Renaissance and Reformation

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What caused the Protestant Reformation?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are at least two ways to look at this question.

On the one hand, we can look at the immediate causes of the Reformation.  The Reformation was caused by the unhappiness that Martin Luther felt towards the Church, particularly because of the sale of indulgences to raise funds to build St. Peter's Basilica.  The Reformation was further caused by the fact that the Church chose to come down hard on Luther for his ideas, thus driving him to push for the creation of a new faith.

To take a broader view, we can say that the Reformation was caused by the Church's inability to provide what its members needed.  The Church had become fairly corrupt by the 1500s and often seemed to be more concerned with temporal power and wealth than with the spiritual needs of its members.  This failure on the Church's part, when combined with the new attitude of the Renaissance, which promoted the questioning of authority, can be seen as the more ultimate cause of the Reformation.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial