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Spread of Lutheranism

Spread of Lutheranism

Martin Luther became disillusioned with certain aspects of the Catholic Church, including indulgences and papal authority. He posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church, Wittenberg, in 1517, beginning the shift away from Catholicism. This led to his ex-communication from the Pope in 1521 and the banning of his work across all Catholic territories. He went into hiding and continued to produce work, including a complete German translation of the Bible, until he died in 1546.

Spread of Lutheranism Definition

Below is a definition integral to the understanding of this explanation.

Spread of Lutheranism

Martin Luther started Lutheranism in 1517, and it became one of the largest branches of Protestantism. Using pamphlets and printing presses, Luther and his followers were able to spread the message of their faith and spread Lutheranism across Europe, especially throughout Germany.

Lutheranism vs Catholicism

In 1517, Luther started the Protestant Reformation, and the belief system that he promoted became known as Lutheranism. 'Lutheranism' had some critical differences from Catholicism, which can be found in the table below.

At the beginning of the Reformation, there was less of an urge to enact the shift away from the Catholic Church. As time moved on, however, significant principalities adopted Lutheranism, such as the areas of Brandenburg-Ansbach by 1528, Wurrtemburg by 1534, Albertine Saxony by 1540, and the Electoral Palatinate by 1546. These significant areas of Germany had moved away from the safety and protection of the Holy Roman Empire and became rebels against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

So why did these areas decide to move towards Lutheranism?

  • There was a political and diplomatic reason to change; i.e. if your neighbours had shifted, it was better to keep them on your side.
  • There was a change in leaders of the principalities: e.g. Albertine Saxony was ruled by Fredrick the Wise until he died in 1525. Although he was sympathetic, he did not impose Lutheranism.
  • John Frederick I was the elector of Saxony from 1532 and imposed Lutheranism as he moved away from traditional ideology.
  • There was an opportunity to gain assets from the Church.
  • There was a genuine belief in Lutheranism and discontent with the role of the clergy in the Church.

Did you know? As Lutheranism started to spread across northern Europe, there were other Reformations taking place. An example of this is the creation of the Anglican Church in 1534. King Henry VIII split from the Roman Catholic Church, rejecting the Roman Catholic Pope's authority in Rome and establishing an independent church in England.

How did Lutheranism spread?

Spread of Lutheranism and the Counter-Reformation

The spread of Lutheranism, although successful in its own right, was not welcomed with open arms by a large part of the population. At first, the Catholic Church deployed high-ranking clergy to debate with Luther over his ideas and allow him to retract his Lutheranism views.

With the failure of this intellectual attack, the Catholic Church fought back against Luther through a threat of military action. Luther and his followers were excommunicated, and their churches were outlawed. This rise in religious tensions started the subsequent response of the Catholic Church, the Counter-Reformation, which meant an increase in Catholic education and missionary work in the hopes of maintaining the power of the Catholic Church.

Spread of Lutheranism - Key takeaways

  • Martin Luther helped establish 'Lutheranism' due to his disagreements with the Catholic Church at the time.
  • Lutheranism spread throughout Germany mainly from a 'top-down' approach, although there was some popular support in significant towns and cities.
  • Europe saw less of a substantial change as the ideals of other reformers became more popular.
  • They were able to take advantage of the 'printing revolution' to make a substantial change around Germany and parts of Europe on major trade routes as it gave a cheap and efficient way of spreading propaganda.
  • The main response to the spread of Lutheranism was the Catholic Church's Counter-Reformation attempts, including the increase in Catholic education and missionaries.

References

  1. Martin Luther, (1529). The Small Catechism of Martin Luther. The Lord's Prayer.
  2. Additional reading: Russel Taar and Kieth Randell, (2015). Luther and the Reformation in Europe, Hodder Education.

Frequently Asked Questions about Spread of Lutheranism

Lutheranism started spreading in the 15th century, and by the 1520s it was widely spread across Europe.

At the start of the Reformation, Lutheranism spread quickly throughout Northern Germany and eventually into Scandinavia. Originating in Germany, Luther posted his 95-Theses in Wittenberg. Lutheranism was established by law in Scandinavia!

Lutheranism spread quickly throughout the 15th century because of the recent invention of the printing press. The printing press allowed Lutheranism to create and duplicate leaflets, pamphlets and ways of spreading their ideas and information which lead to the vast and quick spread of its beliefs.

The main ideas of Lutheranism or being 'Lutheran'  have three main components: Faith, Scripture and Grace alone. Lutheranism states that God loves all freely, even the sinners, rebellious and undeserving. Luther himself argued against the atonement of sins through payments, and against indulgences. These ideas are also reflection in Lutheranism.

Final Spread of Lutheranism Quiz

Question

Which League preceded the Schmalkaldic League?

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Answer

League of Torgau

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Question

Who was the ruler of Saxony during the Schmalkaldic War?

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Answer

John

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Question

Where did John send a large portion of his army?

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Answer

Bohemia.

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Question

Who initially supported the Luther Princes?

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Answer

France

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Question

When did Charles V decide to join the Schmalkaldic War himself?

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Answer

1547

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Question

What happened to John of Saxony following the Battle of Mühlberg?

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Answer

He was imprisoned

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Who was Maurice to John of Saxony?

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Answer

Cousin.

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John's Saxon army was made mostly up of...

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Answer

Peasants 

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Question

What did Martin Luther post on the Door of the Wittenburg Church in 1517?

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Answer

His 95 Theses.

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Question

Which of these was not an aspect of Lutheranism?

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Answer

Papal Authority.

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Where did Lutheranism originate from?

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Answer

Germany.

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Why did the Nobility convert to Lutheranism?

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Answer

There was a change in the leaders of these principalities.

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Where was the Reformation more prominent?

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Answer

Urban Areas.

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Question

Why did the Reformation spread so much in German cities and towns? 

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Answer

There were multiple reasons, such as:

- larger population.

- increased literacy.

- trade networks.

- appealed to the middle class.

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Question

Where else in Europe was there a Lutheran Reformation? 

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Answer

Denmark.

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Question

How did Lutheran Religion spread so quickly across Germany? 

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Answer

A printing revolution.

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Question

How many Schmalkaldic Wars have there been?

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Answer

2.

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Question

Which Catholic town did John Fredrick take with relative ease?

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Answer

Füssen.

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Question

Who was the Pope during the Schmalkaldic War?

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Answer

Paul III.

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Question

Who was the Chief of Charles V's armies during the Schmalkaldic War?

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Answer

Duke of Alba.

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Question

In terms of Clerical Marriage, which religious practice supported it?

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Answer

Lutheranism.

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Question

Lutheranism was against Iconoclasm.

T/F

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Answer

True.

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Question

What is Iconoclasm?

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Answer

The act of removing images or monuments in worship, in other words, the destruction of icons.

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Question

What is the Anglican Church an example of?

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Answer

One of the other religious practices that were created during this period.

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Question

What language did Martin Luther translate the bible into in order to spread Lutheranism?

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Answer

German.

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Question

Why did Martin Luther write his 'Small Catechism'?

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Answer

To spread Lutheranism in education.

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Question

Fill in the blank.

The Catholic Church's first response to the spread of Lutheranism was to send ____ to Luther to ____.

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Answer

Military forces & arrest him.

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Question

Where was the Schmalkaldic League founded?

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Answer

Schmalkalden, Thuringia.

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Question

The Schmalkaldic League was founded in ______.

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Answer

1531.

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Who were the two leaders of the Schmalkaldic League?

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Answer

Philipp I of Hesse.

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Question

When did the Schmalkaldic War begin?

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Answer

1546.

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