Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life: 4c. Europe and the Reformation, to 1571

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Martin Luther Collection: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life: 4c. Europe and the Reformation, to 1571

TOPIC: Luther, Martin - Theses & Life (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 4c. Europe and the Reformation, to 1571

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From: <> ; Copyright © 2000 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.

Roman Catholic Vision and Discontent

Learned Roman Catholics saw their Church as more than a collection of Christians. They saw the Church as divine as well as human, as a community united with Christ and the grace of God. They saw their Church as following the authority that Christ had given to the Bishop of Rome, and as built upon the tomb of Peter, and as such they believed there could be only one Christian Church.

The Roman Catholic Church had troubled itself to maintain an identity in belief, purging from its ranks those it had deemed mistaken in their opinions about the nature of Christ, the nature of property and the authority of the Church, among other views, such as those of the Gnostics, Donatists and the Pelagians. But within the Church remained a diversity of opinion and dissatisfactions. For centuries, Catholics had been calling for a return to the more simple religion of earlier Christianity, for the laity having more influence within the Church and for appointment to the higher clergy being more of a matter wisdom and morality than class and wealth. Some in the Church still believed that good Christians should live simply, as they believed Jesus and his disciples had lived. Also of concern was the low standard of ordination into the priesthood. People found fault with priests for drinking, gambling and living with concubines. Some complained also about priests and monks being exempt from taxation and civil responsibilities.

By the 1500s, discontent within the Church had turned much of Christendom into an arena of debate, and much of the debate was bitter and with name calling, while influencing the debate was the rise of humanism. Europe was entering a new age of vanishing tales of chivalry replaced by memoirs and essays. It was the time of the famous Roman Catholic named Desiderius Erasmus, from Rotterdam. Erasmus denounced what he called absurd superstitions, and he declared almost all Christians enslaved by blindness and ignorance. But Popes consulted with him, and he was offered bishoprics. Erasmus believed that many common people had the capacity to understand Christianity as well as did priests. He doubted the need of the intercession of priests, and he hoped for more education for common people. He advocated making the scriptures available to people outside the clergy by translations from Latin into local languages. He saw the Roman Catholic Church as a necessary source of idealism and as an educational institution that stood above secular government and politics.

Another humanistic Roman Catholic was an Englishman named Thomas More. More was thirty-eight when, in 1516, King Henry VIII of England sent him as ambassador to Flanders, and there Thomas More found time to write Utopia, his version of the perfect society. His Utopia was a move away from the view that the world of mortals was the product of corruption through sin. According to More, vices and civil disorders were the product of greed and private property protected by governments. Thomas More favored sharing property. He was a communist -- as had been Plato in his Utopia and as had been the early Christians. But, unlike Plato's Utopia, in More's ideal society all adults worked and everybody spent a part of the day in intellectual activity. In More's utopia all children were educated and develop their minds, with education and the nurturing of reason continuing into adulthood.

The Papacy to 1517

The pope from 1492 to 1503, who took the name Alexander VI, patronized the arts and was appreciated by some for his humanism. Alexander promoted peace between Spain and Portugal. And, it is said, he was kind toward Jewish refugees from Spain. But some Roman Catholics were unhappy with the pope because of the mistress and children he had acknowledged.

Alexander VI was followed by Pius III, another pontiff from a family of great wealth. Pius III had been an archbishop without having taken a priest's order -- which he took on becoming pope. Then, within a month he died and was followed by Julius II. Julius was ill-tempered, concerned with art and with Italian politics. He made Rome a Mecca for artists and art lovers, moving the capital of the Renaissance from the city of Florence to Rome. In 1505 he summoned Michelangelo to Rome, eventually to put him to work on the Sistine Chapel. And he put the artist Raphael to work on the Vatican. Julian was interested in extending the boundaries of the Papal States and expelling foreigners from Italy, and in 1506 he put on his armor and led papal troops against French forces that had invaded Italy. Julian II was followed in 1513 by Leo X, who belonged to the powerful Medici family of Florence. He too was concerned with Italian politics, and he remained interested in advancing opportunities for the House of Medici. Also he loved hunting, games, the performances of plays and going to the ballet. He was a patron of the fine arts and of humanists, none of which detracted from his saying his prayers regularly and fasting three times a week. But he spent the papal treasury dry. His lack of funds kept the artist Raphael annoyed in idleness. And Pope Leo was in need of money with which to pay off a bank loan for construction of Saint Peter's Basilica.

