The Reformation Continues By: Caroline Turner

Calvin Begins Another Protestant Church:

John Calvin was born in France. He grew up to have as much influence on Protestants as Luther did. Calvin would give order to the new faith that Luther had begun.

A picture of John Calvin with the date of his birth and death.

Calvin and His Teachings:

  • In 1536 Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion. It expressed Calvin's ideas about God, salvation, and human nature. It's significant because it created a system of Protestant theology.
  • Calvin thought that men and women were sinful by nature.
  • He believed in predestination, the doctrine that says God has chosen (predestined) who will be saved and that he has known who will be saved since the beginning of time.
  • Calvinism is the religion that is based off of Calvin's biblical teachings.
A copy of Calvin's book, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Calvin Runs Geneva:

  • Calvin believed the ideal form of government was a theocracy, a government controlled by religious leaders.
  • In 1541 Protestants in Geneva, Switzerland asked Calvin to lead their city.
  • Calvin and his followers ran the city according to strict rules.
  • Everyone attended religion class, no card playing, and the wearing of bright clothing was not permitted.
  • Those who broke the rules were imprisoned, excommunicated, or banished.
  • If anyone preached different doctrines they could be burned at the stake.
  • Calvin's Geneva was a model city of highly moral citizens to many Protestants.
A map of Geneva, Switzerland.

Calvinism Spreads:

  • One of the admiring visitors to Geneva was a Scottish preacher named John Knox.
  • When Knox returned home in 1559 he introduced Calvin'a ideas to Scottish towns.
  • Each community church was governed by a small group of laymen called elders or presbyters.
  • Followers of Knox became known as Presbyterians.
  • In the 1560s, Protestant nobles led by Knox succeeded in making Calvinism the official religion of Scotland.
  • The Swiss, Dutch, and French reformers adopted the Calvinist form of church organization as well.
  • One reason Calvin is considered so influential today is because many Protestant churches trace their roots to Calvin. However, over the years many of them softened Calvin's strict teachings.
  • In France, Calvin's followers were known as Huguenots.
  • The hatred between Catholics and Huguenots frequently led to violence, like the outbreak of fury that occurred at the Catholic feast of St. Bartholomew's Day in 1572.
This map shows the spread of Calvinism.

Other Reformers:

Protestants taught that the Bible is the source of all truths about religion and that everyone should read it to discover those truths. As Christians began to interpret the Bible for themselves, new Protestant groups formed over differences in beliefs.

This is a graph detailing the various denominations of Protestantism.

The Anabaptists:

  • Anabaptists believed that only those who were old enough to decide to be Christians should be baptized and that those who had been baptized as children should be rebaptized as adults.
  • They also taught that church and state should be separate and they refused to fight in wars.
  • Anabaptists shared possessions.
  • Anabaptists were viewed as radicals who were a threat to society and were persecuted by both Catholics and Protestants.
  • The Anabaptists survived and became the forerunners of the Mennonites and the Amish.
  • Their teaching influenced the Quakers and Baptists.
This image shows the persecution that the Anabaptists faced from both Catholics and Protestants.

Women of the Reformation:

  • Many women played prominent roles in the Reformation, especially from 1519 to 1550.
  • Marguerite of Navarre, the sister of King Francis I, protected John Calvin from being executed for his beliefs while he lived in France.
  • Katherina Zell, married to prominent reformer Matthew Zell of Strasbourg, once scolded a minister for speaking harshly of another.
  • Luther's wife Katherina von Bora played a more typical, behind-the-scenes role. She managed the family finances, took care of all who visited their house, and supported her husband's work. She submitted to Luther respectfully but also argued with him about women's equal role in marriage. Their well run household became a model for others.
  • As Protestant religions became more firmly established they also became more formal. Male religious leaders limited women's activities to the home and discouraged them from being leaders.
A portrait of Luther's wife Katherina. She and her husband served as a model for others.

The Catholic Reformation:

While Protestant churches won many followers, millions remained Catholic. The Catholic Reformation was a movement to help Catholics remain loyal. One significant Catholic reformer was Ignatius of Loyola.

This image depicts a session of the Council of Trent.

Ignatius of Loyola:

  • He grew up in his father's castle in Spain.
  • He was injured in a war in 1521, which was a significant turning point in his life. While in recovery he thought about his past sins and about the life of Jesus. He believed his daily devotions cleansed his soul.
  • In 1522 he began writing a book called Spiritual Exercises that laid out a day-by-day plan of meditation, study, and prayer.
  • He gathered followers over the next eighteen years.
  • In 1540, the pope made Ignatius' followers a religious order called the Society of Jesus. Members of the order were known as Jesuits.
  • Jesuits concentrated on three activities: founding superb schools across Europe, converting non-Christians to Catholicism, and to stop the spread of Protestantism.
  • The zeal of the Jesuits overcame the drift toward Protestantism in southern Germany and Poland.
The symbol of the Jesuits.

