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 studies and teachings of the Humanists eventually lead to 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, or the Humanists and the Scholastics.

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.

  • Anton notes : I'm not at all convinced about most of this, especially the Humanist/Reformation link. I'm seeing real close links between the Gallician program of, say, either the court-centered Wyclif Knights or the pre-Humanist John of Paris (esp 'On Royal and Papal Power') and the program of Martin Luther. The Scholastic/Humanist divide didnt really flow over onto the Catholic/Reformed debate - Italy was pretty darn Humanist, and stayed pretty darn Catholic, and even Erasmus stayed loyal to the Catholic Church in the end. I belive the Reformation was a just the last episode of Imperial-Papal conflict ... and it was the last such, for the conflict destroyed the Holy Roman Empire. I also really disagree with the Joe Average comment - Joe Average almost always did what what he got told, and a bunch of Joe Average's of 1340 were probably priavtely unhappy with the Papacy being in Avignon, and thus under the control of the King of France, rather than it's natural and proper place of Rome*

Important Popes and other Church notables

(*Anton here : Savranola had his issues, but anyone who calls Luther or Calvin a defender of free thought needs some remedial reading. Just ask Micheal Servetus. Wait. You can'y - he got burned at the stake for Heresy, in John Calvin's Geneva*).

Important figures of the Reformation