Religion in the Renaissance
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.
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*
- Pope Nicholas V (1447 - 1455)
- Pope Pius II (1458 - 1464)
- Pope Sixtus IV (1471 - 1484)
- Pope Alexander VI (1492 - 1503)
- Pope Julius II (1503 - 1513)
- Pope Leo X (1513 - 1523) -- Pope at the time of Martin Luther's protest in Wittenburg.
- Girolamo Savonarola (1452 - 1498), a noted anti-Renaissance preacher, Dominican priest, and book-burner.
(*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
- John Wyclif (1320 - 1384), English professor of Oxford university, whose teachings influenced
- John Huss (1369 - 1415, burned at the stake), an early reformer in southern Bohemia and founder of the Hussites.
- Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), the founder of Lutheranism
- Huldreich Zwingli (1484 - 1531), mad as a cut snake and the founder of the Reformation in Switzerland, especially Zurich.
- John Calvin (1509 - 1564), the founder of Calvinism, which was the religious basis of the Huguenots in France and the Presbyterians of Scotland and elsewhere.