Religion in the Renaissance

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Religion in the Renaissance can be best summed up by saying that the Renaissance was a period of huge religious turmoil. The debates between the Humanists and Scholastics eventually lead to the debates that began the Reformation, and many of the religious debates can be broadly (and as inaccurately as broad generalisations usually are) categorised as a battle between the Reformers and the Catholic Church. See Humanists and the Reformation.

The battle between the Reformers and the Catholic Church more properly belongs to the Reformation than the Renaissance however.

Having said that, the man in the street took a much greater interest in religion during the Renaissance than during the Middle Ages -- if only because the religious discourses of the time affected his or her life to a much greater extent than previously. Joe Average of 1540 would be much more likely to hold a strong religious opinion than Joe Average of 1340 -- who would most likely have simply believed whatever he heard at the pulpit.

Important Popes and other Church notables

Important figures of the Reformation

Religion and Free Thought

Note that the reformation didn't always promote religious free thought. Neither Luther nor Calvin were great advocates of free thought -- but perhaps Michael Servetus was. Of course he got burned at the stake for Heresy, in John Calvin's Geneva -- where the Program of Reform in 1523 actually banned all Catholic forms of worship.

While the Hussites were very much in opposition to some of the Catholic church dogma, their insistence that all forms of worship should be strictly in accordance with the Bible was very my-way-or-the-highway.