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Chapter 11 - The Age of Reformation

Chapter 11 - The Age of Reformation

  • An indulgence was a reduction of the temporal punishment imposed on penitents as a "work of satisfaction" for their admitted deadly sins by priests. According to medieval theology, even if a priest acquitted a penitent of guilt for sin, the penitent nevertheless bore an eternal penalty, a justly imposed retribution by God.

  • Priestly absolution, on the other hand, was supposed to reduce this everlasting punishment into a doable "task of satisfaction" that a penitent may undertake here and now through prayers, fasting, almsgiving, retreats, and/or pilgrimages.

  • Penitents who failed to complete these necessary deeds of satisfaction may expect to languish in purgatory for an infinite amount of time before joining heaven.

  • Indulgences were initially granted to Crusaders who were unable to finish their penances due to illness.

  • Purgatory is reserved for those who have failed to perform their penances or have not repented of their crimes. Pope Clement VI (r. 1342–1352) declared in 1343 the existence of a "treasury of merit," a limitless reservoir of good acts in the property of the church that might be dispersed at the pope's discretion. The church offered "letters of indulgence" based on this mythical treasure, which made good on the deeds of satisfaction owing by penitents. Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471–1484) granted indulgences for the unrepented sins of all Christians in purgatory in 1476.

  • By Luther's day, indulgences were frequently granted in exchange for minor monetary donations, which were viewed as a good act of almsgiving. Indulgence preachers portrayed them to the people as absolving not only their own future penalties, but also the punishments of those who had died.

  • The image attached shows a contemporary caricature depicts John Tetzel, the famous indulgence preacher. The last lines of the jingle read, “As soon as gold in the basin rings, right then the soul to Heaven springs.” It was Tetzel’s preaching that spurred Luther to publish his ninety-five theses.

  • Nuremberg humanists welcomed the 95 theses, which they translated and widely disseminated.

  • As a result, Luther became a key character in an already structured national German cultural movement against foreign influence and competition, notably from the Italians. In October, he was called before the Dominican order's general in Augsburg to explain for his criticism of the church. However, just as penalties were being planned against him, Emperor Maximilian I died (January 12, 1519), which was a good occurrence for the nascent Reformation since it diverted attention away from heresy in Saxony and toward the election of a new emperor.

  • The pope supported the French king, Francis I, in that election. However, at the age of nineteen, Charles I of Spain succeeded his grandpa as Emperor.

  • The Reformation went from the free hands of theologians and pamphleteers to the firmer hands of magistrates and rulers in the late 1520s and 1530s. The latter rapidly enforced significant religious changes in several places. Many monarchs had spent decades working to bring about fundamental church changes, and they welcomed Lutheran preachers as fresh partners. Reform had progressed from simple rhetoric to regulations that all residents had to follow.

  • The elector of Saxony and the prince of Hesse, the two most prominent Protestant monarchs in Germany, were instrumental in politicizing religious reform inside their respective kingdoms. The German princes, like the urban magistrates, saw the political and economic opportunities presented by the Roman Catholic Church's decline in their country.

  • The Reformation suffered more from internal strife than from imperial intervention in its first decade. By 1525, Luther had become almost as much of a target in Germany as the pope. Wittenberg's original supporters, admirers, and fellow travelers increasingly announced their freedom.

  • The German peasantry, like the German humanists, first saw Luther as an ally.

  • Since the late fourteenth century, the peasantry has fought against its secular and religious rulers' attempts to overturn their customary laws and traditions and subject them to new territorial rules and taxes. Peasant leaders, some of whom were Lutherans, recognized in Luther's doctrine on Christian freedom and his critique of monastic landlords a point of view that was similar to their own.

  • Luther's support for their ostensibly "Christian" political and economic rights, including a revolutionary demand for serfdom's abolition.

  • Luther first sympathized with the peasants, criticizing the princes' oppression and pushing them to heed the peasants' fair requests.

  • Karsthans (Hans with a hoe), the burly, hardworking peasant who earned his food by the sweat of his brow, became a symbol of the honest existence God desired for all people, according to Lutheran pamphleteers.

  • Switzerland was a loose confederation comprising thirteen independent cantons, or states, and their surrounding territory. (See Figure 11–2.) Some cantons turned Protestant, while others stayed Catholic, while a few others reached an agreement.

  • The Swiss Reformation was predicated on two major factors. The first was the rise of national emotion as a result of public hostility to foreign mercenary service. (Providing mercenaries to Europe's warring states was a key source of income for Switzerland.) Second, there existed a yearning for church reform in Switzerland that had remained since the councils of Constance (1414–1417) and Basel (1431–1449).

