The Protestant Reformation was a 16th century movement originally aimed at reforming the Catholic Church. Indirectly, its original motives were realized through the Catholic Counter-Reformation. However, the Protestant Reformation soon sought to break away from the Catholic Church for a variety of different reasons. Despite beginning as a religious movement, the Protestant Reformation came to incorporate political and economic motives as well. Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-Five Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation.
Luther’s Theses were in direct response to the Church’s selling of indulgences, the sale of an exemption from sin. Luther felt that one could not simply buy oneself out of hell or purgatory. Further, his beliefs were born out of Luther’s deeply religious character, forever frightened by God’s impending judgment. With the advent of the printing press, Luther gained many genuine, religious followers. For example, Luther felt that women should not be required to confess their sins through a male priest; rather, women could confess directly to God.
Luther also had other followers who had ulterior, political motives, like the German princes. German princes, like Luther’s protector Frederick the Wise, saw in Luther a patriotic mascot for their fight for power and independence against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The Valois kings of France also supported Protestantism despite being Catholic. Because France was involved in a war with Charles V, the French kings sought to use Protestantism to further splinter the German territories, weakening Charles V.
... Catholic church at the time of the Protestant Reformation. This can be distinguished clearly from a letter written by Luther in 1535 saying, "A German, ... The second reason that the Protestants revolted against the rule of the Catholic Church was the practice of simony. ... bringing about the Protestant reformation, not only through his way of living and his unawareness of church protocol, but through ...
Another king, Henry VIII also had political motives for breaking from the Catholic Church. Despite Catholicism being healthy in England, Henry VIII decided to steer England to Anglicanism, so that he could legally divorce his wife. Henry VIII, like many other Protestant political allies, also had economic side-motives. After imposing the Reformation in England, Henry VIII proceeded to dissolve English monasteries. Before, these church lands were tax-exempt.
After dissolution, these monasteries became land for Henry VIII to sell and gain allies with. Another economic motive was to stop the flow of money from Europe to the Catholic Church’s city of choice: Rome. Many rulers resented the high taxes and inordinate tithes the Church demanded. Politics, economics and religion all played a part in propelling the Protestant Reformation forward. However, although the Protestant Reformation began as a religious event, it began to use economic reasons to fuel its ultimately political goals.
For instance, Henry VIII and the German princes wove economic and religious incentives to serve their respective goals of divorcing and gaining power. Further, the Reformation as a mainly political event paradoxically supported secularism, despite being a religious movement. The subordination of economics and religion under politics foreshadowed the emergence of a new political character: the politique, a moderate willing to sacrifice personal beliefs for the good of the state.