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You are watching: How did the renaissance influence the reformation


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The Renaissance, in both northern and southern Europe, was a time of renewed critical thinking. Throughout the previous Medieval period, philosophical thought was tied intrinsically to the teachings of the Catholic Church. This served to reaffirm the authority of the Vatican throughout the Middle Ages. However, as an interest in...


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The Renaissance, in both northern and southern Europe, was a time of renewed critical thinking. Throughout the previous Medieval period, philosophical thought was tied intrinsically to the teachings of the Catholic Church. This served to reaffirm the authority of the Vatican throughout the Middle Ages. However, as an interest in humanism and classical thought came to rise during the Renaissance, a new emphasis was placed on the potential of the individual. It encouraged freedom of thought that was often at odds with the established orthodoxy of the Church. This secular way of thinking went a long way to eroding confidence in and the power of the Church.

Once ideas critical to the Catholic establishment began to take hold, they spread easier than ideas had ever spread before. This is largely thanks to the invention of the printing press. For instance, the writings of reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin spread around northern Europe because hundreds of copies of their writings could be printed at a moment"s notice thanks to this machine.

Examining Huldrych Zwingli presents us with a great example of how these changes that occurred as part of the northern Renaissance led to the spread of the Reformation. In the early 1500s, Zwingli was a Catholic priest in Zurich. He had for some time been influenced by the humanist writings of Erasmus, which were popular during this period. They urged him to question the long-entrenched teachings of the Church. It wasn"t long before the writings of Martin Luther reached him from Germany. In 1523, these writings convinced Zwingli to talk the local authorities in Zurich into starting their own church, independent of the Vatican. These ideas soon spread around Switzerland.

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As you can see, if it were not for the philosophical ideas and technological advances of the Renaissance, the Reformation may not have spread very far throughout the region.