The Council of Trent: The Catholic Church Survives the Reformation

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  • 0:05 Protestant Reformation
  • 0:45 Religious Orders
  • 1:14 Council of Trent
  • 2:16 Counter-Reformation
  • 2:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Elam Miller

Jessica has taught college History and has a Master of Arts in History

The Protestant Reformation was a movement of Christians who disagreed with some of the teachings and actions of the Catholic Church. This article explores the effect of the Reformation on the Church.

The Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation spread throughout Europe after Luther wrote his 95 theses on indulgences
Protestant Movement Spread

The Protestant Reformation was a movement against some of the beliefs of the Catholic Church. The Reformation can mostly be attributed to Martin Luther, a German monk who believed each person should have authority over his religion rather than relying on clergy. One of Luther's biggest concerns was the giving of indulgences (official pardons for sins) for money. He wrote 95 theses regarding indulgences and nailed them to the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The movement exploded from its origins in Germany, spreading across Europe. It found popularity in places like England, Scotland, and France, while it was less popular in southern areas like Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

Religious Orders

Aside from the Protestants, there were also many people who upheld ideas of Catholicism but were still unhappy with political influence and abuse of power within the Church. Religious orders focused on educating and helping the needy in their local areas. Some of the more well-known orders are the Franciscans (originally known as the Capuchins) and the Jesuits. Religious orders helped encourage reform without breaking from the Catholic Church.

The Council of Trent

It's hard to imagine that such a massive movement from the Protestants and Catholic reformers did not completely destroy the Catholic Church, but Catholicism managed to survive. From December 13, 1545, to December 4, 1563, an ecumenical council (councils where Church officials are allowed to vote on decrees that are considered binding to all Christians) convened to address concerns of the Catholic Church. This council is known as the Council of Trent.

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