Germany and Protest by Martin Luther

Germany was divided into hundreds of states, many of them only semi-independent and belonging to what was called the Holy Roman Empire. Each of the states of the Holy Roman Empire was ruled by a prince, also called an "elector," whose powers were limited by powers that belonged to cities and ecclesiastic establishments within the Prince's realm. One of the Holy Roman Empire's more powerful elector-princes was Frederick of Saxony, who forbade the sale of indulgences within his realm. Indulgences involved payment in coin to a priest for the purpose of relief from guilt of sins, release from purgatory and assurance of a place in heaven. And defying Frederick, many people were crossing Saxony's border into Jüterbog or Thuringia to buy these indulgences.

Another who disliked indulgences was an Augustinian friar and professor of theology at a university founded by Frederick, in the town of Wittenberg. This was Martin Luther, who disliked seeing poor Germans giving up scarce coins that would be going to Rome. But rather than economics, Luther's foremost concern was religion. Luther approved of the view of the humanist priest Jacques Lefever d'Etaples that more devotion to reading the Bible and a more accurate reading of the Bible would lead to people living better lives. He had been tormented by whether he was worthy of salvation. Then he found assurance in the Bible in the idea of forgiveness of sins: that God forgave individuals by their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, without the intercession of a priest. Luther found in the Scriptures no support for indulgences and believed that indulges were of no value to a sinner.. He worried over his questioning of the Church, asking himself whether he alone was so wise and whether centuries of Church policy could be wrong. But he answered his own question, concluding that authority lay in the Bible.

Then, in 1517, a priest arrived in Wittenberg selling indulges for the sake of raising money for Leo X and the construction at the Vatican. Luther's response was to write a letter, sent at the end of October, 1517, to Germany's most powerful churchmen, the twenty-seven year-old Archbishop of Mainz, Albrecht of Hohenzollern. The letter was received on November 17 -- the speed of mail in those times. The letter was respectful, asking the "Lord God to guard and guide" the Archbishop and without sarcasm Luther described himself as "the scum of the earth." He asked the Archbishop to look at the propositions he had enclosed -- the 95 theses that Luther is rumored to have also nailed to the door of the Wittenberg church. -- propositions that included Luther's opposition to indulgences.

The Archbishop responded to Luther's propositions by writing a letter to Pope Leo X. Much letter writing followed as Luther's propositions stirred much debate. Some complained that to deny the legality of indulgences was to deny the authority of the pope who had authorized them. Luther acknowledged this, saying that the pope had no such authority. The Church demanded that Luther retract a number of his protests. And rather than retract, Luther described the Church as its people. He announced that he was bound by the Holy Scriptures alone and that it was neither safe nor right for him to go against his conscience.

It was an age when diversity in opinion was less expected and less tolerated, giving Luther more attention than would any dissenting professor, for example, at the beginning of the twenty-first century. And Luther had at his disposal what dissidents had lacked in previous centuries: the printing press. Luther wrote pamphlets explaining his positions. Printing in Europe was by now around seventy-five years-old and had been largely of expensive ecclesiastical books in Latin, which few people read. Luther's pamphlets were only a few pages, quickly printed for little money, and they cost little to buy. Across the year 1518 and into1520, thirty of Luther's pamphlets were printed, while those wishing to counter Luther's opinions had difficulty getting published -- publishers having little interest in publishing pamphlets for which there was little demand.

On June 15, 1520, the papacy ordered Luther's works burned, and the papacy gave Luther sixty days to recant if he were to prevent his being excommunicated. After the sixty days passed, Luther was ordered to appear before representatives of the Pope and before the Holy Roman Emperor -- scheduled for April, 1521 at Worms. That year, as Luther passed through towns on his way to his appointment, jubilant crowds turned out to see him. The emperor, Charles V, now twenty-one, had just been made king of Spain and Holy Roman Empire, inheriting these positions as the head of the Habsburg family. He looked down upon Luther but had more troubling concerns. At the meeting, Luther was accused of heresy, and Luther announced that he could not and would not recant anything, "for it is neither safe nor right," he said, "to go against conscience. God help me. Amen."

