The History of the Reformation
REFORMATION, THE PROTESTANT. By this term is designated the great revolution which took place in the sixteenth century against certain doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic church. Though primarily a religious revolution which attacked the universal supremacy of the Pope and ended religious unity in Christendom, it was also accompanied by changes in the political, social, and intellectual conditions of western Europe. Like the Renaissance (q.v.), which preceded it, and the French Revolution, which followed it, the Protestant Reformation was one of the three great revolutionary waves of the advancing tide of modern civilization. Though it is more accurately designated the Protestant Revolution, its leaders were often called reformers and it led to definite reforms within the Catholic church; it is therefore convenient to accept the long-established usage of speaking of the Protestant Reformation rather than of the Protestant Revolution. It is considered below under six headings: (1) Conditions Preceding the Reformation out of which the movement developed; (2 ) Lutheran Reformation in Germany and Scandinavia; (3) Calvinistic Reformation in Switzerland, France, Holland, and Scotland; (4) Reformation in England; (5) Minor Sects; (6) General Results of the Reformation.
Conditions Preceding the Reformation.
The Reformation dates from the year 1517, when Martin Luther (q.v.) challenged some of the papal assertions in his famous Ninety-five Theses. The Theses spread like wildfire. Luther tells us that the printing presses could not meet the demands for them. The explanation of their popularity can be understood only by noting certain conditions which had long existed in Europe and which in the beginning of the sixteenth century combined to produce the Protestant Revolution.
An almost continual conflict, since the time when the Empire was revived by Otto I (q.v.) in the year 962, had been taking place between popes and emperors. This conflict had generally resulted in victory for the papal side, but created a bitter antagonism between Rome in the south and Germany in the north. To this antagonism were added in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the beginnings of that spirit of nationality which has grown steadily and powerfully as a source of discord between peoples, until in the twentieth century it became one of the main causes of the World War of 1914. The national resentment against papal officials, papal taxation, and papal interference began to show itself in one country after another. In England the statutes of Mortmain (1279), of Provisors (1351), and of Præmunire (1393) greatly reduced the power of the Church to withdraw land from the control of the civil government, to make appointments to ecclesiastical offices, and to exercise judicial authority. John Wiclif (1324-84) boldly attacked the papacy itself, striking at the practices of indulgences, pilgrimages, and the worship of saints, as well as at the fundamental doctrine of transubstantiation. He denounced the teaching and character of the ordained priests and advocated in their stead "simple priests" living according to the Gospels. To reach the common people and to foster a higher spiritual life among them, he translated the Bible and prepared sermons in English. Wiclif's teachings, carried by wandering students according to mediaeval fashion from one university to another and transported in other ways, spread into Bohemia. Here they found a powerful advocate in John Huss (1369-1415). Huss was arrested, condemned at the Council of Constance, delivered over to the secular arm, and burned at the stake. His death, however, did not silence his protest. On the contrary it raised a religious and social national revolt in Bohemia which was a direct precursor of the revolt in Germany in Luther's day. It was not suppressed until the Pope was forced to make concessions to the Hussites. Wiclif and Huss were forerunners of Luther.
The papacy itself in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had in some cases fallen in practice from the high ideals of Gregory VII and Innocent III. It had become an object of easy attack on account of the greed, immorality, and ignorance of numbers of its officials all through the hierarchy. Though there were unquestionably a great many good pastors and faithful monks, there is evidence from churchmen themselves that too many of their own number lived lives which were a cause of scandal and indignation to simple and devout Christians. The "Babylonian captivity" of the papacy at Avignon (1305-76) had increased the luxury and expenses of the papal court and consequently increased the pressure of ecclesiastical taxation, the sale of offices, papal tithes, annates, and other forms of financial exaction. This ecclesiastical taxation was resented by both the governments and the common people of the growing nations north of the Alps. The Great Schism (1378-1417) , with the spectacle of three antipopes vituperating one another, not only scandalized Europe, but divided the faithful into partisans of one or the other Pope. The Church itself had recognized all these evils and had proposed at the Council of Constance its own "reformation in head and members." But no thorough reform was accomplished at that time.
