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Thread: Reformation

  1. #1
    For England and St.George Senior Member ShadesWolf's Avatar
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    Default Reformation

    Ok people, time for our next talk.

    this time lets chat about the reformation, just finished a section on my degree talking about it, so what do we all now about it?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Reformation

    Quite a broad topic...

    My broad response would be that although the Reformation was an intense display of religious fervor, in the long run it broke Christianity's hold over Europe. Its influence has been on the decline ever since.

    After all the bloodletting had finished, the end result was a weaker, more pliable Christianity. If a particular king or ruler didn't like the constraints religious leaders were putting on him, he could simply start his own denomination suited to his needs. Religion increasingly became secondary to matters of state - a tool for control, an appeal for popular support, or simply relegated to a personal matter. No longer did you see kings fighting for God in the Middle East or trudging across the Alps barefoot in fear of excommunication. The Catholic Church never regained its power, and the various protestant denominations never really had that much to begin with. This concept of a separation between Church and State has played a big part in the politics of almost all Western nations to one degree or another.
    Last edited by PanzerJaeger; 04-10-2009 at 17:42.

  3. #3
    Ranting madman of the .org Senior Member Fly Shoot Champion, Helicopter Champion, Pedestrian Killer Champion, Sharpshooter Champion, NFS Underground Champion Rhyfelwyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    I think the Reformation greatly strengthened Christianity. It took the power out of the hands of a small church hierarchy, and gave it to the common person (with the help of some social and technological advances). Of course, Christianity has been dieing out ever since the burst of fanaticism in the 16-17th centuries, although the same process would have happened if Europe had remained Catholic.
    At the end of the day politics is just trash compared to the Gospel.

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    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    I think you're both right. On the one hand, the increasinly authoritarian Papacy began to persecute even minor divergences over doctrine, rather than stressing the unity of the Church. On the other hand, the complete loss of control after the Reformation killed any cahnce of moderating Papal control and dispersed a false sense of authority over the general populace.

    Let's be clear, a personal Christianity was important even before the Reformation, and it was available even without literacy. After the Reformation the direction of national Churches shifted from Rome to the more local universities. None of the great "Reformers" were illiterate, all were University educated.

    Te thing they offered most was a popular and more accessable Christiainity, at the cost of fracturing the Church. Though it has to be said that the Papacy's policy of Greater Excomunication made internal reformers like Wyclif, Huss, and Luther into heretics. That led to the second wave who were external heretics from the outset.
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    Formerly: SwedishFish Member KarlXII's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    Agreed with Rhy.

    I'm not quite sure, but I believe the treaty that ended the Thirty Years War allowed the numerous German states to choose their official religion, which I believe was one of the first cases of "freedom of religion" (to a degree) in a previously Papal controlled Europe.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Reformation

    I am more interested in the political situation. While the Reformation certainly strengthened personal faith for a time, it showed the limits of the Church's power. Had Papal forces been able to reestablish control over the entirety of Europe again, the "inevitable" decline of Christianity as a controlling influence in the politics and actions of European nations may have been delayed for centuries or never happened. (Take note of the current situation in the Muslim world.) Even those nations and leaders that remained loyal to the Church were able to realize a far greater level of independence than they had before. The Protestant denominations never were able to assert such influence, either by their own choice or their reliance on friendly princes and kings for protection.

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    Spirit King Senior Member seireikhaan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    It depends on what aspects of the reformation you want to talk about- theologically, religion became both more and less of a state issue. On the one hand, states were no longer bound by the Papacy as they were previously; however, the conflicts regarding each prince and duke's religion would be the impetus for the 30 years war, possibly the most important war in european history.

    Politically, the reformation wreaked havoc upon the authority of the Hapsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire. It was perhaps the only impetus with the inherent ability to cease Hapsburg dominion under Charles V. Even then, if not for the Ottoman Empire's advances into Hungary and Austria, Charles may have still been able to keep it under heel for a while longer, politically. The inability of Charles to subdue rebellious protestant kingdoms proved irrevocably damaging for the Empire- the split between the protestant north and Catholic south, along with long simmering tensions in Bohemia, proved plenty to spark the 30 years war 100 years later. The 30 years war proved the ultimate end of Papal secular authority- for the first time in memory, neither the Pope or a papal legate would preside over major peace talks. And when the Pope condemmned the Peace of Westphalia for being heretical, he was blithely ignored.