Luther's statement rang across Europe. Luther was declared a heretic. Luther went into hiding in one of Frederick's castles, and the Church declared Luther an outlaw. Charles left Germany and would not return for a decade. Unofficially a war between Charles and the King of France had begun with the French invasion across the Pyrenees into Navarre and a French march eastward against Luxembourg. It was the beginning of an exhausting war that was to last nearly forty years. Charles left Germany in turmoil and fragmented. And some Princes in northern Germany sided with Luther, hoping to strengthen themselves as the expense of Charles.

While in hiding, Luther began translating the New Testament from Latin into German, to make the Bible available to more people. Luther pursued his belief that people found grace through faith and study rather than through sacraments performed by priests. God, he held, was gracious rather than vindictive. And by now he was also advocating marriage for the clergy. He saw celibacy as a cruel defiance of the sexual drive that God had ordained for the purpose of begetting children.

Luther was appealing more to individualism than the community of faith practiced by the Church, and he appealed to the empire's individualitic-minded middle class -- the bourgeoisie -- who preferred his appeal to intelligence rather than to childlike obedience. The bourgeoisie found Luther's belief in an individual's direct access to God attractive. They shared Luther's nationalism and indignation at the sight of Italian clerics taking money from Germans. They shared Luther's brand of discipline as opposed to the tradition of saintliness through poverty. And, with the help of the bourgeoisie, Protestantism spread, while the Church was maintaining its internationalism and maintaining its hold on conservative owners of estates.

Protestants with a variety of views were flocking to Luther's banner -- the beginning of the fragmentation that would be Protestantism into the 21st century. There were those who found no support for infant baptism in scripture and supported baptism only for believers. They were derisively called Anabaptists. Some of them espoused egalitarianism and other revolutionist doctrines, and they found followers mainly among the poor. They revolted against princely authority, led by Thomas Münzer, the Lutheran pastor at the German town of Zwickau -- about fifty miles north of what is now the Czech border.

Luther was unhappy about the diversity appearing among the Protestants. He was no defender of choice in religious conviction. He believed that God had spoken clearly and that no excuse existed for deviation. Truth for Luther was not a matter of interpretation. Truth for Luther was absolute and people who strayed from that truth were in error.

Peasants Revolt and Princes Dominate

Luther's movement coincided with unrest among German peasants and added to their unrest, as did crop failures in 1523 and 1524. Republicanism -- opposition to royal authority -- also contributed to unrest among the peasants, republicanism in Switzerland spilling northward across the Swiss border into that part of Germany where the peasant uprising in 1524 began. The rebelling peasants denounced feudal oppression. They complained of nobles having seized lands that had traditionally been used by all -- a part of the trend of the rich and powerful becoming richer and more powerful. The rebelling peasants complained of new rents and new obligations imposed on them by the owners of land, and of death duties in the form of a peasant's best horses or cows.

Luther approved of the demands made by the protesters -- one of which was the right to choose their own ministers. Luther urged the princes to accept those demands that were reasonable. Frederick of Saxony was the only prince who had some sympathy for the peasants, saying that the poor were in many ways oppressed. Frederick hoped for a peaceful settlement with the peasants, but he died on May 4, 1525. Meanwhile, the demands of the peasants had been rebuffed, and protest by the peasants had turned violent and to pillage. Luther feared that the peasants would discredit his movement in the eyes of the princes and the upper classes. Luther took literally Paul's words, described in Rom_13:1-2, that every soul should be subject "to the higher owners." He declared that Christians had to accept the government that was put over them and had to accept with patience their sufferings, that their rulers might be damned by God for their injustices but that nobody fighting these injustices would enter heaven. Rebellion, he added, hastened the end of civilized society.

Luther called on the princes to crush the rising. He declared that if there were innocent people among the rebels that God would save them, that no mercy should be given them. The princes did not need Luther's encouragement. The armies of Protestant as well as Catholic princes overwhelmed the rebels -- as armies usually did against pockets of rebels. Historians estimate that over 75,000 peasants were killed in 1525. The victorious German princes claimed the right to determine the religion of their subjects. Those princes who had converted to Lutheranism took control of local Lutheran churches. Ten years later the Prince of Waldeck, would crush the Anabaptist society at Münster, diminishing the Anabaptist movement.