The revival of learning in Italy, which was one of the phases of the Renaissance (q.v.), struck down the scholastic system of the mediaeval Church and deprived churchmen of that monopoly of learning which they had so long enjoyed. The schools of Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino da Verona, the newly discovered art of printing with movable metal types, and the revival of the classic literatures of Greece and Rome put into the hands of others than Church officials the long unknown stores of human knowledge and the tools for textual criticism. Lorenzo Valla (1406-56) endeavored to prove that the Donation of Constantine, as well as many other documents on which papal claims rested, were forgeries. The Italian humanists, however, seduced by the beauty of the ancient pagan world and the pleasures of Epicurean philosophy, were generally indifferent to reform in the Church. Genuine and effective desire for reform came first from the humanists of the North-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) of Rotterdam, John Colet (1466-1519) and Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) in England, Lefèvre d'Etaples in France, and John Reuchlin (1455-1522) in Germany. These earnest Christians employed the New Learning towards a reform in morals and a more accurate knowledge of the Scriptures. By their scholarly study of the text of the Bible, which was greatly furthered by Erasmus' Greek edition of the New Testament (1516) and by Reuchlin's Hebrew studies on the Old Testament, they laid the foundation on which Luther and Calvin could take their stand when they appealed to the Bible as the source of all authority.
Finally, a revival of interest in religion and an increase of genuine piety in the family life of the common people are noticeable in Germany in the latter decades of the fifteenth century. This found expression in the passion for collecting relics, in the numerous pilgrimages, and in the more frequent sermons, church festivals, and miracle plays. The religious revival found expression also in a silent, sincere, nonecclesiastical religion which is evidenced by the study of the Bible, by the publication of devotional works, and by the formation of devout groups of men and women for study and prayer, such as the Brethren of the Common Life. These German Mystics aimed at the closest union between man and God. Their earlier leaders were Master Eckhart (died 1327), Heinrich Suso (died 1366), Johann Tauler (died 1361), and Thomas à Kempis (died 1471), the famous author of the Imitation of Christ. In contrast with humanistic Italy, where the reform movement of Savonarola (q.v.) collapsed completely, it is noteworthy that in Germany the earliest presses printed many more books for family and private devotion and many more editions of the Bible than of the Greek and Roman classics -22 editions of the Psalter in German before 1509, 25 of the Gospels and Epistles before 1518, and 14 versions of the whole Bible in High German and 3 in Low German; these versions, however, were from the Vulgate and were lacking in accuracy and literary merit; they were consequently superseded completely by Luther's masterly translation a few years later.
Lutheran Reformation in Germany and Scandinavia. Germany.-The Protestant revolution began in Germany with Martin Luther (1483-1546) and was considerably influenced by his strong personality. He in turn was the embodiment and exponent of many of the tendencies inherent in the conditions preceding the Reformation. He was a patriotic German, who hated to see Germany drained of her money for the support of foreign Italian officials. On a visit to Rome in 1511 he had seen the worldliness, corruption, and vices into which some of the Renaissance popes had sunk. Though the shock which he then received did not at once convert him into a reformer, it gave great strength and point to his later assault on the papacy. At the University of Erfurt he caught something of the New Learning, and later enjoyed the friendship and assistance of the greatest German scholars, like Melanchthon and Reuchlin. His sensitive nature was deeply impressed with the simple piety of his peasant parents and early surroundings. Overwhelmed by a profound conviction of sin and fear of hell, for 10 long years he struggled to win salvation for himself by his own good works. Gradually, from reading the writings of the German Mystics, and especially from St. Paul's Epistles, he came to believe that salvation, or "justification," could not be won by man's own efforts, but was the free gift of God, to be gained only by faith. "A man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law," said St. Paul (Rom. iii. 28). So justification by faith became the doctrinal starting point of Luther's career and the basis from which he soon attacked the various good works, such as indulgences, recommended by the Church. Besides embodying many of the tendencies of the time, Luther was born and remained a man of the common people; he was therefore able to carry a strong popular movement to success, where earlier reformers had failed.
