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study guide

The Reformation: a History

By Diarmaid MacCulloch



How are these terms defined:


What are the subjects of the third section of The Reformation?


Chapter 1"
The Old Church, 1490-1517

What were the two pillars of the power of the Medieval Church and how did they operate?

What was the general condition of the late Medieval Church?  Was it healthy or corrupt?  What were its problems and its strengths?

How are these terms defined:

“blood libel”
Religious orders
Regular clergy
Secular clergy
Devotio Moderna
John Wycliffe
Jan Hus


Chapter 2:
Hopes and Fears, 1490-1517

What does the chapter title mean by the terms “Hopes and Fears?”

What was the situation on the borders of Western Europe in 1490?

Describe the situation on the Iberian Peninsula in terms of the condition of the Church and also its relations with Jews and Muslims?

What were the impact of paper and printing on Western Europe and the Church?

Define Humanism and describe its impact on the Church?

How did the monastic orders and the friars participate in the renewal and reform of the Church?

Who was Erasmus and how was he significant on the eve of the Reformation?

How are these terms defined:

Ottoman Turks
Francisco Ximenes de Cisneros
“New Learning”
Hermes Trismegistus
Johanness Reuchlin
Girolamo Savonarola


Chapter 3:
New Heaven: New Earth, 1517-24

What were the ideas of St. Augustine of Hippo and what was his legacy to the western Church?

Describe the background of Martin Luther and how he became involved with reform of the Church.   How did his ideas differ from the Medieval Church?

Describe the background of Ulrich Zwingli and how he became involved with reform of the Church.  How did his ideas differ from Luther’s ideas?

How were Luther’s ideas received by the common people of Germany from 1521-1524?

How are these terms defined:

Pelagius and Pelagians
Cardinal Cajetan
Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
The Babylonian Captivity of the Church
The Freedom of a Christian
Philipp Melanchthon
Andreas von Karlstadt
Zwickau Prophets
“two kingdoms”


Chapter 4:
Wooing the Magistrate, 1524-40

Describe the context and causes of the Great Peasants’ War in Germany.

Some supporters of the Reformation followed churches supported by princes while others wanted individuals to be able to form separate churches within society.  Describe who supported the first alternative and the second alternative, and why they gave their support. 

What were the causes of the fragmentation of Protestantism in the 1520s and early 1530s?

Describe John Calvin’s career as discussed in ch. 4.

How did the great kings Charles V of Germany, Francis I of France, and Sigismund of Poland each react to the Reformation?  How did Henry VIII of England react?

What was the incident at Munster and how did it affect the Anabaptist movement and other forms of religious radicalism?

Define these terms:

Thomas Muntzer
Cuius regio, eius religio
Marburg Colloquy
Martin Bucer
Melchior Hoffmann
Institutes of Christian Religion
Jan Matthijszoon
Davis Joris
Menno Simmons
Family of Love
Philip of Hesse


Chapter 5:
Reunion Deferred:
Catholic and Protestant, 1530-60

Describe the revival of Roman Catholicism that occurred in Italy and Spain from the 1520s onward. 

What was the role of the Society of Jesus in the reform and revitalization of Catholicism?

Describe the efforts to reconcile Catholics and Protestants during the early 1540s.  Why did these efforts fail?

What did the first session of the Council of Trent do to revitalize Catholicism and harden its differences with the Protestants?

Describe how John Calvin established his Reformed Christianity in Geneva.  What type of conflicts existed by clergy and the secular government in Geneva?  Describe how Calvin’s views of the Eucharist differ from Luther and Zwingli’s?

Describe the spread of the Reformed Christianity into Friesland, England, Poland, other parts of Eastern Europe, and France.

Define these terms:

Juan de Valdes
Reginald Pole
Gian Pietro Carafa
Ignatius Loyola
Spiritual Exercises
Augsburg Confession
Regensburg Colloquy
Ecclesiastical Ordinances
Double predestination
Michael Servetus
Consensus Tigurnus
Jan Laski


Chapter 6:
Reunion Scorned, 1547-70

What were the results of the war between the German Protestants and the Emperor Charles V?

