The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent and spearheaded by the new order of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) specifically organised to counter the Protestant movement. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of most of Ireland, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.
The first of the new churches was the Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) dating their origins to Jan Hus in the early 15th century. The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well.
Although there had been a reformation movement significantly predating Luther, the most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.
Parallel to events in Germany, a... [continues]
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