The Lutheranism Spreads, Erasmus Remains Catholic

The Lutherans abolished confession, an abolition that appealed to women wishing freedom from embarrassing observations about their sexual lives. In Lutheran schools, boys and girls became literate in the catechism and the Bible. The Lutherans abolished monasticism and emphasized the home as a special domain of the wife and a place of love, tenderness and reconciliation. The Lutherans allowed their clergy to marry, making it possible for those women who had been the concubines or mistresses of priests to become honorable wives. In 1525, Luther's sexual frustration came to an end: around the are of forty-three he married a former nun, Kathrina von Bora, and he was to father six children.

Luther's movement also proliferated. By 1522 his movement had taken hold in the city of Bremen. By 1523 it had taken hold in the city of Strasbourg, and by 1529 in Hamburg. And Protestantism spread to the Netherlands.

Sweden had freed itself from rule by Danish royalty in 1520, and its new king, Gustavus Vasa, owed much money to his supporters at Lübeck, in northern Germany. To liquidate this debt he raised taxes and asked for a special contribution from the Church. The Church refused. Luther's ideas were migrating to Sweden, and the New Testament was translated in Swedish in 1526. The following year the king, still short of money, decreed that the Church was to surrender part of its income to the Crown, all its castles and all donations it had received since 1454. Church estates were transferred to the crown. The power of the Church in Sweden was broken. Religion was organized along strictly Lutheran lines, and upper clergy were now to have more common origins. As the Church saw it, selfish rulers were increasing their political power and wealth at the expense of the Church.

Arguments between the Lutherans and loyal sons of the Catholic Church continued. In keeping with the custom of debate in those times, spokesmen for the Church hurled vulgar epithets at Luther and his followers and Luther hurled epithets back. Erasmus was an exception and stuck to tempered observations. He saw Lutherans yielding no less to luxury, lust and greed than did Catholics, and he disliked the fanaticism that he saw in Lutheran evangelists. Erasmus saw Catholics that he also disliked, but he said that "one bears more easily the evils to which one is accustomed" and that therefore, he said, he would stay within the Church.

Charles VI against the Pope, France and Venice

In 1523 a forty-five year-old became pope, and he took the name Clement VII -- the second pope from Florence's most wealthy and powerful Medici family. Looking after the interests of the papacy and the Medici he aligned himself with Charles V. Francis I of France had been driven out of Naples, Milan and Burgundy and was set on winning back lost territory. Then Clement switched sides, believing that Charles had become too powerful in Italy. Clement joined an alliance that included France and Venice. Francis sent an army back to Italy, and his move was opposed by Charles. The mobilized force of Francis, Venice and the papacy were easily overcome by the forces that Charles could rally. But chaos was involved. In 1527, an army of Germans , Italian and Spanish mercenaries on Charles' side mutinied over not having been paid and their hunger. Led by the Duke of Bourbon, and without artillery, they broke through feeble defenses and plundered Rome. Clement fled to safety in the Castle of St. Angleo, from which he could hear the screams of his flock as men, women and children were butchered.

News of the atrocity spread across Europe and aroused outrage. Public opinion in Italy put the position of Charles in Italy in jeopardy -- although Charles had not been directly responsible for the outrage. But Charles held on. The Medici were expelled from Florence, and Clement felt obliged to come a client of Charles. The French won victories in Lombardy (northern Italy) in August, 1527. In the summer of 1528, the French attacked Naples from the sea, but without much success. The following year, Pope Clement made peace with Charles by signing a treaty with him -- the Treaty of Barcelona -- which restored Medici rule in Florence in return for Charles being crowned by the Pope.

Henry VIII

Pope Clement was also having problems with King Henry VIII of England, seemingly a lesser problem than he had been having with Charles, but in consequence it was to prove greater. Henry had heaped scorn upon Luther and his theology, seeing Luther as creating subversion of the structure of Christendom, winning for himself the title of "Defender of the Faith." Then Henry became attracted by Anne Boleyn, the daughter of one of the gentlemen at his court. Henry wished to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. Catherine had given him six children, only one of which, a female, having survived. Henry also had a son, but he was illegitimate, and Henry (only in his mid-thirties) said that he wanted to spare England another disputed succession, or war -- such as the War of the Roses. Henry sought annulment also on the grounds that his marriage to Catherine was against scripture, Catherine having been the wife of Henry's late brother, Arthur. Henry was complaining that God was denying him a male heir for having married his brother's widow.