What were the policies and significance of the pontificate of Paul IV?

What types of problems did the English queens Mary I and Elizabeth I face?  Why did Mary I fail while Elizabeth I was relatively successful?

Describe the impact of the Reformation on Scotland, the Austrian Habsburg lands, Spain, and France during the 1560s and 1570s. 

Discuss the achievements of the last session of the Council of Trent.

Describe the origins of religious warfare in France and the Low Countries.

Define these terms:  

Peace of Augsburg, 1555
Duke Moritz of Saxony
Schmakaldic League
Battle of Muhlberg
(Augsburg) Interim
(Roman) Index
John Foxe
Acts and Monuments
Elizabethan Religious Settlement
John Knox
Emperor Maximilian II
Philip II
Catherine de Medici
Colloquy of Poissy
Massacre at Vassy
William of Orange (the Silent)
Duke of Alva


Chapter 7:
The New Europe Defined, 1569-72

Describe the situation of religious division in Europe in circa 1569-72.

How did the revived Catholic Church defend itself against its Protestant enemies and also against attacks by the Ottoman Turks?

Describe the expansion of Protestantism in England, Scotland, Scandinavia and the Netherlands.  What were the reasons for Protestant success in those countries?

What was the impact of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France and the rest of Europe? 

How did the course of the Reformation and religious division differ in the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania from the rest of Protestant and Catholic Europe?

What is the relationship between Protestantism and a belief in the End of Days in 1569-1572?

Define these terms:  

Jeronimo Nadal
Reformation of Manners
The Rosary
Siege of Malta
Battle of Lepanto
Regnans in Excelsis
Henry of Navarre


Chapter 8:
The North: Protestant Heartlands

What were the disagreements between Lutherans and between Lutherans and Reformed from 1546 to the 1570s?

What was the nature of the Second Reformation in Germany?

Describe the decline of religious diversity in Poland-Lithuania and what were the reasons that it took place?

What was the nature of the Protestant State Church in the Netherlands?  Did it have a monopoly over religion?  Describe the issues and conflicts related to the struggle in the Dutch Reformed Church over the theology of Arminianism.

Describe how and why Protestantism succeeded in Scotland and England.  What problems did Protestants face from Catholic survivals?

Describe how and why Protestantism failed in Ireland.

Define these terms:  

Matthias Flacius Illyricus
Communicatio idiomatum
Formula of Concord
Book of Concord
Heidelberg Catechism
Zacharias Ursinus
Heidelberg University
Fausto Paolo Sozzini
Uniate Church
Sigismond III
Pacification of Ghent
Scottish Kirk
Thomas Cartwright
Mary Queen of Scots
William Perkins


Chapter 9:
The South: Catholic Heartland

How did the Catholic Church in Italy enforce the rules of the Council of Trent and solidify its control over Christian Italy?

Describe the transformation of Spanish Catholicism during the reign of Philip II.  Did it strengthen or weaken the Spanish Church?
Describe the world-wide missionary efforts of Spanish and the Portuguese.  How did their efforts differ from region to region and why?

Define these terms:  

Roman Inquisition
College of Cardinals
Robert Bellarmine
Paolo Sarpi
Carlo Borromeo
Sacred Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies
St. Teresa of Avila
John of the Cross
Discalced Carmelites
Francis Xavier
Roberto de Nobili
Kingdom of Kongo


Chapter 10:
Central Europe: Religion Contested

What was the condition of the Catholic Church in the Empire and the Habsburg lands during the reigns of the Emperors Ferdinand I and Maximilian II?  Why were these rulers unable to suppress Protestantism?

Describe how and why the Catholic Church was able to revive itself in Germany from the 1570s onward.

What was the situation of Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches in the Hungarian and Transylvanian lands from 1570 to the 1650s? 

Describe the events and outcome of the French Civil Wars of Religion during the final decades of the sixteenth century.

What was the nature of the Counter-Reformation in France and how was it related to Jansenism?

