Discovering Our Past: Medieval and Early Modern Times
In the 1300s, people became upset with Catholic Church taxes and corruption and began to question Church practices. In 1517, a young monk named Martin Luther challenged the authority of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church. This led to the Reformation and the creation of a new denomination called Lutheranism. Many political leaders and kings became Lutherans and broke away from the Catholic Church. The Peace of Augsburg ended the wars between German kingdoms and the Holy Roman Empire, granting the German kings the power to choose the religion of their kingdoms.
John Calvin built upon Martin Luther's ideas and created Calvinism, which was based on the idea of predestination. Calvin's Protestant teachings spread across western Europe and shaped the ideas of English settlers who migrated to colonies in North America.
Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church when the pope refused to annul his marriage. He established the Anglican Church in England. People known as Puritans tried to reform the Anglican Church but were persecuted by King James. Many Puritans then left England for America in search of religious freedom, founding colonies in New England.
After losing power and influence to Protestantism, the Catholic Church began the Counter-Reformation. The Church established seminaries to train new priests, and it created a new order of priests to teach, preach, and fight heresy. Catholics and Protestants engaged in bloody wars throughout Europe. As part of the Counter-Reformation, Catholic kingdoms began sending missionaries overseas to convert people to Christianity.