BECK index

Volume 9: Europe & Reform 1517-1588 has been published.
For information on ordering click here.


Luther’s Reforms and Germany 1517-88

Luther Exposes Papist Corruption 1517-20
Luther’s Defense of His Reforms 1520-21
Lutheran Reforms 1521-23

German Peasants’ Rebellion 1524-25

Luther and the Reformation 1525-30

Luther and the Reformation 1531-46

Germany and the Reformation 1546-64

Germany and Catholic Reformation 1564-88

Zwingli, Calvin, and the Swiss

Zwingli of Zurich and Reforms 1517-24
Zwingli, Zurich, and Conflicts 1525-31
Anabaptists in Switzerland 1525-31
Geneva and Calvin’s Reforms 1517-46
Calvinism and Reform 1547-88

Eastern Europe 1517-88

Austria and the Hapsburgs 1517-88
Hungary and Transylvania 1517-88
Bohemia 1517-88
Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt I 1517-48
Poland-Lithuania under Zygmunt II 1548-72
Poland-Lithuania and Batory 1572-87
Russia and Ivan IV 1517-60
Russia under Ivan IV and Boris 1560-88

Scandinavia 1517-88

Denmark 1517-33
Denmark 1533-88
Sweden and Gustav Vasa 1517-60
Sweden under Erik XIV and Johan III 1560-88
Norway 1517-88
Iceland 1517-88

Imperial Spain and Portugal 1517-88

Spain, Charles V, and Comuneros 1517-22
Charles V Ruling in Spain 1522-29
Spain and Emperor Charles V 1530-42
Charles V and His Empire 1543-58
Spain and Felipe II 1556-64
Spain, Felipe II, and Rebellion 1564-68
Spain and Felipe II’s Empire 1569-80
Spain and Felipe II’s Wars 1580-88
Portugal and its Empire 1517-88

Spain’s Renaissance

Vives on Education
Vitoria and International Law
Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits
Servetus and His Martyrdom
Teresa of Avila
Juan de la Cruz
Lazarillo de Tormes and El Greco
Cervantes and His Numantia Play

Netherlands Revolt against Spain 1517-88

Netherlands under Margaret 1517-30
Netherlands under Mary 1531-55
Anabaptists and Menno Simons
Netherlands in Crisis 1555-67
Netherlands under Alba’s Repression 1567-72
Dutch Revolt 1573-78
Low Countries Divided 1579-1588

Italy and Spanish Domination

Italian Wars with France and Spain 1517-29
Italian Wars under Spanish Rule 1530-59
Popes Leo X, Clement VII and Paul III
Popes Paul IV, Pius IV and Pius V
Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V
Venice 1517-88
Naples and Sicily 1517-88
Guicciardini and Italian Philosophy
Bruno’s Philosophy and Martyrdom
Aretino and Italian Comedies
Tasso and Italian Literature

France and Foreign Wars 1517-1559

François I and His Wars 1517-30
François I and His Wars 1530-47
Henri II, Wars and Calvinists 1547-59
Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel
Marguerite of Navarre and Heptameron
Nostradamus and His Prophecies

France’s Christian Wars 1559-88

France in Turmoil 1559-62
France’s First Civil War and Peace 1562-67
France’s Civil Wars 1566-76
Henri III and the Catholic League 1576-89
French Poetry and Ronsard
Montaigne’s Essays

England, Henry VIII & Reform 1517-1558

Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey 1517-30
English Reformation 1525-34
Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell 1534-40
Northern England and Wales 1517-58
Henry VIII and War 1540-47
Elyot and His Book of the Governor
England of Edward VI 1547-53
Mary Tudor and Catholic England 1553-58
English Theater 1517-58

England of Elizabeth 1558-88

Elizabeth’s Reform 1558-64
Elizabeth and Northern Rebels 1564-71
Elizabeth and Protestants 1572-83
Elizabeth and Catholic Threats 1583-88
Lyly’s Euphues and Sidney’s Writing
Elizabethan Theater to 1588
Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy and Marlowe’s Tamberlaine

