Key Turning Points – Catholic Reformation 1500 - 1600
Fifth Lateran Council (1512 -1517)
This was a serious attempt to address the problem of clerical education and discipline. Often considered as the first sign of commitment towards reform. Despite the Roman Catholic Church being corrupt at the time, they were still committed to the reform process.
Sack of Rome (1517)
The affect of this was to localise the crisis within the church. It served to bring the problems facing the church to the forefront of the papacy’s concerns. Making reform urgent.
Paul III’s commissioning of the Consilium de Emendenda Ecclesia (1535)
This was part of the papacy’s programme of seizing the spiritual, political and ideological initiative from the growing Protestant threat. This served as a moment of self-realisation for the Papacy. As the Vatican for the first time realised its inadequacies as an institution and for the first time were attempting to rectify the situation. As a result they sought to resolve these issues through reform. (Read more after Break)
The Council of Trent (1545 - 1565)
First and foremost the Council of Trent was driven towards consolidating and developing upon existing reform, regarding the church’s doctrine and dogma. The Council also gave the Catholic Church a strict agenda to work towards in order to seize back the spiritual, political and ideological initiative back from the conservatives.
Peace of Augsburg (1555)
For the first time in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, the Peace of Augsburg gave European prince’s the right to choose what their state’s religion would be- either to continue with Catholicism or convert to Protestantism. The significance of Augsburg was that it gave rulers within the Holy Roman Empire great power, allowing them to focus on their state’s interests – Land, Money and Taxes. The calling of the Peace of Augsburg was justified by the Catholic Church because they believed that once countries that were leaning towards Protestantism had converted, they could start to focus their resources towards reform on the remaining Catholic states. However, this decision also served to make Protestantism a permanent fixture/feature on the European map, as they now had an established power base in the form of those who chose to convert their nation to Protestantism.
The Peace of Augsburg was highly significant turning point for the papacy, because once lands had converted to Protestantism, they were more or less permanently lost to any form of redemption. Furthermore the Peace of Augsburg gave Protestantism political legitimacy, in the form of the ruling classes who chose to convert to it. Most significantly the Peace of Augsburg served to consolidate areas of both Protestantism and Catholicism, so that the Catholic Church, as previously outline, could focus on the remaining states.