Why The People Of Germany In The Early Sixteenth Century Were Prepared To Undermine The Traditions Of The Roman Catholic Church

1399 words - 6 pages

Why the People of Germany in the Early Sixteenth Century Were Prepared to Undermine the Traditions of the Roman Catholic Church

Germany in the eve of the reformation was a very different place to
what we recognise it to be today. It was a collective of states each
ruled by a prince. Although a minority of people became wealthy due to
new trade routes, mining and supply of weaponry, many of the peasants
and farmers remained poor. In some instances serfdom still existed and
there were regular uprising against voracious land owners. As the
princes of the various stated such as Saxony and Wittenberg had no
central government to rule Germany each state acted as if they were
small countries, building cities and castles. The Roman Catholic
emperor took advantage of the instability of the German people. As
there were no central government he could do as he liked such as
introduce a higher indulges fee and a number of religious taxes. Many
people had already started to question the running of the church and
the reason for why many priests grew rich and had women friends.
People such as humanists arose such as Erasmus. These were a group of
university scholars who were horrified by the ignorance of some of the
clergymen. Erasmus believed the church was twisting the words of the
bible and that many priests and monks "brayed like donkey's repeating
words of psalms they don't understand.

The argument was more or less as follows: the Reformation was a
religious revival; religious revivals presuppose a period of decadence
before them; therefore the late Middle Ages must have been religiously
decadent. This argument had some logic: the reformers (like everyone
else, including most churchmen) did criticize 'abuses' (the breaking
of accepted rules) within the Church. However, that does not mean that
the reformers rebelled against the Church because of its failings
alone. 1Indeed, they rebelled just as fiercely against many of its
ideals and its successes.

Although there were many reasons for the reformation as the humanist
were concerned, the main reason for the German people was thought not
be the corruption of the church but the reasoning behind the
indulgence fees. The German people did not mind paying the
indulgences, but what they did mind was the fact that the pope was
using the money to build extravagant and expensive monasteries in
Rome. The Germans felt that they were not receiving justice. They were
paying huge amounts of money for a building in another country that
many would never see in their life time.

Another reason for the reformation was the renaissance on Catholicism.
The renaissance was important in the context of the reformation of the
church because it encouraged a new intellectual outlook and a
re-examination of accepted ideas. The renaissance created humanism, an

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