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Period 5 Time of explorers and reformers

The Reformation and the division of the Christian Church

How many churches are in town with you? Probably a lot. The Catholic churches are the oldest in history. It wasn't until later that other churches joined.

The reformers have left an important mark on the history of the Netherlands. The reforms all started with Luther's famous theorems. On 31 October 1517 he nailed 95 scaffolding on the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg. Wittenberg is now located in Central Germany. The final church was a Catholic church. Luther was originally a Catholic monk. He later became a priest and theologian.

As a theologian, Luther has studied many Christian texts. And he was annoyed by Catholic practice. He felt that the Catholic Church had misinterpreted the Bible. He wanted to expose abuses and errors and get rid of them.

In the Catholic Church, it was believed that your sins would send you to hell. For example, if you had lied or stolen, your soul would burn forever after death. This was not a good prospect for anyone. Everyone sins a little, and so everyone would be punished after his death.

But the Catholic Church had a solution to this. In the Catholic Church it is also believed that God on earth acts in the person of the pope. This actually means that the Pope is God's sidekick on earth. So the Pope was also allowed to make decisions and say that God agrees. He said people should buy indulgences. If they did, their sins would have been forgiven. The church made a lot of money. But it wasn't entirely fair. Because only rich people could buy off their sins.

Luther didn't believe in these indulgences. The 95 statements were therefore statements against the indulgence. Nor did he believe that God on earth acted in the person of the Pope. Like Erasmus, Luther felt that people should be able to think about their faith themselves. That's why he translated the Bible into German. At first, it seems as if Luther only wants the Catholic Church to be changed. But it soon turns out that's not the case. He not only disagrees with Catholic practice, he also disagrees with the theory behind the Catholic faith.

In 1521, the Pope put him under the spell. So he was expelled from the church community. In the Middle Ages, this was a huge punishment. But they were living in a different era now. There were more and more people who started to think for themselves. Luther gained followers. There were also other reformers. Calvin and Zwingli are two other important church reformers. The followers oppose the Catholic Church.

By 1529, many German monarchs had already converted to Lutheranism. They protested during the Reichstag against the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The emperor did not want to grant them religious freedom. All the princes had to be Catholic.

This battle between the Protestant princes and the Catholic emperor caused a lot of unrest in Germany, but also in the Netherlands. Because in the Netherlands many princes had become Calvinist. Many citizens followed their monarchs. This led to public attacks towards Catholicism. The citizens attacked the churches and brought down the statues. We call this the Iconoclastic Storm. This Iconoclastic Storm is an important element in the era of discoverers and reformers. Calvin had said that the statues did not belong in the church. According to him, you were only allowed to worship God and therefore no images.

The emperor was very angry with the Dutch Protestants. The Iconoclastic Storm led to the 80-year war. This was also an important moment in Dutch history.