The period known as the "Renaissance", due to its being a period of rebirth (a literal translation of the French "re-" = again plus "naissance" = birth) of classical culture, was also a period of great religious transformation in Europe, or the "Reformation" (a period of "reform" of western Christianity).
The main religious movement of the period was "Protestantism", a movement to reform Christianity that involved attempts first to change the Roman Catholic Church and later to create independent churches that although Christian were doctrinally and politically independent of (and often opposed to) Roman Catholicism.
Some of the main areas in which Protestants differ from Roman Catholics are:
- Priesthood of all believers rather than the notion that a special group of clergy exist to mediate between God and the individual worshiper (Protestant churches technically have "ministers" rather than "priests")
- Sola Scriptura/Right and duty of private judgment: believers have a duty to read and interpret the Bible for themselves; the Bible alone rather than the church hierarchy and ritual is all that is needed for salvation
- Liturgical differences: Protestants use a vernacular liturgy and offer communion in both kinds to the laity
- Purgatory and indulgences: both parts of Roman Catholic doctrine and not of Protestant doctrine