World History 2 62 - 5.1 The Protestant Reformation

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the causes of the Protestant Reformation
  • Describe differences between Protestant and Catholic beliefs
  • Discuss the spread of Protestantism in Europe and the wars of religion
  • Describe the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation

When Columbus set sail across the Atlantic in 1492, the people of western and central Europe, regardless of their country or language, were united by a common religion. In the same year as Columbus’s momentous voyage, Spain defeated the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula and expelled Jewish people from the land. Muslims were given a brief respite, but in 1501 they too were ordered to leave or to convert to Catholicism. With the exception of small Jewish communities in the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands) and the German lands, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the people of western and central Europe were uniformly Roman Catholics. Challenges to the authority of the Catholic Church were brewing, however, and the passage of less than a century found Europeans hopelessly divided over matters of faith as the result of an event known as the Protestant Reformation.

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The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 2: from 1400 textbook by Openstax