Pope Clement ignored Henry's request for annulment and was busy over matters with Charles. Granting an annulment, moreover, would have been an admission that his predecessor, Pope Julius, had erred, giving the Lutherans ground for the accusation that the papacy substituted their own judgments for the Law of God. Henry was accustomed to having his way, and he was enraged by Clement's inaction. Henry married Anne Boleyn in secrecy on January 25, 1533. On May 28, the archbishop in England, Cranmer, pronounced the marriage valid and Henry's marriage to Catherine invalid. In June, Anne was crowned queen in Catherine's place, and in September Anne gave birth to a daughter -- the future Elizabeth I. The papacy refused to recognize Henry's moves regarding his wives, and Henry in turn removed the Church in England from the papacy's jurisdiction, a move that had the support of England's parliament, and a move that included the dissolution of monasteries and the transfer of much wealth from the Catholic Church to England's monarchy.

The Pope that followed Clement, Paul III, excommunicated Henry in 1535. To dissuade Englishmen from Protestantism, Paul condemned as slaves all those who would desert the Church, as he offered such slaves as booty to any crusader who would overthrow Henry. Henry, meanwhile, thought himself competent enough in theology to lead the Church of England, and he was executing various Catholics, as well as Protestants. Among those in disfavor with Henry was Thomas More, who had marked himself for vengeance by having refused to attend the coronation of Anne. On July 7, 1535, More was executed, his head, as was the custom, was then displayed on London Bridge.

Queen Anne (Boleyn) gave birth to a dead male child in late January, 1536. Henry's interest in women had wandered, and to rid himself of Anne he accused her of having practiced witchcraft against him and he had her charged with adultery. She was executed on May 19, 1536, and the following day Henry married Jane Seymour. Jane Seymour died in 1537. In January 1940 Henry married Anne of Cleves, and he had their marriage declared null and void in July. He married Katherine Howard that same month and had her beheaded on February 13, 1542. Meanwhile, an act of parliament had elevated Henry from Lord of Ireland to King of Ireland. Henry wished to make Catholic Ireland obedient. He would liked to have exterminated the stubborn Irish, but this was recognized as requiring too much "difficulty."

Charles and Pope Paul III against German Princes

Followed the tradition of promoting members of one's own family, Pope Paul III placed his bastard son Pier Luigi Farnese in the duchy of Parma, and he made his teenage grandsons cardinals. Paul was also a humanist and a patron of art. He had Michelangelo, at age 59, return to work finishing the "Last Judgment " in the Sistine Chapel. And Paul was a reformer. He was opposed to enslavement of Indians in the Americas. He appointed learned men and reformers as cardinals, several of whom were recognized as men of spirituality, replacing worldly Renaissance princes. Paul put reformers in charge of education. Against the protests of those with injured interests he began to reform various papal offices. Paul supported reformer bishops, and he gave support to new orders, including the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits -- a mendicant order interested in Church reform and an aggressive support of Catholicism through travel and teaching.

Paul's zeal for reform was matched by his zeal to advance Roman Catholicism over Protestantism. He was concerned with dissidents within Catholic communities corrupting others. The dissenters were to be expelled from the community. Paul established a new Index of forbidden books. For the purpose of bringing Protestants back to the Church and obedience, in 1545 he called for a council to meet at the town of Trent.

Paul III joined an alliance with Charles against the Lutheran princes of the Schmalkaldic League. In 1542, this league had attacked the Duchy of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, the last bulwark of Catholicism in northern Germany. Charles had considered it a "breach of the public peace," and after Charles made peace again with France, in 1544, he moved against the Schmalkaldic League in an effort to bring greater unity to his Holy Roman Empire and to eliminate treason. Combating Lutherans was a cause Paul was enthusiastic about, and he promised Charles an army and a subsidy to fight the League. Paul sent his grandson as commander of the papal army. The Schmalkaldic League mobilized a larger force than did Charles, but the force was disunited indecisive, and the forces with Charles triumphed. In victory Charles was moderate, still hoping to win their allegiance and their reconciliation with Catholicism, while Pope Paul, in his late seventies but still filled with zeal, was disappointed with Charles for his moderation and having cut short the war against the Lutheran heretics.

