1.The protestant reformation: was a religious movement which began in the first half of the 16th century, it instigated the division of the Christian church and the founding of protestant churches.

1.1 Causes:

  • The low clergy’s lack of training: the church hierarchy did not give much importance to the training of its priests and many of them did not behave appropriately.

  • The bad example set by the high clergy: the majority of those at the top of the hierarchy occupied positions for their own gain, not respect the customs or morals.

  • The church’s wealth: the high clergy lived a life of luxury, the church possessed extensive lands and taxed the ordinary people. 

  • The buying and selling of ecclestical positions: these positions provided an income and economic rights.

  • The sale of indulgences: when the church needed money, it sold indulgences, through which it helped believers to be forgiven for their sins.

1.2 Luther’s break from Rome: In 1517 criticising the sale of indulgences an other bad practices carried out by the ecclesiastical hierarchy, this marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

  • Free interpretation of the Bible.

  • Forgiveness and salvation do not depend on the good deeds a person does in life, but on faith and God’s will.

  • Rejection of the veneration of the Virgin Mary, saints and holy relics. Rejection of the sacraments, except for baptism and the Eucharist.

  • Opposition to the church owning property and support for the nobles taking over the church possessions.

1.3 The spread of the Reformation: Lutheranism spread rapidly across northern Europe.

  • John Calvin: was a French theologian who spread a type of Protestantism from Geneva in Switzerland. Were based on predestination meaning that people were destined for salvation or damnation from birth. Calvinism spread across Switzerland and to England, France,…

  • Henry VIII to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Therefore, in 1534 he broke with the Catholic Church and the Act of Supremacy was passed.

 2.1 Religious wars: In 1521, the church excommunicated Luther and attempted to prosecute him for heresy. Carlos I, the catholic monarch’s grandson and king of Spain, was appointed emperor in 1519( as Carlos V). Various meetings took place, such as a Diet of Worms, but no agreement was reached. The Catholics considered the Lutherans Protestants, but they referred to themselves as the Reformed. Protestant German princes supported Luther and formed an alliance called the Schmalkaldic Language. Finally, the Peace of Augsburg was signed in 1555, under which the emperor granted the Protestant princes religious freedom.

2.2 The Counter- Reformation: was a religious, intellectual and political movement led by the Catholic Church against the Potestant Reformation.The Council of Trent, which was held between 1545 and 1563, established the Catholic Church’s course of action in three main areas: the clarification of their teachings, internal reform and the repression of Protestantism. 

•The clarification of their teachings. The dogmas and principles that the Protestants had rejected were maintained. These included carrying out good deeds to achieve salvation, observing the seven sacraments, recognising the Pope as the highest authority, venerating the Virgin Mary and the saints, and the need for priests to interpret the Bible to avoid deviations.

• Internal reform. Measures were taken to resolve internal corruption. Seminaries and universities were founded to improve the training priests received. Bishops were more strictly controlled, the sale of indulgences was prohibited and the religious orders were reformed. The Society of Jesus (founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1534, who vowed obedience to the Pope) also gained importance. The Jesuits bécame the main group responsible for spreading the teachings of the Counter- Reformation.

The repression of Protestantism, whose followers were considered heretics. The Inquisition was reinforced and an Index of forbidden books, which opposed the Catholic faith, was published.

The Catholics maintained their power over southern and central Europe.

Sculpture: The faces of sculpture became more expressive. Reflect the dramatic situations in some of the passages of the Bible. The main works done in this style were of religious imagery and were painted wooden carvings and altarpieces( sculptures or paintings which decorated the altar)

  •  Alfonso Berruguete: who produced works such as (The Sacrifice of Isaac) and (The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian).

The monarchs interved the economy, implementing the mercantile system. Under this system, monarchs had to do the following to help the economy prosper: Increase the amount of precious metals, Protect national industries by taxing imported products.

2.3 Economy and society in the 16th century: The economy prospered due to the riches obtained from the Americas, especially silver and gold.

The port of Sevilla monopolised trade with the colonies through the Casa de Contratación. Consequently, the population increased and the cities grew. To protect the ships from pirate attacks, Felipe II organised a fleet system so the voyages between the Americas and Sevilla could be made in groups escorted by warships. The arrival of precious metals on the peninsula affected the Spanish Monarchy in the following ways:

•It enabled the kings to finance the numerous wars they were involved in throughout Europe, meaning that the majority of this wealth ended up outside the Iberian Peninsula. 

•The arrival of metals enriched the nobility. They used silver and gold to buy luxury products, but did not invest in production (which would improve the economy and generate wealth). Therefore, the majority of the population became poorer.

•The craft industry began to grow due to an increase in demand from the American territories. However, the rise in prices made Spanish products more expensive and it became cheaper to buy them abroad. 

•As they had more resources, the monarchs were able to begin more expensive projects. However, when these resources ran out they resorted to increasing taxes. These were collected from the peasants and the bourgeoisie, as the privileged estates (the nobility and the Church) did not have to pay them. 

•The economy continued to be based on agriculture. This meant that the majority of the population became extremely vulnerable when harvests were bad.

At the end of the 16th century, the Spanish economy went into decline. Only small local craft industries, which supplied the limited domestic demand, were able to survive. The major industries, such as the Castilian wool industry and the Crown of Aragón’s textile industry, could not compete with those from abroad. This fall in production also affected trade, as fewer raw materials were bought and sold and the number of products manufactured decreased. This economic decline deeply affected society. The number of people who had to beg to survive increased and many joined the clergy to escape poverty.