• Reformation, a great religious movement in 16th century Catholic Europe, led to the emergence of new Christian sect – Protestants.
• There were many causes of Reformation, one of which included unethical practices of the Pope and higher clergy. They lived luxurious lives, extorted money from people, ran gambling houses, maintained mistresses, and sold dispensations to exempt people from certain Church laws.
• An immediate cause was sale of indulgences, which was done to accumulate money to construct St. Peter’s Basilica. There was also an intellectual gap, as clergymen often preached in Latin, which the masses could not understand.
• The Church also faced resentment of the rulers. One of them, Henry VIII of England set up an independent church, called ‘Anglican Church’. Later, Queen Elizabeth I helped Protestantism to hold grip in England.
• Renaissance encouraged sprit of enquiry, which encouraged people to think rationally and scientifically, while simultaneously questioning Church authority.
• Invention of Printing Press led to publication of Bible in local languages, due to which people understood Bible’s original teachings and thought independently.
• Corruption of the Church, as exemplified by vulgar salesmanship, prompted Martin Luther, a pious clergyman, to revolt against it.
• In 1517 AD, Luther nailed his protests, to the door of the Wittenberg Church, known as ‘The Ninety-Five Theses.’ He questioned Papal authority and relevance, for which he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X.
• John Calvin, a French Protestant reformer in Switzerland, declared Bible as sole means to salvation. He published his treatise, ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion’.
• As governor of Geneva, Calvin enforced his puritanical ideas, one which included execution of humanist theologian, Michael Servetus. His idea, called Calvinism, was preached by Huguenots (France), Puritans (England) and Presbyterians (Scotland).
• Threat of Protestantism led to Counter-Reformation, under which Church decided to purify itself. Under Pope Paul III, Council of Trent (1545) was convened.
• The Council abolished sale of indulgences and recognized official version of Bible – Latin Vulgate (Latin version). It also published an index of Forbidden Books, which included translated works of Calvin and Luther.
• Ignatius Loyola started Society of Jesus. His followers – Jesuits –preached Christianity in Americas and Asia. One of his followers – St. Francis – established Christianity in India, Malay Archipelago and Japan.
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