Charles pursued his interest in healing the split between the Church and the Lutherans, believing that a voluntary reconciliation would help unify his Holy Roman Empire. The French joined Pope Paul in opposition to reconciliation, the French seeing benefit in a divided Germany. Charles hoped that reconciliation could be achieved at the Church's Council at Trent. Portugal, Spain, Hungary and Ireland sent representatives to Trent, but few German states did. And Paul transferred the Council from Trent to Bologna, angering Charles, who ordered his subjects to stay with the council at Trent.

The Calvinists

In Christendom, separation from the Church made possible religion connected to a city, and this arose in Geneva, Switzerland. Invited to Geneva was John Calvin, a Protestant who had been driven out of Catholic France in 1541, at around the age of thirty-two. Calvin accepted the invitation to assist in the Reformation in Geneva -- to be known as a "a city that was a church."

Calvin believed that God's power was absolute. The tradition among Christians of glossing over the contradiction between God's power being absolute and humanity having the power to choose was not one of Calvin's weaknesses: he had decided that humanity was without a free will. Calvin believed that one's fate was determined by God -- what some call predestination -- which had had been accepted, at times at least, by the Apostle Paul and St. Augustine.

Predestination left people unable to chose virtue for the sake of salvation. Nevertheless, in Geneva, Calvin urged people to a higher morality. And, in keeping with his belief in predestination, it was Calvin's view that God had called on him to preach, which he could have expressed as "God made me do it." Carrying out God's plan for virtue, the city of Geneva established a set of questions and answers as a guide for daily living for the city's children and adults. City government included a body called the Consistory, whose duty was to watch over everyone's life and to admonish those it had decided were leading "a disorderly life." It was a twentry-first century Libertarian's nightmare with Calvin believing that the Consistory's activities should be thorough and that its eyes should be everywhere. Despite everyone's helplessness before God's supreme power, Calvin saw city authority as "medicine to turn sinners to the Lord." The city promoted austere living, fasting and maintained a curfew. Fancy clothing was as unwelcome in Geneva as it would be among the Red Guards in Mao's China. And dancing and card playing were prohibited.

Geneva became well-known as a city of morality, and it attracted people, many of them refugees from France, England, Spain, Scotland and Italy. One such refugee was the Spanish humanist Michael Servetus, who had been arrested by the Inquisition for denying the Trinity. Servetus also believed that mortal sins were committed not by children but only adults -- people under twenty. His views impressed Geneva's authorities as dangerous, "especially," said one, "with the young so corrupted." Threatened, Servetus asked to be allowed to leave Geneva. Instead, in the city of morality, he was burned at the stake.

Western Europe and the Papacy to 1563

Henry VIII died in 1547. A son who had been born to Jane Seymour reigned as Edward VI, but he was sickly and died in 1553. He was succeeded by Mary, the devout Catholic daughter of Catherine of Aragon She began her rule with clemency for those who had taken up arms against her, and she pursued a policy of reconciliation. Then, however, she announced that she would marry son of Charles V: Philip of Spain. Opposed to England becoming tied to Spain, insurrections broke out against Mary. The rebellions were quelled, She married Philip in July 1554, and she launched an effort to return the realm to Catholicism. This and her reign were unpopular. She remained kindly toward those she thought of as the poor, but she had several hundred Protestants burned at the stake. Many Protestants fled to the continent, and the devout Mary was to become known as "Bloody Mary."

On the continent in 1555, the Peace of Augsburg was concluded, which recognized the right of each prince in the Holy Roman Empire to choose between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, and to impose the religion of his choice to his subjects. Charles V, the Habsburg monarch, and emperor, abdicated in 1556 and divided his holdings between his sons Philip and Ferdinand, Philip's domains included Spain, parts of the Americas, the Netherlands, Sicily and parts of Italy such as Milan and Naples. Philip was the most powerful ruler in Europe. Ferdinand acquired the Holy Roman Empire, consisting largely of Germany. In 1557, the monarchy in France lost its holdings in Italy, France not having the sea power or the manpower for garrisons necessary to maintain such territory. French armies in Italy had always melted away from want of financial maintenance or the diseases. The result was sixty years of effort by the French was for them a failure and devastation for Italy.