    Of course, religion still played an important role from this point on, particulalry in the English civil war, and Louis XIV's Edict of Fontainblue, but it seemed much more about public stability and less about actual salvation of the masses.
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    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Post Re: Reformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinseikhaan View Post
    but it seemed much more about public stability and less about actual salvation of the masses.
    I'll second this, and also add that many who chose to practice a religion other than Catholocism usually did so for political reasons, i.e. with the goal of attaining a larger degree of political independance.

    Let's check out the Huegenot and Catholic rivalry in the French Wars of Religion, for example. They saw Catherine de'Medici's position as Regent with her sickly, quickly-dying sons as kings as an opportunity to become powers behind the throne. The nobility had a much high proportion of Huegenots than the lower classes did, and both the Catholic and Huegenot nobles fought for the power behind the throne. Earlier, the Huegenot Henri of Navarre was arranged to marry the daughter of Catherine de'Medici. When the Catholic Henri III (he was the last living son of Catherine de'Medici) became king after the death of his sickly brother, he had no choice but to name his brother-in-law, Henri of of Navarre, as his heir.

    Many radical Catholics, primarily the Duke of Guise, were upset with this arrangement of a Huegenot heir, not only for religious purposes, but also because it would upset the high level of power they(especially the Duke of Guise) would have in the future under a Huegenot king. In the ensuing War of the Three Henri's, the Duke was assasinated by the king, who hated the domination the Duke had over him. King Henri III himself was later assasinated by a fanatical monk who considered him a traitor.

    This left Henri of Navarre, the heir, to take the throne as Henri IV. As I previously stated, there was a much larger proportion of Catholic peasants than there were Catholic nobles, and they wouldn't accept a non-Catholic king in Paris.

    In one of my favourite quotes of all time, Henri stated, "Paris is worth a mass," and converted to Catholocism to rule his largely-Catholic country from Paris. That should plainly show that he was only Huegenot in order to break the power of the Catholic nobles who already wielded a lot of power, and once he found himself with a clear opportunity to take that power, he grabbed it, even if it meant changing religions.

    He became a popular king, who had an unusual reputation as a religiously tolerant ruler, as demonstrated by his Edict of Nantes. I guess he was just sick of civil strife and wanted a stable reign.

  9. #9
    Ranting madman of the .org Senior Member Fly Shoot Champion, Helicopter Champion, Pedestrian Killer Champion, Sharpshooter Champion, NFS Underground Champion Rhyfelwyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinseikhaan View Post
    but it seemed much more about public stability and less about actual salvation of the masses.
    Meth was right on your French example, but I must disagree with this being true also of the English Civil War (or more appropriately, the British Wars of Religion).

    Cromwell and the Parliamentarians were no doubt motivated by religious reasons, rather than a desire to keep peace. If anything, they were much too idealistic, and in the end that is what led to the collapse of the Commonwealth. The whole story of the British Wars of religion is one of the people attempting to save religion from the corruption of the landed interests, who thought religion was just a method of state control. As James I said in the Basilikon Doron, there's "no king without the bishops". The Catholic and Anglican churches had always served to uphold the monarchy, with such notions as the "divine right of kings" all being very unbiblical. It was King Charle's attempts through Archbishop Laud to force the Anglican 'Book of Common Prayer' upon the Presbyterian Scots that led to the outbreak of the conflict. The Scots were so angered at this attempt by Archbishop Laud to promote Arminianism over their Calvinist views, that they signed the 1638 National Covenant and invaded Newcastle. The motivation is purely religious, it is hardly bringing stability!

    Of course, Charles wanted to raise an army to fight the Scots, but to do so he required the permission of Parliament. At this time, while the top nobles remained Anglo-Catholic, Puritanism was becoming popular amongst the lower gentry and the common townsfolk. By the time of the Scots invasion of 1640, there was a Puritan majority in Parliament. Like the Scottish Presbyterians, the Puritans were Calvinistic and although they organised their churches in a different way to the Presbyterians, they shared an opposition to the hierarchy of the established Anglican Church. So, the Puritans refused to fight their Presbyterian brothers to the north. Crippled for a time, the English could do little to stop the Scots rampaging across the north. For Parliament and the King, the breaking point came in 1641 with the massacre of thousands of Ulster Protestants, a combination of English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, at the hands of Catholic rebels. Of course, both King and Parliament wished to put this rebellion down, however Parliament did not trust the King to raise an army, fearing it would be turned against them. So, in 1642 the English Civil War began, with the Scots fighting alongside the Parliamentarian forces. After the formation of the English New Model army in 1645, they were able to comfortably defeat the King after a few relatively small battles.