  • The Lutherans, on the other hand, were not social revolutionaries, and they saw little possibility for their cause if it became entwined with a peasant revolt. When peasants rose against their landlords in 1524–1525, claiming Luther's name, Luther denounced them as "un-Christian" and encouraged the princes to quash the insurrection.

  • Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531), the pioneer of the Swiss Reformation, was a humanist. He attributed Erasmus, rather than Luther, for putting him on the path to change. In 1515, he served as a chaplain with Swiss mercenaries on the losing side at the tragic Battle of Marignano in Italy.

  • Following that, he became an ardent opponent of Swiss mercenary service, claiming it jeopardized both the Swiss confederacy's political autonomy and moral fiber. Zwingli was likewise well-known by 1518 for his resistance to the sale of indulgences and religious superstition.

  • At 1519, he ran for the position of people's priest in Zurich's main church. His candidacy was first called into question because he admitted to fornicating with a barber's daughter.

  • Zwingli oversaw the Swiss Reformation from his new position as people's priest in Zurich. In March 1522, he took part in the breaking of the Lenten fast, which was then a form of protest equivalent to burning one's national flag today.

  • Zwingli's reform guideline was straightforward and effective: anything did not have literal grounding in Scripture should not be believed or performed. That test, like Luther's, quickly generated issues about such revered conventional ideas and practices as fasting, transubstantiation, saint worship, pilgrimages, purgatory, clerical celibacy, and certain sacraments.

  • On January 29, 1523, a debate ended with the municipal administration endorsing Zwingli's Scripture test. (See "Zwingli's List of Roman Church Errors," page 326.) Following it, Zurich became the financial capital of the world.

  • The image attached above shows A Catholic Representation of Martin Luther Tempting Christ (1547). The pope was frequently represented as the Antichrist or the devil in Reformation propaganda. Here, Catholic propaganda turns the tables on Protestant reformers by depicting Martin Luther as the devil (notice the monster feet and tail hidden behind his academic robes).

  • Re-enacting the biblical story of Christ being tempted by the devil in the desert, the figure of Luther begs Christ to turn stone into bread, to which Christ answers by noting that people do not subsist only on bread.

FA

Chapter 11 - The Age of Reformation

Chapter 11 - The Age of Reformation

  • An indulgence was a reduction of the temporal punishment imposed on penitents as a "work of satisfaction" for their admitted deadly sins by priests. According to medieval theology, even if a priest acquitted a penitent of guilt for sin, the penitent nevertheless bore an eternal penalty, a justly imposed retribution by God.

  • Priestly absolution, on the other hand, was supposed to reduce this everlasting punishment into a doable "task of satisfaction" that a penitent may undertake here and now through prayers, fasting, almsgiving, retreats, and/or pilgrimages.

  • Penitents who failed to complete these necessary deeds of satisfaction may expect to languish in purgatory for an infinite amount of time before joining heaven.

  • Indulgences were initially granted to Crusaders who were unable to finish their penances due to illness.

  • Purgatory is reserved for those who have failed to perform their penances or have not repented of their crimes. Pope Clement VI (r. 1342–1352) declared in 1343 the existence of a "treasury of merit," a limitless reservoir of good acts in the property of the church that might be dispersed at the pope's discretion. The church offered "letters of indulgence" based on this mythical treasure, which made good on the deeds of satisfaction owing by penitents. Pope Sixtus IV (r. 1471–1484) granted indulgences for the unrepented sins of all Christians in purgatory in 1476.

  • By Luther's day, indulgences were frequently granted in exchange for minor monetary donations, which were viewed as a good act of almsgiving. Indulgence preachers portrayed them to the people as absolving not only their own future penalties, but also the punishments of those who had died.

  • The image attached shows a contemporary caricature depicts John Tetzel, the famous indulgence preacher. The last lines of the jingle read, “As soon as gold in the basin rings, right then the soul to Heaven springs.” It was Tetzel’s preaching that spurred Luther to publish his ninety-five theses.

  • Nuremberg humanists welcomed the 95 theses, which they translated and widely disseminated.

  • As a result, Luther became a key character in an already structured national German cultural movement against foreign influence and competition, notably from the Italians. In October, he was called before the Dominican order's general in Augsburg to explain for his criticism of the church. However, just as penalties were being planned against him, Emperor Maximilian I died (January 12, 1519), which was a good occurrence for the nascent Reformation since it diverted attention away from heresy in Saxony and toward the election of a new emperor.