Reforming Popes:

  • Two popes of the 1500s took the lead in reforming the Catholic Church.
  • Pope Paul III, who was pope from 1534 to 1549, took four important steps toward reform. He directed a council of cardinals to investigate indulgence selling and other abuses within the church. He also approved the Jesuit order and used the Inquisition to seek out and punish heresy in papal territory. However, the most important thing he did was call the Council of Trent.
  • The Council of Trent was held between 1545 and 1563.
  • At the Council of Trent, Catholic bishops and cardinals agreed on several doctrines: the church's interpretation of the Bible was final and any Christian who substituted his or her own interpretation was a heretic, Christians need faith and good works for salvation and were not saved through faith alone, the Bible and Church tradition were equally powerful authorities for guiding Christian life, and indulgences were valid expressions of faith but the false selling of indulgences was banned.
  • Paul IV was another reforming pope who vigorously carried out the council's decrees.
  • In 1559 Pope Paul IV had officials draw up the Index of Forbidden Books, a list of books considered to be dangerous to the Catholic faith.
Another depiction of the Council of Trent.

Legacy of the Reformation:

  • The Reformation had lasting effects. Protestant churches flourished, despite religious wars and persecutions.
  • Europe was no longer united in religion because of the Reformation and as the Church's power declined individual monarchs and states gained power, which paved the way for modern nation states.
  • The reformers' successful revolt against Church authority laid the groundwork for the rejection of Christian belief that occurred in Western culture in later centuries.
This is an image of a Protestant church. It's significant because Protestantism and the Reformation helped to set the stage for the modern world through its political and social effects.

Terms and Names:

  • Predestination- doctrine that says God chooses who to save ("the elect") and that he has known who will be saved since the beginning of time.
  • Calvinism- the religion based on Calvin's teachings.
  • theocracy- a government controlled by religious leaders.
  • Presbyterians- followers of John Knox.
  • Anabaptist- a group that believed baptism was for individuals who could profess their Christian faith
  • Catholic Reformation- a movement to help Catholics remain loyal.
  • Jesuits- followers of Ignatius of Loyola and members of the Society of Jesus.
  • Council of Trent- a great council of Church leaders who met in Trent, Italy to agree on several doctrines


"Anywhere forbidden to laugh, or to enjoy food, or to add new possessions to old... or to be delighted with musical harmonies, or to drink wine." - John Calvin

POV Analysis: John Calvin, a leader of the Reformation who believed in predestination, taught strict practices for Christian life in Geneva during the 1500s. Despite his rigid teachings, he also believed people should enjoy God's gifts. The Catholic Church would agree with this particular teaching of Calvin because they also believed people should enjoy the gifts God provided for them.

"Do you call this disturbing the peace that instead of spending my time in frivolous amusements I have visited the plague infested and carried out the dead? I have visited those in prison and under sentence of death. Often for three days and three nights I have neither eaten nor slept. I have never mounted the pulpit, but I have done more than any minister in visiting those in misery." - Katherina Zell (Women of the Reformation)

POV Analysis: Katherina Zell, the wife of a prominent Protestant reform leader who was alive during the 16th century, did a lot of work that was outside of the typical sphere of activities women were confined to, such as visiting prisons. Martin Luther would disagree with her atypical roles because he was of the belief that women were to stay home and manage the household affairs as well as submit to their husbands.

"Just as walking, traveling, and running are bodily exercises, preparing the soul to remove ill-ordered affections, and after their removal seeking and finding the will of God with respect to the ordering of one's own life and the salvation of one's soul, are Spiritual Exercises." - Ignatius of Loyola (Spiritual Exercises)

POV Analysis: Ignatius of Loyola, a prominent leader of the Catholic Reformation in the 1500s, maintained that believers should exercise their souls just as one would exercise their body. The Catholic Church would have agreed with Ignatius because Ignatius was Catholic and taught Catholic doctrines that helped people remain loyal to Catholicism amidst the spread of Protestantism.

Important Dates:

  1. 1522- Ignatius of Loyola published Spiritual Exercises
  2. 1536- Calvin published Institutes of the Christian Religion
  3. 1541- Protestants in Geneva, Switzerland asked Calvin to lead their city
  4. 1545-1563- The Council of Trent
  5. 1560s- Calvinism became Scotland's official religion


  • John Calvin:

John Calvin was significant because he was a leader in the Reformation. His teachings, such as the doctrine of predestination, were extremely influential. Calvinism stemmed from his teachings and many Protestant churches trace their roots to Calvin.

A portrait of Calvin.

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  • Ignatius of Loyola:

Ignatius of Loyola was significant because his teachings were also very influential in the Catholic Counter Reformation. He wrote Spiritual Exercises which laid out daily devotions for Catholics. His followers became a religious order known as the Society of Jesus and the followers were known as Jesuits.

A portrait of Ignatius.

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Created By
Caroline Turner

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