Lutheran V.S. Church

"Story of the church"

How it started

Martin Luther (1483–1546) is one of the most important figures in the history of Christianity (a religion founded by Jesus of Nazareth, also called Jesus Christ). Luther is credited with starting the Protestant Reformation, a movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church (a Christian faith based in Rome, Italy) that resulted in a worldwide revolution. Before turning to how Luther sparked the Reformation, however, it is necessary to consider the state of the Catholic Church in the early 1500s, when Luther called for reforms. By this time the church had dominated Europe for more than eight hundred years. The pope, the supreme head of the church, was one of the most powerful figures in the world. He was considered Earth's vicar, or representative, of Jesus Christ, as well as the lawgiver and judge for followers of the Catholic faith. The pope and other church officials were involved in virtually every aspect of religious, social, political, and economic life in Europe. Nevertheless, the church itself was highly unstable and corrupt. In fact, it had nearly been torn apart by two bitter conflicts, the Babylonian captivity (1306–76) and the Great Schism (1348–1417), which had taken place in the two centuries prior to Luther's life.

Crisis in Babylonia

The events leading up to the Babylonian captivity began in 1294, when church leaders were embroiled in a crisis over the selection of a pope. For eighteen months, since the death of Pope Nicholas IV (1227–1292; reigned 1288–92), the sacred college of cardinals (a committee composed of cardinals, the highest-ranking church officials, who elect the pope) had been divided into two opposing sides and could not reach an agreement on the election of the next pope. Neither side would recognize the legitimacy of the other. A schism, or division, of the church seemed inevitable. Then Pietro da Morrone (c. 1209–1296), an elderly Benedictine (member of a religious order founded by Saint Benedict), wrote the college a letter promising severe divine judgment if a pope was not elected soon. Terrified of God's wrath, the dean of the college called for Morrone to be elected pope. The cardinals agreed and quickly approved the decision. Morrone became Pope Celestine V (reigned 1294).

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Renaissance Summary & the Church during the Renaissance

Catholicism and Christianity

The Roman Catholic Church was now deeply divided as each camp claimed to be the rightful heir to Saint Peter (the first pope) and the legitimate authority for Catholicism. All of western Europe was divided as well. With Catholicism as the only form of Christianity, a choice had to be made by monarchs of Catholic countries: Would they support the popes of Avignon or Rome? France recognized the popes of Avignon, as did Scotland, Sicily (an island off the coast of Italy), and Portugal. England, which was fighting the Hundred Years' War against France, supported the popes of Rome. The papacy in Rome was also recognized in parts of the Holy Roman Empire, northern and central Italy, and Ireland. Loyalty to the two camps was dependent on the individual interests and needs of a country, often changing when these interests were met by one side and not by the other.

The Hundred Years' War: France V.S England

The name the Hundred Years’ War has been used by historians since the beginning of the nineteenth century to describe the long conflict that pitted the kings and kingdoms of France and England against each other from 1337 to 1453. Two factors lay at the origin of the conflict: first, the status of the duchy of Guyenne (or Aquitaine)-though it belonged to the kings of England, it remained a fief of the French crown, and the kings of England wanted independent possession; second, as the closest relatives of the last direct Capetian king (Charles IV, who had died in 1328), the kings of England from 1337 claimed the crown of France.