The Reformation can be said to have started in 1517 when an Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the town church in Wittenberg, Germany. The ninety-five theses were written in outrage towards the papacy and were intended to spark a political debate amongst the scholars in the town; however it ignited a religious conflict throughout the catholic church that would last for centuries to come. Luther’s beliefs and arguments contained in the theses appealed widely to the population of Germany and with the new invention of the printing press it was disseminated across Europe. The people who it appealed to were of all classes such as peasants, humanists, nobles and some of the clergy themselves. The people who took up Luther’s beliefs were called reformers, they wanted reform within the church. The reformers were responding to a widespread discontent with contemporary religion. This dissatisfaction with the existing state of the church had two aspects, firstly discontent with the church as an institution and a desire to return to a more satisfying personal religion based more closely on the gospel story than was that of the contemporary church. This discontentment had been increasing for centuries against the papacy and hence why, when Luther nailed his theses to the church door he had won over many supporters in Germany.
There were many reasons as to why it appealed to so many people. The main one being that it was quite accessible for people all over to hear and read about Luther’s ideas. In towns throughout Europe literacy rates were improving with the Renaissance taking root at the start of the 15th century. Towns were communication centres and Protestantism can be shown to have spread along the trade routes. Towns also served the function of being natural centres in which ideas were shared. Many Humanists, scholars and theologians could translate Luther’s theses and send it to any... [continues]
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