In 1517 a Dominican monk, named Tetzel (q.v.), came preaching indulgences to Luther's own parishioners near Wittenberg on the Elbe in Saxony. Luther was convinced that this was injurious to the moral and religious life of his fellow townsmen and that Tetzel's sermons as reported to him were full of lies and blasphemies. Therefore on All Saints' eve (Oct. 31), 1517, he posted on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg 95 theses challenging the theory and practice of indulgences. At once he found himself a storm centre. By many of the German princes and people he was applauded. By the Roman church be was summoned to submit to authority and be silent. A disputation at Leipzig (1519) with the zealous John Eck revealed the fact that Luther approved some of the doctrines of Huss, who had been condemned and burned as a heretic a century before. Accordingly the Pope issued against Luther a bull of excommunication. When it arrived at Wittenberg Luther, surrounded by the students and professors of the university, marched to a neighboring meadow and cast into a bonfire not only the papal bull itself but also a copy of the Canon Law (Dec. 10, 1520), thus symbolically breaking with the whole system upon which the Roman structure rested. The next year he was summoned before the newly elected German Emperor, Charles V, and the German princes and ecclesiastics assembled in the Diet at Worms (April, 1521). Here he was ordered to recant. Upon his refusal he was declared by Imperial edict to be an outlaw under the ban of the Empire, his writings were prohibited, and his adherents were threatened with extermination, but the edict was never completely enforced. Even the Papal Nuncio, Aleander, wrote that nine-tenths of the Germans cried "Long live Luther" and the other tenth "Death to Rome." After remaining hidden some months with friends at the Wartburg Castle, where he made an accurate and vigorous German translation of the New Testament from the original version in Greek, Luther came forth again to Wittenberg to assume the leadership of the reform movement which bears his name. Henceforth Germany was sharply divided religiously between Catholics and Lutherans. The former were supported by the Emperor, the bishops and abbots and some of the princes. The latter found adherents in many of the free imperial cities and among the princes of northern Germany. In 1526, at the First Diet of Spires, it was agreed that German princes might adopt Lutheran practices, but at the Second Diet of Spires, in 1529, the Catholic majority rescinded this agreement. The Lutheran minority thereupon protested; thus the first Protestants were Lutherans, but the term was later broadened to include all the new Christian sects which arose out of the revolt from Rome. In 1530, at a diet in Augsburg, the Lutherans drew up a conciliatory statement of their tenets, known as the Augsburg Confession, with the hope that it would prove acceptable to the Emperor and the Catholic party. It was rejected by them, but it remained the basis of the new Lutheran church and creed. Charles V's wars with France and the Turks prevented him from attempting to suppress the Lutherans at once. But after Luther's death in 1546, with the aid of the ambitious Maurice of Saxony the Emperor took the field against the Lutherans in the so-called Schmalkald War. Though successful at first, he finally had to flee for his life, owing to the treacherous desertion of Maurice of Saxony. The civil religious war was closed by the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. According to its terms each ruler in Germany might choose between either Catholicism or Lutheranism for his territory and might enforce his chosen faith upon all his subjects according to the principle cujus regio, ejus religio. This gave toleration to the princes, but not to the people. Lutheranism was at last legally recognized. The idea of the religious unity of Western Christendom under the headship of the Pope was forever abandoned. Lutheranism established itself in northern and northeastern Germany; Catholicism maintained itself in the southeast and along parts of the Rhine valley where strong bishoprics were situated. The Peace of Augsburg also allowed Lutherans to retain all episcopal and monastic lands which they had seized and secularized before 1552, but provided, by the ecclesiastical-reservation clause, that in the future any bishop or abbot who changed his faith should thereby forfeit his office and lands; these were to be reserved for loyal Catholics. In the half century after 1555, during the Catholic reaction, or Counterreformation (q.v.), many disputes unfortunately arose in regard to the Peace of Augsburg: Catholics and Lutherans differed as to the observance of the ecclesiastical reservation; adherents of the Calvinistic Reformation (see below) demanded for themselves the same legal recognition which the treaty had accorded to Lutherans; and the Emperor was too weak to enforce the authority of the central government and thereby maintain peace between the religious factions. Out of these conditions came the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), which wrought terrible desolation in Germany until the religious and political questions were finally settled at the Peace of Westphalia (1648).
