did Luther view the role of secular monarchs?

Having contended that the Pope had no jurisdiction over Christians, Luther argued that the authority to regulate the rights of Christians belonged to secular rulers, such as princes and kings.

Luther contended that monarchs are divinely appointed; thus, to disobey a monarch was to disobey God himself. Luther's arguments would be used by both Catholic and Protestant rulers to justify the "divine right of kings" in absolutist states.


How did the term "Protestant" originate?

At a 1529 meeting of the member states of the Holy Roman Empire, the Emperor's representative demanded that those princes who'd seized church lands return them to the Pope, and swear allegiance to the Catholic Church.

Delegates from the Lutheran states contended that secular authorities had no prerogative on matters of faith, and protested the Emperor's order. They were termed "Protestant" and Protestantism had begun.


Holy Roman Emperor Charles V made one final attempt to reconcile Catholicism and Lutheranism, calling an Imperial Diet at Augsburg in 1530 and demanding that the leading Lutherans present a written summary of their beliefs. What is this summary called?

This summary is known as the Augsburg Confession, and was drafted by Philipp Melanchthon, one of Luther's followers.

The Confession became one of the core documents of Lutheranism, and with the aid of the printing press was distributed widely in both Latin and German.

Charles V died in 1558, having failed to reconcile Catholicism and Lutheranism.


What Protestant military alliance was formed for mutual protection against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's attempts to attack?

Many of the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire concluded a mutual defense pact in 1531, known as the Schmalkaldic League. Membership was open to any monarch who signed the Augsburg Confession.

Until 1546, Charles V left the League largely alone, as he was preoccupied by wars against the Ottoman Turks and the French.

The League's name comes from the German town of Schmalkalden.


Although Catholic, France's Valois leaders supported the Schmalkaldic League. Why?

Hapsburg lands surrounded France; Spain to the south, the Netherlands to the north, and the Holy Roman Empire to the east. 

By aiding the Schmalkaldic League, France's Valois dynasty encouraged German disunity and prevented the encirclement of France by Hapsburg lands.


What were the results of the Schmalkaldic War (1546-1547)?

In 1546, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V went to war with the Schmalkaldic League, composed of Protestant states. Although Charles V was successful on the battlefield, Protestantism was too firmly established in North Germany to be suppressed by force.

In 1555, the two sides agreed to the Peace of Augsburg, which allowed the princes of the Empire to select either Lutheranism or Catholicism as the religion for their domains.


In 1555, after 27 years on the throne, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V abdicated. Whom did he name as his successor(s)?

Charles V permanently divided the Hapsburg domains. His brother Ferdinand I (1503-1564) was named Holy Roman Emperor and given direct control of the dynastic Hapsburg lands in Austria. Charles V's son Philip II (1527-1598) inherited the rest of the Empire, including Spain and its colonies in the New World, the Netherlands, and territories in Italy.  


Who was Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)?

Zwingli was the founder of the Swiss Reformation. Zwingli was a Swiss humanist and pastor, who developed an independent form of Protestantism through the influence of Luther and Erasmus. While both Luther and Zwingli emphasized the primacy of Scripture and many other beliefs, the parties could not reconcile their differences on the meaning of the Eucharist.


Who followed Luther as the dominant figure of the Protestant Reformation?

John Calvin (1509-1564), a French humanist exiled to Geneva, followed Luther as the leader of the Protestant Reformation. Calvin preached predestination, contending that an omniscient God knew in advance who was going to heaven and hell.

Calvin established a theocracy in Geneva, which became home to Protestant exiles from Scotland, the Netherlands, France, and England. Upon their return to their home countries, these exiles brought Calvin's teachings with them. 


What is the most important difference between Lutheranism and Calvinism?

While both Lutheranism and Calvinism share a belief in justification by faith alone, they differ on the concept of predestination. Lutheranism contends that anyone may attain salvation through faith alone, while Calvinism contends that only those predestined by God will be saved.


Which religious leader founded Presbyterianism?

Presbyterianism was founded by John Knox (1514-1572), a Scot who had studied with John Calvin in Geneva. Knox founded the Calvinist church in Scotland and instituted presbyters (meetings of church elders) to govern the Church. During the late 1500s, Calvinsim became the dominant Scottish religion.



Huguenots were French Calvinists. In France, Calvinism appealed to merchants, the middle and high bourgeoisie, and artisans, and was a decidedly urban movement. By 1559, there were enough Huguenots to hold a national synod, although such an act was illegal under French law.


Who were the Anabaptists?

The Anabaptists were a radical Protestant sect that rejected infant baptism, the concept of the Trinity, and supported polygamy.

In 1534, Anabaptists under John of Leyden seized the town of Münster, burned every book but the Bible and killed some local Lutherans. Catholic and Protestant princes united to retake Münster and killed the Anabaptist leadership.


Why did the English King Henry VIII (1491-1547) want a divorce from Catherine of Aragon?

Although she'd given birth to a daughter, Henry VIII was convinced that Catherine's failure to provide him a male heir was the result of their marriage, and sought a divorce from the Pope in the hope that he could marry a woman who would provide him a son.