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Reformation Success, Due To The Renaissance Popes, Or The Church And A Politically, Socially And Economically Changing Europe?

3545 words - 14 pages

The Protestant Reformation marked a time of great religious,social and political upheaval. For the first time in historythe Christian church was permanently shattered. TheReformation originated from a trend in returning to thebiblical days of Christianity and a renewal of morality.Unfortunately the Catholic religious leaders didn't share inthe renewal of morality. The Renaissance popes werepartially responsible for the decline of the church;however,it was the Church's past history and changing social,political and economic factors that lead to theReformation's sucess.Commercialization of the Holy See was common for mostpopes, but ,according to Barbra Tuchman, three of these mentook particular advantage of the practice. Innocent VII isthe earliest acknowledged pope during the Renaissance tohave taken liberties with the church's finances. Although heengaged in the practices of simony and the selling ofindulgences, his most noted mistake was raising donationsfor a Crusade that never took place. In 1486 Innocentannounced a crusade, as well as at the same time declaring atithe on all churches, benefices and ecclesiastical personsof all ranks. Military plans were drawn up but, in the end,no great army ever assembled or departed from Europe'sshores. Instead, in a twist of irony, the Vatican wound uphosting an infidel in the form of Prince Djem, the sultan'sbrother. This arrangement confused the general public andthe papal status fell in the eyes of the public. Papalstatus was further weakened by Innocent's successorAlexander VI. Alexander thrived on simony. He acquired theoffice of pope by buying out his chief rivals and openlyboasted about this feat. Alexander went on to sell a totalof 43 cardinalships, including to his own family. After themurder of his eldest son, Alexander was inspired in aproposed Bull to try to reform the church by reducing theincomes of the cardinals as well as mend other wicked ways;however, provisions caused Alexander to return to normal andhe never issued the Bull. Perhaps if the Church had reformedduring Alexander's reign, Leo X would never have takenoffice. Leo is most noted for writing to his brother 'Godhas given us the papacy-let us enjoy it'. Leo took thiscredo to heart and was considered the most extravagant popeand one of the great spenders of his time. He is most knownfor commissioning the rebuilding of St. Peter's, as well asseveral well known works of art, and for his continuousfestivities during his reign. In order to fund hisexpenditures his chancery created 2000 salable offices,grossing an estimated total of 3 million ducats.Unfortunately this sum still proved insufficient for Leo'slargesse. He poured countless amounts of money into idlewars and lavish displays. At his death he left the Papacyover 800,000 ducats worth of debts. His enormousexpenditures left the Church in the lowest possible state ofrepute with the public and gave Martin Luther the rightatmosphere to revolt.The church's reputation continued to...

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