In the organization of the Lutheran church in Germany the territorial prince became the ecclesiastical bead, summus episcopus, within his territory, so that there were as many Lutheran church organizations in Germany as there were Lutheran ruling princes. All, however, had virtually the same creed, based on the Confession of Augsburg. Each prince usually exercised his ecclesiastical power of appointment and discipline through a commission or consistory. In general Luther retained all the Roman Catholic service and practices which he did not consider inconsistent with the Bible. Of the seven sacraments he retained only two, baptism and the Lord's Supper. While denying the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, Luther did vigorously insist on the literal meaning of the words Hoc est corpus meum, and maintained the Real Presence of Christ's body in the bread. Laymen partook of the Lord's Supper in both the bread and the wine. The church services were in the vernacular instead of in Latin, and an increased emphasis was placed on sermons and congregational hymn singing. In general attitude of mind the Lutherans tended towards conservatism. They hated the newer sect of Calvinists as dangerous innovators and contemners of the true meaning of the Lord's Supper and as restless political spirits who would involve Germany in revolutions and foreign religious wars.
Scandinavia.-The Lutheran Reformation in its essential features spread rapidly from Germany northward into the Scandinavian lands, It was carried by men who had studied under Luther at Wittenberg or who had been influenced by his writings. A national assembly which met at Copenhagen in 1536 did away with all episcopal authority in Norway and Denmark and invited Luther's friend, Bugenhagen, to come and organize a national Lutheran church on the basis of the Augsburg Confession. In Sweden, as a result of the efforts of the brothers Olaus and Laurentius Petri, a similar Lutheran Reformation was accomplished by the Ordinances Vesteräs, adopted by the Swedish Diet in 1527.
Calvinistic Reformation in Switzerland, France, Holland, and Scotland. Outside Germany and Scandinavia,the dominating figure in the Reformation was John Calvin (1509-64), who lived a generation later than Luther. Calvin's systematic theology, his Institutes, his influence as an educator, and his ability as an organizer, unrivaled among the other reformers, brought it about that the Reformed church, as Protestantism was called in Switzerland, France, and Scotland, received a thoroughly Calvinistic stamp, both in its theology and in its organization. In each of these countries, however, some reform movement had begun before the influence of Calvin was felt.