    The negotiations after this conflict are when you can really see how important the "salvation of the masses" was compared to "public stablity". At first, Cromwell and Ireton, negotiating for Parliament, has said they would accept an established church with an Episcoplian polity like that of the Anglicans, if the power of the Bishops would be significantly weakened. Being stubborn and filled with absolutist ideas from his father, Charles refused to accept despite his obviously precarious position. As these negotiations went on, Charles was fostering some sneaky alliances, which would lead to the outbreak of war once again in 1648.

    By 1648, Charles had secured an alliance with the 'Engagers'. Led by the Duke of Hamilton, they betrayed the National Covenant and the rest of their Scottish counterparts, supporting the King if he would implement Prebyterianism across the three kingdoms for a period of at least three years. A similar divide could be seen in the English Parliament, as the 'Political Presbyterians' supported the return of the King with limited powers, whereas the more radical Independents such as Cromwell were vehemently opposed to the idea of monarchy by this stage. So, the Second Civil War began in 1648. Since the New Model Army was filled with radical Independents, under Cromwell it crushed the Engagers at Dunbar. Meanwhile, in Scotland the radical Covenanting faction which would become known as the Whigs (yes, those Whigs) took power in Scotland after the Whiggamore raid in 1650. They handed the King over to Cromwell, who had him executed in 1649, and the Second Civil War was over.

    Here, again people put religious principles over temporal concerns. Many of the Puritans were from the lower skilled segments of society. Without political stability, they were missing out on all that the colonies had to offer, as well as the trade restrictions placed on them by the monarchical powers on the continent. It would have been to their advantage to compromise with the king, but they stuck to their principles (and to be fair, Charles I stuck to his too, until his death). Even Cromwell and the radicals, despite being congregationalists, had been willing to accept an established Presbyterian church, so long as the sects such as Baptists and Quakers would be tolerated.

    It is because of the coming events that Cromwell would become portrayed as a tyrant, and military dictator. The Independents remained dominant in the New Model Army, however the Political Presbyterians became dominant in the Parliament. Sadly, temporal interests, often commerce-related, were starting to infringe upon the Puritan ideals on the political scene. Parliament allowed for the Anglo-Dutch war to take place, much to Cromwell's disgust at fighting the only Calvinist nation on the continent. Also, Political Presbyterian officers (not to be confused with the Scottish Prebyterians who continued to support Cromwell!) began to purge non-conformists from any positions of influence, especially Anabaptists with the reputation they gained after the Jan of Leyden farce. Of course, such actions were in complete contrast to the 'Westminster Confession of Faith', the document which secured religious freedom for all those who practice the Reformed (Calvinist) faith, and which was used by both English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians. So, with Parliament betraying the Commonwealth principles, Cromwell and the radical New Model Army stepped in to abolish it. This made him unpopular with many, but he put his beliefs before his self-interest. It is because of this that Cromwell is portrayed as a tyrant today, although I think he did what was right.

    Now we come to the other events which have led to Cromwell being hated nowadays. In 1649, his troops invaded Ireland. There were no battles to fight in Britain for the moment, and so Cromwell, being a soldier, put the New Model Army to use. In part, they were looking to restore order after the massacres of 1641, but crucially Charles I's exiled son, Charles II, had led a revolt in Ireland, with the support of the Anglo-Catholic royalists, and the Irish Catholic peasantry. So, Cromwell invaded Ireland and won a string of battles. There were many atrocities on both sides, although Cromwell never gave the orders to kill an innocent civilain (of the supposed massacre in Drogheda claimed by Irihs nationalist historians, they tend not to mention that of the thousands killed, they were all either soldiers or priests/tonwsfolk who had armed themselves).

    While he was crushing the Irish, tensions were boiling over on the English/Scottish border. Despite being Cromwell's allies, the Scots were increasingly concerned at what they thought to be the 'sectarian' society emerging in England, with Baptist and Quaker sects living in isolation instead of working together in a Godly Republic. Similarly, these sects were uncofomfortable with the Scottish Kirk, believing it to be exercising a little more power over people's religious freedoms that it should. Sadly, the Scotland had remained unstable ever since the Whiggamore Raid, and so the disillusioned factions within the General Assembly accepted Charles II as King. Disturbed by this turn of events, Cromwell and the New Model Army returned across the sea to put down the traitors. At fist, the Kirk and the Parliamentarians fought a propaganda war. It was a bizarre conflict, with both sets of pamphlets appealing to the elect on both sides (since they did share a faith, unlike with the heretical Irish), and relating to the understanding of the 1643 Solemn League and Covenant, the document which sealed the Scottish alliance with Parliament. Despite their victory at Dunbar and Cromwell's hope that the Whigs would support him, they still believed in the return of a limited monarchy, and so Cromwell was forced to invade. It was tragic this conflict had to take place. Indeed, Fairfax and other leaders in the New Model Army chose to resign rather than fight their Calvinist brothers, and decision which Cromwell respected. The English troops actually got on very well with the common Scottish folk, especially with the radicals in the south who were disgusted at the Kirk's support for Charles II.

