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How the Reformation Affected 16th Century Civilization Essay

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How the Reformation Affected 16th Century Civilization

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of his local monastery in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, Europe was plunged in political and social turmoil. With only a few notable exceptions, a wave of political unity and centralization swept across the Western world. Papal power was perhaps not at its height, yet its corruption and increasingly secular values could be seen from St. Peter's in Rome to John Tetzel in Germany. Furthermore, in the economically prospering towns and cities, the middle class was facing an increasing volatile political situation with the growing national monarchies. All of these factors were to only catalyze the reactionary
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Furthermore, with so many taxes going to Rome, along with such practices as the immunity of the clergy, the nobility held similar views toward the Church. Hence the Reformation presented an intriguing opportunity to break with the church and to align against the emergent national rulers - particularly in the Holy Roman Empire with the Catholic Charles V in power. It would not be until the Diet of Augsburg and the subsequent formation of the Schmalkaldic League that the nobility of the Holy Roman Empire would formally align against the Catholic emperor. Despite Charles' anti-Protestant proclamation at the meeting, with the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, the division of the Holy Roman Empire was firmly established. These events which transpired in the first years of the reformation will firmly establish the basis for the massive religious wars which are to sweep the continent in the coming years. Furthermore, these new Protestant alliances will come to define international politics in the next century. The impact of these first years of the Reformation perhaps will not be fully realized until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, when the Holy Roman Emperor will lose nearly all his power as some 300 German states gain their independence. The Protestant movement will bring much more than scholarly reforms to the churches of Northern Europe, changing the traditional doctrines and
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