  • The pope supported the French king, Francis I, in that election. However, at the age of nineteen, Charles I of Spain succeeded his grandpa as Emperor.

  • The Reformation went from the free hands of theologians and pamphleteers to the firmer hands of magistrates and rulers in the late 1520s and 1530s. The latter rapidly enforced significant religious changes in several places. Many monarchs had spent decades working to bring about fundamental church changes, and they welcomed Lutheran preachers as fresh partners. Reform had progressed from simple rhetoric to regulations that all residents had to follow.

  • The elector of Saxony and the prince of Hesse, the two most prominent Protestant monarchs in Germany, were instrumental in politicizing religious reform inside their respective kingdoms. The German princes, like the urban magistrates, saw the political and economic opportunities presented by the Roman Catholic Church's decline in their country.

  • The Reformation suffered more from internal strife than from imperial intervention in its first decade. By 1525, Luther had become almost as much of a target in Germany as the pope. Wittenberg's original supporters, admirers, and fellow travelers increasingly announced their freedom.

  • The German peasantry, like the German humanists, first saw Luther as an ally.

  • Since the late fourteenth century, the peasantry has fought against its secular and religious rulers' attempts to overturn their customary laws and traditions and subject them to new territorial rules and taxes. Peasant leaders, some of whom were Lutherans, recognized in Luther's doctrine on Christian freedom and his critique of monastic landlords a point of view that was similar to their own.

  • Luther's support for their ostensibly "Christian" political and economic rights, including a revolutionary demand for serfdom's abolition.

  • Luther first sympathized with the peasants, criticizing the princes' oppression and pushing them to heed the peasants' fair requests.

  • Karsthans (Hans with a hoe), the burly, hardworking peasant who earned his food by the sweat of his brow, became a symbol of the honest existence God desired for all people, according to Lutheran pamphleteers.

  • Switzerland was a loose confederation comprising thirteen independent cantons, or states, and their surrounding territory. (See Figure 11–2.) Some cantons turned Protestant, while others stayed Catholic, while a few others reached an agreement.

  • The Swiss Reformation was predicated on two major factors. The first was the rise of national emotion as a result of public hostility to foreign mercenary service. (Providing mercenaries to Europe's warring states was a key source of income for Switzerland.) Second, there existed a yearning for church reform in Switzerland that had remained since the councils of Constance (1414–1417) and Basel (1431–1449).

  • The Lutherans, on the other hand, were not social revolutionaries, and they saw little possibility for their cause if it became entwined with a peasant revolt. When peasants rose against their landlords in 1524–1525, claiming Luther's name, Luther denounced them as "un-Christian" and encouraged the princes to quash the insurrection.

  • Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531), the pioneer of the Swiss Reformation, was a humanist. He attributed Erasmus, rather than Luther, for putting him on the path to change. In 1515, he served as a chaplain with Swiss mercenaries on the losing side at the tragic Battle of Marignano in Italy.

  • Following that, he became an ardent opponent of Swiss mercenary service, claiming it jeopardized both the Swiss confederacy's political autonomy and moral fiber. Zwingli was likewise well-known by 1518 for his resistance to the sale of indulgences and religious superstition.

  • At 1519, he ran for the position of people's priest in Zurich's main church. His candidacy was first called into question because he admitted to fornicating with a barber's daughter.

  • Zwingli oversaw the Swiss Reformation from his new position as people's priest in Zurich. In March 1522, he took part in the breaking of the Lenten fast, which was then a form of protest equivalent to burning one's national flag today.

  • Zwingli's reform guideline was straightforward and effective: anything did not have literal grounding in Scripture should not be believed or performed. That test, like Luther's, quickly generated issues about such revered conventional ideas and practices as fasting, transubstantiation, saint worship, pilgrimages, purgatory, clerical celibacy, and certain sacraments.

  • On January 29, 1523, a debate ended with the municipal administration endorsing Zwingli's Scripture test. (See "Zwingli's List of Roman Church Errors," page 326.) Following it, Zurich became the financial capital of the world.

  • The image attached above shows A Catholic Representation of Martin Luther Tempting Christ (1547). The pope was frequently represented as the Antichrist or the devil in Reformation propaganda. Here, Catholic propaganda turns the tables on Protestant reformers by depicting Martin Luther as the devil (notice the monster feet and tail hidden behind his academic robes).

  • Re-enacting the biblical story of Christ being tempted by the devil in the desert, the figure of Luther begs Christ to turn stone into bread, to which Christ answers by noting that people do not subsist only on bread.