Inflamed by Martin Luther's posting of his theses in 1517, recording the misinterpretations of the Sermon on the Mount and other aspects of the New Testament by the Catholic Church on the doors of the church to Wittenberg, the Reformation attempted to reform the Roman Catholic Church with her false doctrines and malpractices, i.e. the sale of indulgences, as perceived by her opponents.

In Germany, the lines between church and state were blurred. According to Luther, only religion gave people the guidelines for a good Christian life. He criticized the bargaining with redemption and declared that only by the Script, i.e. The Holy Bible, personal faith and God’s good grace one could earn redemption. Luther also condemned the hierarchical structures inside the church and criticized the power the priests held over their largely illiterate flock through the Latin scripture.

Other than the German Reformation, the English Reformation was not dominated by a desire to change the Catholic doctrine, but by political reasons.

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509-1547. He wrote a book against Luther and was therefore appointed “Defender of Faith” by Pope Leo X. When he found out that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, daughter of the King of Spain and widow of his brother Arthur, could not bear him a male heir, he asked for allowance to annul the marriage in order to marry Anne Boleyn. This was not granted by the Pope because of his connections to Spain.

Henry severed his connections to Rome and declared himself Supreme Head of the English Church, which resulted in him being excommunicated. The king closed the monasteries, made them transfer their enormous wealth to the king, and demanded oaths of allegiance affirming his right to the role.

After executing the translator of the Bible, William Tyndale in 1536, he authorized yet another translation of the Holy Scripture into English, called The Great Bible (1539). Every parish church in the country held one copy.

Martin LutherHenry VIII, King of England and Ireland (1509 - 1545)
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