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Highlights in Christianity: Martin Luther and Henry VIII

In the Christian world, three large groups were formed , the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and various sects of Protestantism. In 1054 AD, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox groups split with Protestantism coming into the picture during the Reformation of the 16th century. In this article, you will learn a bit more about the Protestant Reformation.

1517 , Martin Luther starts the Protestant Reformation in Germany.

The Protestant Reformation marked the split within Western Christianity that took place during the 16th century. The ‘reformers’ consisted of John Calvin (an influential French theologian and pastor), Martin Luther (German priest and professor of theology), as well as other early Protestants. The men were in protest against the doctrines, rituals, and other features of the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, new Protestant churches started to spring up.

The Reformation kicked off with a handful of events, such as the Black Death. The people’s faith in the Roman Catholic Church wore thin after facing such turbulent times. The criticism continued to grow for the church, which led to the creation of Protestantism. Also, the Muslims no longer had a powerful influence on Europe. However, the Protestant Reformation did not occur without any opposition , the Roman Catholics promoted a Counter-Reformation that was led by the Jesuit order. They established influence over large parts of Europe, including Poland. But, northern Europe shifted towards Protestantism , with the exception of Ireland and some parts of Britain. In the south of Europe, the Roman Catholics remained strong. In central Europe, intense battles broke out over religion.

With the new churches that emerged from the religious changes of this time period, the largest belonged to the Lutherans, who were mostly found in Germany and Scandinavia. The Reformed churches in Switzerland and Scotland were also impressive. The bulk of these dates back to 1517, when Luther published his ‘The Ninety-Five Theses’.

1534 , Henry VIII breaks with Rome.

When Henry VIII breaks with Rome, this event triggers the founding of the Church of England. Henry served as King of England from April of 1509 until his death in 1547. After succeeding his father, Henry VII, he became the second monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry married six women, although royal and religious rules did not allow it. His desire to marry who he wanted and produce a male heir led to his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, he would become the Supreme Head of the Church of England , a title he established himself.

Henry was at odds with Rome and even though he separated from the Roman Catholic Church, he still believed in the core Catholic religious teachings even after his excommunication. His inability to produce a male heir left him wanting to exchange wives until he found the one that could give him a son. He pushed England towards a Protestant embrace so that he could take the wives he wanted so that he could have a son as an heir to the throne. He did not believe a daughter could handle the vision he had for his nation.