Characterize the Role of Religion in Centralization of Nation States

Topics: Thirty Years' War, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Germany Pages: 2 (659 words) Published: January 12, 2013
Religion was a major factor in the centralization of territories into modern nation states. Religion was crucial in the development of the modern nation state because of it's ability to be a unifying characteristic. Religion also created common enemies which allowed groups with different religious views separate into individual states that be far more likely to have a more centralized government or monarch. While religion acted as a catalyst in the development of the modern nation state, religion hindered and tore apart developing nation states. Religion played both the role of an asset and a liability in the case of centralization during the age of the reformation.

Religion was successful in creating a common characteristic, by which people categorized themselves. For example, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile reformed Spain by requiring all citizens to be Catholic. This would allow them to have better control and a shared attribute with the citizens of Spain, which would allow for a more centralized territory that would become a nation state. Also during this time period the Calvinists in the Holy Roman Empire area controlled by Philip II were being persecuted for their religion. The common religion in these Dutch provinces allowed for them to form together and create a centralized territory which eventually would become the Dutch Netherlands. German principalities also used their religion as a common characteristic to hold themselves together. When Martin Luther told the German Princes to separate from the Pope and Holy Roman Empire, they unified under Lutheranism which led to the development of that nation state.

While religion was used as a common characteristic, religion was also used to unify groups of people by creating common enemies. For example, William of Orange (William I) centralized the Dutch Provinces, who were primarily Calvinists, against the Holy Roman Empire who was trying to force them to become Catholic. Ferdinand II also...
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