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c. 1517 - c. 1600
John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII, John Knox, Martin Luther
The Protestant Reformation was the religious revolution that took place in the Western church in the 16th century and played a key role in the development of the North American colonies and the eventual United States. Its greatest leaders were Martin Luther and John Calvin. The Reformation became the basis for the founding of Protestantism and the split of the Western Church into Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Protestant Reformation started in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, with the publication of Martin Luther’s "95 Theses" in 1517. Luther argued that the church had to be reformed. However, the pope condemned the Reformation movement, and Luther was excommunicated from the church in 1521.
There were essentially three main reformation movements; one in Germany, one in England, and one in Switzerland - with all of them occurring around the same time in the 16th century. It was led by famous reformers such as John Calvin (1509–1564) and Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) in Switzerland and John Knox (1513–1572) in Scotland. In England the Reformation’s roots were both political and religious. By mid century, Lutheranism dominated northern Europe.
The decades of rebellions, wars and bloody persecutions were consequences of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. But also, it strengthened the intellectual and cultural prosperity.
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