Switzerland.-In Switzerland Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), a contemporary of Luther, was, like him, a peasant's son and a patriot, but, he was somewhat better educated, more of a humanist, and of a wider and more statesmanlike outlook. His discontent with the Roman church came, not through the overwhelming conviction of personal sin and the need of salvation by faith, but from his study of the classics and of the Greek New Testament. He too, like Luther, had seen the corrupt conditions in Italy, where he had accompanied the Swiss mercenaries as army chaplain. Though at first he took a papal pension to recruit Swiss troops for the papal cause, he later denounced the whole mercenary system as prejudicial to the morals, patriotism, and peace of the Swiss nation. After completing his studies at Vienna and Basel he became a parish priest and settled near the famous monastery of Einsiedeln, a centre of pilgrimages. In 1519 he was called to an influential position as preacher in the cathedral at Zurich, and there his great work as a reformer began. At the approach of an indulgence preacher, named Samson, Zwingli denounced indulgences so vigorously that the Pope deemed it wise to recall Samson. Zwingli soon rose to a leading position in Zurich by his sermons in the cathedral, by his talks with persons in the market place, and especially by his public disputations before the town council. In these he took his stand upon the Bible as the source of authority and wished to do away with everything in the Catholic system except what Scripture enjoined. In 1523 and the two following years, under his leadership, the shrines were opened and the relics burned; religious processions and the images of saints were abolished; priests and monks were relieved from the vow of celibacy; and a simple communion service was introduced in place of the Mass. These changes by which Zurich withdrew from the Catholic church were accomplished legally and quietly by votes of the Zurich town council. Some other towns, such as Basel and Bern, followed Zurich's example. But the original forest cantons were more conservative and adhered to Catholicism. In Switzerland, as in Germany, the authority of the central government was too weak to enforce uniformity and prevent civil war. Two short civil conflicts took place between the Protestant and Catholic cantons, and Zwingli fell on the field of battle at Cappel in 1531. Soon after this Calvin's doctrines and organization took root in Bern and the other Protestant cantons. Switzerland ever since has been part Reformed and part Catholic.
In France the way of the Reformation had been prepared by a group of pious men, half mystic and half humanistic, who had gathered at Meaux, near Paris. Their leader, Lefèvre d'Etaples (c.1455-1536) , published in 1512 a scholarly Latin edition with commentary, of St. Paul's Epistles. Like Luther, his study of St. Paul had brought him to a belief in justification by faith and to a denial of the doctrine of transubstantiation. In 1523 he translated the whole New Testament into French. His work was at first favored by the Bishop of Meaux and especially by the King's sister, Margaret of Angoulême. But as Luther's doctrines began to spread in France greater attention was paid to the similar doctrines of Lefèvre. He and his followers were denounced by the Catholic faculty of the University of Paris and were soon persecuted by the King, Francis I, who hated dangerous innovations and felt personally insulted because some one had had the effrontery to post a Protestant placard on the door of the royal bedroom. Many leading Protestants fled, from France to escape persecution. and settled in Geneva or Switzerland until strengthened by the Calvinistic reformation at Geneva.
John Calvin (q.v.) was born at Noyon in Pieardy in 1509. He received an excellent training in theology with his uncle, who was a bishop, a systematic training in Roman law at the University of Orleans, and a wide knowledge of the classics from his own natural inclination towards humanism and the New Learning. It was this threefold training as theologian, jurist, and scholar combined with an inborn intellectual ability of extraordinary power, which gave his writing and teaching their unique force. Having written for the rector of the University of Paris a famous inaugural address, which the rector delivered but which was regarded as tainted with Lutheran heresy, both Calvin and the rector had to flee from Paris to escape the persecution of the French King. Calvin retired to Basel and published there, at the age of 27, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. It contains the fundamental ideas which he put into practice at Geneva and which are the basis of the Calvinistic Reformation in other countries. Geneva was a French-speaking town dependent on Savoy until shortly before Calvin's arrival in 1536, when it became independent, with the government in the hands of a town council. Some reform measures had already been accomplished under Farel and Froment. Calvin insisted on more. The Lord's Supper must be celebrated at least once every month. Congregational singing of the Psalms must be part of the church worship. Children must be taught a catechism and confession of faith. Especially a strict discipline and supervision of morals must be exercised by the pastors and members of the church, and notorious sinners must be excommunicated and forbidden to approach the Holy Communion. This strict regime, which insisted on the observance of the Ten Commandments, aroused the opposition of the pleasure-loving Genevese. Farel and Calvin were forbidden to preach further (April, 1538), and were finally exiled from the city. But three years later, Calvin's friends again having gotten control of the government, he was recalled in triumph and spent the rest of his life (1541-64) in making Geneva what John Knox called the "most perfect school of Christ since the Apostles."