In 1558, Mary (not to be confused with Mary Stuart) died, and her half sister, Elizabeth I became queen of England and Ireland, a woman whose regal bearing and intelligence impressed England's folk. Elizabeth's reign began with enthusiastic support in England, and she inaugurated political and religious stability in the country and aloofness from Spain. Elizabeth had been reared a Protestant, and she was ill disposed to Roman Catholic jurisdiction which did not recognize the legitimacy of her birth. Protestant exiles returned to England, and they advocated England's church be purified of its remnants of Catholicism, and they were to become known as Puritans. But Elizabeth kept to middle ground. She did not care what people believed so long as they kept quiet about it. What she was insistent upon was dignity in church services and political order.

Elizabeth governed without use of ecclesiastics in foreign or domestic bureaucratic affairs. Archbishops were restricted to church affairs. During her reign, Protestantism became firmly established in England, and England developed further as a sea power.

Pius IV and Church Reforms

Pope Pius IV (who reigned from 1559 to 1565) was a reformer. The spirit of the times was harder on licentiousness than early in the century, and Pius IV moved against that and corruption. In Rome, he was to be remembered for having swept from office the disreputable nephews of Pope Paul IV. Also he drove the prostitutes from Rome, but many others left with them and the city suffered such a loss of revenue that Pius was forced to rescind his prohibition. Pius raged against financial corruption and swept aside clerics convicted of blackmail and embezzlement -- including some of his relatives. He restored the Council of Trent, which had begun in 1545, and, toward the end of 1563, the intermittent discussions at the Council of Trent were concluded.

The Council of Trent brought change to the Roman Catholic Church. The Clergy was to be more disciplined and was to have higher educational standards. Clerics who kept concubines were to give them up. Bishops would be required to live in their own diocese. They were to have almost absolute jurisdiction there, and they were to visit every religious house in their jurisdiction at least once every two years. Every diocese was to have a seminary for educating and training the clergy, and those who were poor were to be given preference in admission. Efforts were made toward giving instruction to the laity, especially the uneducated, and sermons were allowed in the language of common people. The sale of indulgences and Church offices was condemned, and so too was nepotism. And music in church was to fit with the occasion of solemnity, matching a new era of choral music and composition had begun in the 1500s.

The conclusions at Trent also had a conservative element. Emphasis was given to the study of scripture, but that part of Christianity the was tradition and could not be found in scripture were to be maintained. An effort had been made to give the Church Council authority over the Pope, but without success. The Council was to have the exclusive right to elect a pope, but all acts of the Council were to require the Pope's approval. And the Church recognized the Latin translation of the Bible as the only authoritative version.

Pope Pius V and defeat of the Ottoman Turks

Pius IV died in 1565 and was followed by Pius V. Pius V had taught philosophy and theology for several years and had served as an inquisitor. He was a man of austerity and prayer. His well known asceticism supplied the papacy with more prestige. He set his heart on carrying out the reforms of Trent, and he was also interested in extirpating heresy. He tried without success to end bull fighting in Spain. In 1570, he excommunicated Queen Elizabeth. Also, he was concerned about what he saw as the menace of the Ottoman Turks. In 1570, the Ottoman Turks captured Cyprus from rule by Venice, which had had no allies in battle. Christian communities along the Mediterranean coast in West Asia shook with fear. Pius V allied the Church with Venice, and Philip II entered the alliance. In 1571, a force of more than 300 ships, supplied by Venice, Spain and a small squadron from the Papal states, met the Turks inside the Gulf of Lepanto -- the last great battle with oar propelled vessels. The Christian alliance lost around 8000 killed and 12 galleys, the Ottomans lost an estimated 25,000 killed and 117 galleys. From the Ottoman ships the Christians seized 15,000 Christians said to have been slaves. It was the first defeat of an Ottoman force -- a victory that Pope Pius V attributed to the intercession of Saint Mary. But it was not a totally effective intercession: the Ottomans immediately began to rebuild their navy. Ottoman naval superiority in the Mediterranean was soon restored, and Cyprus was not recovered.