Define these terms:  

Ferdinand I
Maximilian II
Gabor Bethlen
Gyorgy II Rakoczi
Henry III
Edict of Nantes
Francoise Ravaillac
Francois de Sales
Pierre de Berulle
Vincent de Paul
Cornelius Jansen
Port Royal


Chapter 11:
Decision and Destruction, 1618-48

What was the nature of the conflict during the Thirty Years War as described in this chapter?

Define these terms: 

Ferdinand II
Friedrich Elector of the Palatinate
Christian of Anhalt
Protestant Union
Catholic League
Letter of majesty
Defenestration of Prague
Battle of White Mountain
Edict of Restitution
Gustav Adolf
Sack of Magdeburg


Chapter 12:
Coda: A British Legacy, 1600-1700

What did Richard Hooker and Lancelot Andrewes contribute to the development of the Church of England?

How did the Church of England change from the reign of James I through the reign of Charles I?

What was the nature of the Civil Wars in the British Isles and how did it effect Christianity in the islands?

How did the Church of England reestablish itself during the reign of Charles II?

What were the various ways that Christianity was brought to the British colonies in North America and how did it differ from the situation in the British Isles and Europe?

Define these terms:  

The Law of Ecclesiastical Polity
Avante garde conformism
Jure divino
English Arminians
William Laud
Westminster Confession
Oliver Cromwell
Act of Toleration
John Winthrop
Half-Way Covenant
Roger Williams
William Penn


Chapter 13:
Changing Times

What was the role of beliefs about the end of the world during the Reformation?

How did the people of the Reformation era view providence?

Describe the Protestant war on idols.  Which Protestants supported image breaking and which did not and why?

The mass persecution of alleged witches was a feature of the Reformation era.  How did belief in and the prosecution of witchcraft vary from region to region and among Lutherans, Reformed, and Roman Catholics?

Define these terms:  

Joachim of Fiore
Matthew Hopkins
Malleus Maleficarum
Johann Weyer


Chapter 14:
Death, Life, and Discipline

How did Protestants change the funeral service and deal with magic compared to Catholics?

What were the various ways that Protestants and Catholics taught adults and children the correct beliefs of their faiths?  How were their methods different and how were they similar?

What was meant by the concept of “discipline” in the sixteenth century and how and why did the Protestants and Catholic officials impose it on ordinary people?

In what ways did Protestants promote a community of believers, including the calendar, the Eucharist, and revivalism?  Was there a link between Protestant values and capitalism?

Define these terms:  

Soul sleep
communal penance
Weber-Tawney Thesis


Chapter 15:
Love and Sex: Staying the Same

What was the ancient legacy of beliefs about the nature of men and women that both Catholics and Protestants shared?  Why did Protestants agree with Catholics on the perpetual virginity of Mary?

How did the nuclear family function in the sixteenth century and did the Reformation change it?

How did people of the Renaissance era understand the term “sodomy?”  What was the situation of homosexual men during the era of the Reformation?

Define these terms:  

Nuclear family
Extended family
“life-cycle servants”


Chapter 16:
Love and Sex: Moving On

What did the Reformation of Manners entail for the various European societies?  How did syphilis and Erasmus effect the Reformation of Manners?  How did the Reformation affect marriage rituals?

How did marriage and the family change among Catholics as a result of the Reformation?  What was the role of the Holy Family, celibacy, and female religious orders?

How did Protestants change popular concepts of marriage and the family, particularly regarding clerical marriage and divorce?

How did the role of woman in religion change during the course of the Reformation?

Define this term:  

Girolomo Fracastoro


Chapter 17:

What were some consequences of the Wars of Reformation?

How did the Reformation contribute to the growth of religious toleration and other forms of toleration?

How did humanism and natural philosophy interact with the Reformation in Protestant and Catholic lands?

What was the situation of the Jews during the arrival of the Reformation and how did they contribute to growing doubt about the truth of religion?

How does MacCulloch see developments in Protestantism and Catholicism from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment onward?

Define these terms:  

Theophrastus Paracelsus
Natural philosophy
Heliocentric theory
Giordano Bruno
Baruch Spinoza
John Wesley


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