Calvin's theology rests on the underlying belief in the absolute sovereignty of God as the personal ruler of the universe and in the Bible as the sole and sufficient source of authority. But he interpreted the Bible "with reason and equity" in a more liberal and scholarly spirit than did Luther. Calvin believed in "double predestination"-that the "'elect" formed an "invisible church" predestined by God for salvation while the rest of mankind, tainted with original sin through Adam's fall, was predestined with equal certainty to damnation. He dial not, however, give this doctrine the prominence which has been given to it by later generations. Calvin's organization of his church was democratic and furthered the idea of representative government. Church officials-pastors, teachers, presbyters, and deacons-were elected, like civil officials, by members of the church. Church and state were separate in organization, but coöperated closely to support each other. Calvin drew up a definite creed, which was made compulsory on all citizens who wished to exercise political rights, and a catechism which was taught to children. All citizens were to have at least a common-school education so that they could read and understand the Bible for themselves. In 1559 Calvin founded a university at Geneva, soon famous as a place for training proficient pastors and teachers. To enforce discipline of morals Calvin made efficient a rigid inspection of household conduct, and organized a consistory, composed of pastors and laymen, with wide powers of compulsion. Dancing, card playing, dice, and other recreations were forbidden; blasphemy and ribaldry were severely punished; even the dress and demeanor of citizens were prescribed down to minute details. In this severe Genevan atmosphere were formed the men of strong moral fibre and unflinching temper who went forth into Switzerland, France, Holland, Scotland, and even Germany, taking with them the Calvinistic system and spirit.
France.-To France before 1567 there had come from Geneva 120 pastors trained by Calvin. In 1559 delegates from 66 Protestant churches in France met at Paris in a national synod. This synod drew up a confession of faith and a book of discipline based on those at Geneva. Thus was organized the first national Protestant church in France. Its members were hereafter commonly known as Huguenots, probably a corruption of Eidgenossen, the name of the Confederates of Switzerland and Geneva from whom the French drew so much of their religious thought and organization. Unfortunately the Huguenot cause in France became involved in the rivalries of political factions. Nobles often joined or deserted the Huguenot ranks from political interest rather than from religious conviction. These political factions, combined with religious hatreds, led to a generation of civil wars (1562-98), broken by a few truces and darkened by the treacherous and terrible Massacre of St. Bartholomew (q.v.) in 1572, in which many thousands of Protestants, including their heroic leader, Gaspard de Coligny, perished. Under Henry IV (1589-1610), King of Navarre and France, the Huguenots triumphed for a moment at the battle of Ivry. But Paris and more than nine-tenths of the population of France remained Roman Catholic. In these circumstances Henry IV deemed it expedient to announce his conversion to Catholicism, while at the same time protecting his former Huguenot friends by issuing in 1598 the Edict of Nantes (q.v-).
Holland.-In Holland Calvinism spread gradually in the middle of the sixteenth century until it attained such a firm hold among the liberty-loving Dutch that they rose in 1568 in political and religious revolt against the cruelties and oppression of the Catholic governors sent by Philip II of Spain. The leadership of the revolt was taken by William the Silent of the noble house of Orange-Nassau. Though often defeated and forced to retreat he retained the love and confidence of the Dutch until they formed themselves into a republic by the Union of Utrecht (1579) and declared themselves independent of Spain (1581). William the Silent was assassinated soon afterward by a Catholic zealot (1584) . But the Eighty Years' War of Liberation was continued under the leadership of his descendants until in 1648, in the Peace of Westphalia, Spain finally gave up the claim to an authority which she could no longer exercise.
