The Protestant Reformation: Background and Martin Luther

I. Background: Late Medieval Piety

A. Shift in devotion from divinity to the humanity of Christ

1. Intense Eucharistic devotional practices

B. Emphasis on voluntary poverty

1. Increase in lay piety

2. Groups like the Waldensians, Franciscans, Beguines

3. Critiques of the wealth of the Church

II. Background: The Late Medieval Church and governments

A. New state governments increased persecution of religious dissent

1. France: the Cathars

a. Albigensian Crusade: 1220s

b. Tool to bring southern France into the sphere of the northern French monarchy

c. New weapon: the Inquisition

2. Spain: the expulsion of Muslims and Jews (1300s - 1492)

a. Attempt to create unified society

b. Inquistion targets converted "lapsed" Jews (conversos)

3. England: persecution of the Lollards

a. Followers of John Wyclif (d. 1384)

b. Translated Bible into English

c. Rejection of transubstantiation as historically unsound

d. Against monks and rich clergy

e. Denied supremacy of the pope

4. Wars of the Roses (14th c.)

a. Lancastrians needed church as political ally

b. Lollardy associated with proletarian movement

c. Church reform equated with political dissent

d. Religious unity as tool of government

e. Reformation occurred when, during a period of political disunity, one powerful group sees severance with the church as a political tool

B. Church leadership

1. Church had always allied with particular governments

2. Bishops held fiefs, waged war

3. Papcy tainted by schisms and movement away from Rome, 1878-1415

4. Universal ideal contrasts with particular national governments

5. During the Hundred Years War, papacy a tool of French government against the English

6. Conciliar movement questioned papal leadership

III. The Late Medieval Church Papacy

A. The Renaissance Papacy (1400s)

1. Innocent VIII (1484-1492) -- bought the papacy outright

a. gave church posts to his illegitimate children

2. Alexander VI (1492 - 1503) --the Borgia pope

a. Daughter Lucretia married to a series of princes, who all mysteriously died

b. Son Cesare spent Church money to hire army and become a Renaissance prince

3. Leo X (1513-1523): son of Lorenzo di Medici

4. Sale of church offices, especially sale of indulgences

IV. Martin Luther

A. As a monk, disgusted with practice of selling indulgences

1. Protest begins against church wealth and corruption

B. 1517: 95 Theses (in Latin)

1. Church demands that he retract them

2. Summoned to appear before imperial Diet in Augsburg

3. Radicalized Luther into outright opposition

C. Radical attack on sacramental system

1. By Faith Alone

a. Good works will not save you -- yours or someone else's

b. Attack on treasury of merits system (saints, relics)

c. Sacraments reduced from 7 to 2

d. Eucharist regarded as "real presence" but not exactly transubstantiation

e. Hence no need for a priest

2. Priesthood of All Believers

a. No need for intermediaries between believers and God

3. Sola Scriptura

a. Scripture the only authority, not popes or councils

D. Excommunicated and outlawed

1. Protected by local prince

2. Northern princes see a chance to break free of southern-based Hapsburg Empire

3. Reformation becomes political movement

4. Peace of Augsburg 1555 allows princes to select the religion of their region

E. Peasants' War 1524

1. Luther turns against them

2. Peasants' Twelve Articles