Some more from the story I am working on:
“Luther was summarily excommunicated for his beliefs but no matter. For what was the authority of the Church or the Pope if not for God’s laws and the word of Jesus Christ as the only true word for a God fearing Christian to believe.
“In spite of all of this, it was a wonderful time to be alive, to be a Christian and to be free of the financial burden, encumbrances and stranglehold of a pompous papacy. For the working classes, of which I now belonged, it was also a very, very dangerous time.
“What were the consequences of this religious reformation and the 95 Theses of Martin Luther? Churches were burned or stripped bare of any vestiges of Catholicism; religious icons were demolished and destroyed; defrocked Priests and Nuns were suddenly free to marry; Papal Bulls galore, excommunications, heretical dictates, the Inquisition, murders, debauchery, fraud, licentiousness, wars and purges. Life was anything but boring in this new awakening.
“As this reformation took hold across much of Europe and the British Isles there was no turning back as new leaders of the Reformation would emerge. John Calvin, born in Picardy France, schooled in Paris, and enemy of Catholic France, practiced and preached his unique form of Protestantism in Switzerland and Strasbourg. He was a liturgical genius who transcribed what could be called a religious Declaration of Independence, his “Institutes.” In them he laid down the foundation and pillars of worship for this new form of worship. His sermons in Geneva were legendary so much so that the city fathers protected him from every threat that could be conceived by the Catholic Church to undermine his personal security. His work emerged as seminal and his doctrine, interpretation of the word of God and his view of worship ultimately spread to France, the Lowlands, Switzerland, Germany, the New World and South Africa. Italy was a non sequitur to this new doctrine of Christ. France was unique however in that France could not decide how it would go. Nationally, officially, this country was Catholic but there were many who leaned toward the Protestant way. Huguenots, The House of Burgundy were renowned in the Protestant faith but a purely Machiavellian scheme by Catherine de Medici arose to undermine the Protestant cause. This led to the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in August, September, 1572 in which up to 30,000 French Protestants were killed in Paris and outward across France. If anything else the efficacy of killing in the name of the Catholic faith was impressive and without equal.
“St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was the worst of the religious skirmishes to date although there was worse to come. The 80 years war between Spain and the Low Countries, 1568 – 1648, would result in the Dutch Republic and Dutch Calvinism and the Dutch “Golden Era”. The 30 Year’s War, 1618-1648, enveloped much of central Europe and culminated with the Treaty Of Westphalia of 1648. The interesting thing about the 30 Year’s War was its brutality. Ferdinand II of the Holy Roman Emperor thought to impose Catholicism as the national and only religion across his entire empire. Naturally, this sparked outrage and rebellion. He failed to implement his Catholicism at great cost in human and material resources. It is thought that up to 8 million fatalities occurred, about a third of the population of Europe. Most of the European nations and nation or city states were engaged in this Protestant versus Catholicism conflict. The plague returned. Famine was rampant. Religious fervour, especially Catholicism, was severely undermined. It would never return as the dominant form of worship in Europe. Westphalia? Finally, officially, underscored and under written by a political treaty, meant religious freedom and respite from the shackles of Rome, the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. Westphalia also meant the genesis of the European nation states.
“Who would have thought that such carnage could occur over the Love of Christ? We here in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland however were not immune to the chaos. While Europe was aflame in one of the most terrifying and devastating conflicts in World History, we were experiencing our own form of religious terrorism. This so called religious reformation was evident in our island nation. Our King, Henry VIII, watched the events of Reformation Europe unfold with the writings and teachings of Martin Luther and later John Calvin. However he was not a admirer of this monk and publicly criticized and adopted religious change but purely for his own selfish reasons.
“This Martin Luther is an abomination, a religious zealot, insane, with the peasant mind. These 95 Theses? Religious, heretical trash from the mind of a mad monk” so thought Henry VIII. He added to that with his infamous pamphlet “Defence of the Seven Sacraments.”
You can imagine how Pope Leo X viewed Henry’s remarks.
“The defender of the Faith.” he exclaimed of the robust, dynamic and influential monarch.
“I am “The Defender of the Faith” retorted Henry, who was justly proud of this confer and publicly rejoiced in the papal laurel right up until he died. Indeed the English Kings and Queens right up to your day and age still confer upon themselves this title, proudly.
Too bad these brothers didn’t get along. Great group.
Have a great day.