Scotland.-In Scotland the way for the Calvinistic Reformation was prepared by the remnants of Lollardy among the people. The beginnings of a reform movement under Lutheran influence were made by Patrick Hamilton, who was martyred for his faith in 1523, and by George Buchanan, who was imprisoned but managed to escape. The decisive movement was led by the fiery John Knox (1515-72). Captured by the French and forced to sit for 19 months chained as a galley slave, he afterward returned to England and preached for five years (1549-54). The accession of the Catholic Mary Tudor drove him from England to Geneva, where he became an ardent disciple of Calvin. In 1559 he returned to Scotland to lead the Calvinistic Reformation. In 1560 he persuaded the Scottish Parliament to adopt a confession of faith and book of discipline adapted from those at Geneva to meet the special conditions in Scotland. It provided for the government of the Scottish Presbyterian church by local kirk sessions and by a general assembly composed of ministers and presbyters representing the local churches of all Scotland. Mary, Queen of Scots, attempted to overthrow the new Protestant church, but after a seven years' struggle she herself was forced to flee across the border to England. Calvinism was left triumphant in Scotland, except for a few districts in the north, where noble families adhered to the old faith.
Calvinistic or Reformed doctrines also spread into western Germany and were taken up by some of the German princes, notably by the Hohenzollern family in Brandenburg in 1613. But Calvinism met with bitter opposition in Germany for more than a century from both Catholics and Lutherans.
Reformation in England. The English revolt from Rome differed from the revolts in Germany, Switzerland, and France in two respects. First, England was a compact nation with a strong central government, and therefore, instead of splitting into parties and ending in civil war, the revolt was national, the King and Parliament acting together in transferring to the King the ecclesiastical jurisdiction hitherto exercised by the Pope. Second, in the continental countries a religious agitation by the people had preceded and caused the political break from Rome; but in England the political break came first, over the question of Henry VIII's divorce, while the change in religious doctrines and modes of worship came long afterward in the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth. When Lutheran doctrines began to make headway in England, where the ground was well prepared by Wiclif's earlier teachings, Henry VIII had hastened to write a pamphlet attacking the Wittenberg heresies. For this he received from the Pope the title Defender of the Faith, ever since borne by English monarchs. Eight years later, however, he wished to divorce his Catholic wife, Catharine of Aragon. As she had been previously married to his brother Arthur, she ought not, by ecclesiastical law, to have contracted a similar relation with Henry; but a special dispensation had been granted by the Pope setting aside the ecclesiastical law. The question now was whether this dispensation was valid. Henry claimed that it was not and that he and Catharine ought to separate. The Pope upheld the validity of the dispensation and, for political as well as religious reasons, refused to annul the marriage or sanction a divorce. Henry then turned to the reformers and foreign universities for an opinion. From Zwingli and colampadius he received the advice that his marriage was null; from Luther and Melanchthon, that it was binding, but that polygamy was lawful in certain circumstances. Henry followed the advice of both: he married Anne Boleyn on Jan. 25, 1533, and on March 30 of the same year had Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, sitting in an ecclesiastical court, pronounce his divorce from Catharine. When he was excommunicated by the Pope, Henry replied in 1534 with the Act of Supremacy passed by a submissive Parliament. This Act appointed the King and his successors "supreme head of the Church of England," i.e., of a national Anglican church. Other acts of Parliament cut off all the Pope's revenues and put a complete end to his political and religious authority in England. The monasteries were suppressed (1536-39) and their property greatly added to Henry's resources. Beyond these changes Henry did not want to go. To prevent the spread of Lutheran doctrines and practices, Henry secured from Parliament in 1539 the severe Act of Six Articles, which declared it heretical, with heavy penalties, to deny transubstantiation, communion in one kind, sacerdotal celibacy, inviolability of the vow of chastity, and the necessity of private masses and auricular confession. Several Lutherans were burned, while those who upheld the supremacy of the Pope were executed as traitors. Under Edward VI (1547-53) the Protestant religious doctrines and practices which Henry VIII abhorred were introduced into the Anglican church. The Act of Six Articles was repealed at once (1547), and several continental reformers, including Martin Bucer, were invited to England. The first Prayer Book of Edward VI, adopted in 1549, provided a uniformity of service which was enforced by law on all. This was followed by a second Prayer Book in 1552 and by a new creed in forty-two articles. Mary Tudor (1553-58) endeavored to restore the Roman Catholic religion and burned many Protestants at the stake. Other Protestants, like Knox, fled to the Continent, where they were strengthened and often made more radical by contact with Calvinism. The final settlement came under Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) in the year 1563. The Forty-two Articles of Edward VI were reduced to the Thirty-nine Articles which still form the Anglican creed. This creed is Protestant and closer to Lutheranism than to Calvinism; but the episcopal organization and the ritual of the Anglican church were largely retained from the Roman Catholic church. A large number of people under Elizabeth did not feel that this Established church was sufficiently reformed and purified of Romanism; they formed numerous Calvinist sects -Presbyterians, Puritans, Brownists, Separatists-known collectively as dissenters or nonconformists.