    While Cromwell had secured peace for the time being, it was not to last. The Godly Republic was damaging trade and the relations with the continental powers. For the state to be recognised as legitimate, the monarchs would have to return. With unrest in England, Scotland, and espeically Ireland, the New Model Army struggled to keep order in all places at all times. As an experienced soldier, Oliver Cromwell held it together until his death. However, his son Richard, despite being an honest man, was a less able leader, and so under General Monk Charles II was restored to power in 1660.

    Cromwell could have made the Commonwealth last if he just wanted to keep the peace, but he stuck to his principles, and the Godly Commonwealth he envisaged was just too good for a fallen world.
    Last edited by Rhyfelwyr; 04-13-2009 at 13:32.
    At the end of the day politics is just trash compared to the Gospel.

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    Banned ELITEofWARMANGINGERYBREADMEN88's Avatar
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    Default Re: Reformation

    I think in the short term, it would have broken up everyone even more, but in the long run, I think it would have strengthen the Church.




    In the short term, it's easy to see why with the Catholic Church kill off all the Protestants and vice versa.

  11. #11
    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Post Re: Reformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Shinseikhaan View Post
    It depends on what aspects of the reformation you want to talk about- theologically, religion became both more and less of a state issue. On the one hand, states were no longer bound by the Papacy as they were previously; however, the conflicts regarding each prince and duke's religion would be the impetus for the 30 years war, possibly the most important war in european history.
    That 30 Years War was a funny one. In a brief reinforcement of my previous point, many of the major contestants weren't actually fighting solely for religion, but were rather using it as a rallying cry. Check out France, for a quick example. They didn't want to be hemmed in by Habsburghs, and certainly didn't enjoy Spanish troops marching by their frontiers in the Spanish Road, so they allied with Lutheran Sweden and fought against their own Catholic brethren in an attempt to prevent their fears from being realized.

    Sweden itself, meanwhile, probably was more believable with its Lutheran cry. However, Sweden was a rising power, had the most modern army at the time (a nice combo of professional Swedish conscripts and the latest linear tactics, backed up by mercs), with Gustavus seeking to create a sort of glorious Baltic empire. The 30 Years War, then, could be seen, from that perspective, as a golden opportunity; if it meant they would look like saviours to the Protestant cause, then all the better.

    Many other nations had their own political agenda mixed in with their (false?) religious motivations. Even the devout Spain had some political reasons, that is to further isolate the Netherlands in an ocean of Catholic powers and to leave their Spanish Road clear and passable.

    @Rhyfelwyr the Welshman:

    Hey, thx for the enlightenment! I never knew much about Cromwell's history, so it was a good read.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Reformation

    Nice summary of the situation in France a few posts ago, Methuselah. But don't forget the Camisard rebellion. The Huguenots of the Cevennes region had been persecuted for about 20 years - torture, exile, execution, massacres, people sent to work as galley slaves. The decision of these people to remain Protestant in spite of all the king could do to them simply makes no sense if you are thinking in terms of political shenanigans. Certainly they were guilty of attrocities when they finally lost patience and rebelled, and their leader Jean Cavalier was a sell out, but the bulk of these people stuck to their faith when it was a dangerous thing to do, and offered little or no chance of worldly gain.
    In those simple times there was a great wonder and mystery in life. Man walked in fear and solemnity, with Heaven very close above his head, and Hell below his very feet. God's visible hand was everywhere, in the rainbow and the comet, in the thunder and the wind. The Devil too raged openly upon the earth; he skulked behind the hedge-rows in the gloaming; he laughed loudly in the night-time; he clawed the dying sinner, pounced on the unbaptized babe, and twisted the limbs of the epileptic. A foul fiend slunk ever by a man's side and whispered villainies in his ear, while above him there hovered an angel of grace . . .

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  13. #13
    Member Megas Methuselah's Avatar
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    Post Re: Reformation

    I haven't really studied that period - it's in the 18th century - and I really can't say much about it, but weren't they mostly peasants? It was mostly the nobles and ruling class who had been taking advantage of the reformation in an attempt to extent their own power. Remember, there was a much higher ratio of Protestant nobles than there was of Protestant peasants in the French Wars of Religion (in the 17th century, anyways).

    The mostly-peasant participants in the Camisard rebellion were probably real Protestants who died for what they believed in, and not power-hungry nobles.

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