Scotland and Ireland 1517-88

Scotland under James V 1517-42
Scotland under Regency 1543-61
Scotland under Mary Stuart 1561-67
Scotland under Regents 1567-88
Ireland under Henry VIII 1517-47
Ireland under English Conquest 1547-88

Summary and Evaluation Europe & Reform 1517-1588

Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin
Eastern Europe and Scandinavia
Spain and Portugal
Low Countries and Italy under Spanish Empire
England, Scotland, and Ireland
Evaluating Europe & Reform 1517-1588



Chronology of Europe 1400-1588
World Chronology 1300-1588



      In the fall of 1517 the monk Martin Luther posted “95 Theses” on a church door in Wittenberg criticizing policies the Roman Catholic Church was using to raise money, setting off a movement for reform that would spread from Germany to most of Europe within a few years. The powerful Emperor Charles V, who was also King of Spain, was not convinced by Luther nor was Pope Leo X who excommunicated him. Luther’s reforms were aided by Philip Melanchthon and other humanists who believed in education and letting people read the Bible in their own languages. Priests married, and Church rituals, icons, and relics were replaced by sermons and the singing of hymns.
      Zwingli suggested reforms in Zurich, and Jean Calvin in Geneva developed Protestant theology and greater participation by laity in reformed churches. Anabaptists advocated even more radical reforms with adult baptism and by opposing the use of violence. In Bohemia the Hussites had already begun reforms a century earlier. Many scholars from Poland-Lithuania studied in Italian universities, and Copernicus explained the apparent retrograde movement of the planets by showing that the Earth is also a planet that orbits around the sun. Russia had its own Orthodox Christianity and suffered under the oppressive tyranny of Ivan IV and conflicts with Tatars and other nations. The Scandinavian nations adopted the Lutheran reforms. Denmark was dominant, but Sweden led by Gustav Vasa became independent.
      Spain and Portugal supervised overseas empires but remained loyal to the Catholic religion of the popes, bishops, and celibate priests. Charles V and his son Felipe II were devoted to this faith and imposed it on the Low Countries with their imperial armies even though many Dutch and Belgians came to prefer the reformed churches. Spain used the gold and silver exploited from its American colonies to pay for its wars in the Low Countries and in most of Italy which they also dominated. The Popes and Spain used the Inquisition to try to suppress religious dissent with harsh punishment that often burned to death those they considered heretics. Vives, Vitoria, and Ignatius with the Jesuits brought reforms to Catholic cultures through education, and Teresa of Avila and Juan de la Cruz showed that a mystical path was still possible.
      France was ruled until 1547 by François who also remained Catholic and fought wars in Italy and against Spain and England. As Protestant faiths spread in France, civil wars broke out that divided the nation. While François was ruling France, England’s Henry VIII increased his power in England by breaking away from the Roman Church and becoming the head of the reformed English Church. As in other Protestant nations, monasteries and other religious houses were suppressed as the national governments led by kings and parliaments confiscated much of their property and revenues. After five years under the Catholic Mary Tudor, England went back to Henry’s reforms under Queen Elizabeth who maintained her personal power by refusing to marry. She managed to limit the violence of war and allowed more freedom of expression. England avoided war with Spain until the Spanish armada attempted to invade in 1588; but it was defeated at sea. Scotland struggled to maintain its independence and was reformed. Ireland was oppressed by the English, and many rebelled trying to hold on to their Catholic traditions.
      The Renaissance inspired by humanists continued during the Reformation era in Europe as printing facilitated wider education and literature by Aretino, Tasso, Rabelais, Marguerite of Navarre, Nostradamus, Ronsard, the elegant essays of Montaigne, and plays by Cervantes, Heywood, Lyly, Marlowe, and others. In theater comedy developed from Roman classics and the Italian commedia dell’arte, and tragedy grew out of classical plays and with history plays that were educational and entertaining. As the powerful medieval church was reformed into the modern secular state, the religious mystery and morality plays were replaced by the comedies, tragedies, and histories that gave new birth to theater.

BECK index