Western Civilization I, Week 35 – The Catholic Church on the Eve of the Protestant Reformation, and the Political Centralization of Spain

(1) What can we say about the condition of the Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation?

In the decades leading up to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church saw a rise in private devotion, and a downfall in the moral conditions of the churchmen.

Less and less people attended Sunday seminaries on the eve of the Reformation, however more and more people were worshipping at home and performing pilgrimage. Though the church saw fewer people in their Sunday masses, they found that dramatic events like renowned preachers coming to speak brought out large crowds. More works of piety were being written and published on the eve of the Protestant Reformation, such as Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ.

The moral condition of the churchmen on the eve of Reformation was subpar to say the least. Most churchmen were only interested in money, treating their positions like sources of passive income instead of real jobs where they had to do something. Many church officials did not live in the towns that they were assigned to preach in, and many more held more than one office. Most of these churchmen were ignorant, therefore not providing sermons and seminaries, which may have affected the lack of Sunday mass goers.

Monasteries became more and more relaxed as the eve of the Reformation went on, which gave them a reputation so bad that by the time Protestant reformers called for their abolishment, it was not hard for them to get people behind their cause.

(2) Discuss the three key developments in the process of political centralization in Spain.

    Ferdinand and Isabella centralized Spain in three ways. The first and most obvious way was their marriage, which brought Castile and Aragon together. But the second way they politically centralized Spain came about with the Muslim invasion. During that time, the people of Spain felt very loyal to both the church and state, as they felt that all three bodies were going through the invasion together. The third step in centralizing Spain was carried out by the Spanish Inquisition. Once Ferdinand and Isabella had defeated the Muslims, they decided that it would be best for everyone who lived in Spain to follow the same religion, that being Catholic Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition persecuted any Jew or Muslim whose conversion to Christianity seemed insincere, while Jews and Muslims who did not convert to Christianity had to leave the country.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s