Minor Sects. Besides the three great churches, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican, there were born of the Reformation a large number of small sects, a natural consequence of the Protestant repudiation of traditional authority and exaltation of private judgment. In the first years of the revolt there arose at Zwickau, in Saxony a small body known as Anabaptists, because of their belief that infant baptism was invalid and their insistence that adherents to their church should be rebaptized. Though frowned upon by Luther, their propaganda spread with extraordinary rapidity throughout Germany. The diversity of their opinions was marked. Some were Quietists, like the later Quakers. Others believed in the renovation of church and state by armed revolt and contributed to the Peasant Revolt of 1524-25. In 1529 the Diet of Spires condemned the Anabaptists to death, and this was promptly acted upon by Lutherans and Zwinglians as well as by Catholics. In 1534 under the tailor, John of Leyden, they obtained the upper hand in Münster, and scandalized Europe by their polygamy and communism, until they were suppressed by a combined force of Lutherans and Catholics. In 1538 England passed a law condemning them to death. For a century they suffered martyrdom, but they survived nevertheless and are the predecessors of the present Baptist church.
Unitarianism was also sporadic in the sixteenth century. The Spaniard, Michael Servetus, for his De Trinitatis Erroribus (1531), was burned at Geneva in 1553. The Italians Lelio and Fausto Sozzini expressed their doubts about the Trinity to a group of friends in 1546. They were compelled to seek safety north of the Alps, and formed a considerable number of antitrinitarian followers in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and Poland.
General Results of the Reformation. The Protestant Revolution was only partially successful. Where it succeeded it strengthened the national life of the Protestant nations and tended towards the blending of all social classes into one community. Where it failed it produced, as every unsuccessful revolution does, reaction. In the Catholic nations, like Spain and France, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities were more closely allied than before. The Inquisition and the Index were symbols of one kind of despotism, as the French Bastille was of the other. Where it partially succeeded and partially failed, as in Germany and Switzerland, it resulted in civil wars and in the long postponement of the growth of a healthy, vigorous national life. The Reformation greatly advanced the growth of national languages and literature. Luther's Bible and Calvin's New Testament and Institutes became classical models for the language of religious and philosophical thought. The fact that the religious controversies of the time were carried on largely in the language of the people instead of in Latin, and that there was such an increase in the popular reading of the Bible and the singing of hymns in the vernacular, greatly stimulated the development of the new national tongues. Popular education received a similar stimulus through the New Learning and the new schools of Colet in England, of Calvin in Geneva, and of the Protestant princes in Germany. Religion became less a thing of the clergy and more a thing of the people. Religious toleration, however, made but little progress for a century. All the sects persecuted those who differed materially from themselves. The Reformation was accompanied by an increase of the witchcraft delusion, so that more unhappy wretches were burned on this charge in the sixteenth century than in any preceding one.
The New International Encyclopaedia, Vol. XIX (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1920) 633-639.