The Protestant Reformation Was Primarily an Economic Event.

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The Protestant Reformation was a 16th century movement originally aimed at reforming the Catholic Church. Indirectly, its original motives were realized through the Catholic Counter-Reformation. However, the Protestant Reformation soon sought to break away from the Catholic Church for a variety of different reasons. Despite beginning as a religious movement, the Protestant Reformation came to incorporate political and economic motives as well.

Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-Five Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s Theses were in direct response to the Church’s selling of indulgences, the sale of an exemption from sin. Luther felt that one could not simply buy oneself out of hell or purgatory. Further, his beliefs were born out of Luther’s deeply religious character, forever frightened by God’s impending judgment. With the advent of the printing press, Luther gained many genuine, religious followers. For example, Luther felt that women should not be required to confess their sins through a male priest; rather, women could confess directly to God. Luther also had other followers who had ulterior, political motives, like the German princes. German princes, like Luther’s protector Frederick the Wise, saw in Luther a patriotic mascot for their fight for power and independence against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The Valois kings of France also supported Protestantism despite being Catholic. Because France was involved in a war with Charles V, the French kings sought to use Protestantism to further splinter the German territories, weakening Charles V. Another king, Henry VIII also had political motives for breaking from the Catholic Church. Despite Catholicism being healthy in England, Henry VIII decided to steer England to Anglicanism, so that he could legally divorce his wife.

Henry VIII, like many other Protestant political allies, also had economic side-motives. After imposing the Reformation in England, Henry VIII proceeded to...
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