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The Reformation Movement

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The reformation movement began in the early 16th century, and was started by Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a religious man, in that he believed in strongly in the scriptures and believed that they held the ultimate authority, and specifically held authority over the Pope and the entire Roman Catholic organization. Martin Luther "protested" the rituals, doctrines and many general practices of the Roman Catholic church. Some would say the movement began officially when Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the church.

After expressing his contentions with Roman Catholic church, he was eventually exiled, however, while in exile he translated a copy of The New Testament into German. This happened to coincide with the printing press becoming popular. The printing press allowed for Luther's book to be widely distributed, and this was one of the main reasons the reformation was able to spread the way it did. There were other people of this time with new ideas who leveraged the use of the printing press to spread their ideas. One of those individuals was Michael Montaigne, who is credited with inventing the essay.

Another key reason the movement was able to spread the way it did was the fact the rebellious attitude towards the authority of the time resonated with the peasant workers. It's notable that the church had already suffered damage to its credibility from 15th century stressors such as the black death. With these well timed events and new technology, Lutheranism became widely popular in northern Europe over the course of the 16th century.

One casualty of the reformation movement was the arts. Lutherans destroyed many artworks of the times and stifled new art. This was done because of the belief held against "worshipping false idols". While art persisted, it's generally creativity and flow was stymied and many artists either stopped producing or turned to more restrained art forms. However, out of this came a new kind of art form that we would refer to as landscape or still picture today. This was brought about by the movement in an attempt to create an art form that fit better with conservative views.

The Catholic Church did not sit idly by however, and did launch a counter reform movement of it's own. While ultimately unsuccessful, it did bring about a period of conflict generally understood to stretch from the middle of the 16th century to the middle of the 17th, ending with the Treaty of Westphalia.

The effects of the Reformation movement can still be felt today with many people still identifying as Protestant or Lutheran.



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