How did politics affect the Protestant Reformation?

2 min readdecember 17, 2021

AP European History 🇪🇺

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German Princes and Martin Luther 👑

  • After Luther nailed his 95 Theses and began the Protestant Reformation, traditional authorities in the clergy and nobility wanted to find, try, and execute him.
  • Several princes of small German states desired economic independence from the Holy Roman Empire, and saw an opportunity with Luther.
  • Even as Luther was wanted for heresy, he was provided safe residence in a castle, during which time he wrote and translated The Bible. This allowed individuals to draw their own meanings from it, some of which deviated from the Church. 
  • Luther would eventually show his support for the nobility by denouncing The Peasants' War of 1524-1525, even though this revolt was inspired by his reformation. 

Henry VIII and the Church of England 👰

  • Henry VIII's original queen, Catherine of Aragon, was unable to produce a male heir to the throne.
  • Due to this and his own attraction to a younger mistress, Henry attempted to acquire an annulment of his marriage, which would provide him with the opportunity to remarry.
  • Catherine, however, fought back, because she had a daughter to support, and wrote to the Pope for help.
  • As Pope Clement VII was unable to annul his marriage (Catherine's nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor, had laid siege to Rome), Henry decided to take matters into his own hands.
  • In 1534, Henry's Act of Supremacy created the Church of England, which declared the monarch as its head. This new branch of Christianity incorporated some Lutheran values, the most notable of which were denunciation of Rome, the dissolution of monasteries, and translation of The Bible.
  • His new role allowed him a chance to remarry, which was strictly forbidden in Catholicism.

The Thirty Years' War and Religious Freedom ⚔

  • The first two phases were religious in nature (Bohemian and Danish), with politics intervening during the Swedish phase.
  • Throughout both the Swedish and French phases, significant contributions were made by Catholic France to fight the Catholic Holy Roman Empire (HRE). This action can be seen as a continuation of France's  policy to keep Germany divided and maintain the balance of power in Europe.
  • France's motive was also strengthened by their concern over the Hapsburgs, who dominated the HRE economically, and had royal connections in regions surrounding the country.
  • The war ended with the Peace of Westphalia, which provided for more religious freedom throughout Europe.
  • As most Europeans were allowed to openly practice Protestant religions, these new branches of the faith spread even further.

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🎨Unit 1 – Renaissance & Exploration
⛪️Unit 2 – Reformation
👑Unit 3 – Absolutism & Constitutionalism
🤔Unit 4 – Scientific, Philosophical, & Political Developments
🥖Unit 5 – Conflict, Crisis, & Reaction in the Late 18th Century
🚂Unit 6 – Industrialization & Its Effects
Unit 7 – 19th Century Perspectives & Political Developments
💣Unit 8 – 20th Century Global Conflicts
🥶Unit 9 – Cold War & Contemporary Europe
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