The Renaissance

by Walter Pater

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Student Question

Which regions saw a significant rise in Protestant areas between 1560 and 1600?

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As your question implies, the Protestant Reformation was in full swing during the latter part of the sixteenth century and spreading rapidly in new lands. This was particularly the case in Scotland, the Netherlands, France, and Hungary.

In 1560, Scotland was still recovering from a widespread and sometimes violent church "cleansing," in which poor and dissatisfied Scots attacked abbeys and parishes to strip them of their valuables and other signs of Catholic excess. In August of that year, the Scottish Parliament met and restored the Scottish church according to Protestant dogma and practices. Under this parliament, Papal authority in Scotland was made null, and the practice of Catholic mass was made illegal.

In the Netherlands, the 1579 Treaty of Utrecht united much of the region under home rule. Previously, while under Spanish dominion, Protestants had been subjected to persecution. The Dutch Republic was established largely to safeguard Dutch Protestants, and Calvinism became the widely practiced religion of the region.

France had had significant Protestant populations since the days of John Calvin. However, in the 1560s and 1570s, the number of French who became Huguenots increased, despite widespread persecution. In 1598, the legal status of most French Protestants became protected when King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes. This led to more Calvinists and Huguenots settling in France.

There was also a large increase in Protestantism in Hungary at this time. Clashes between Protestants and Catholics had been ongoing for much of the 1500s. However, much of this settled down after the Transylvanian Diet of Turda in 1558, which protected the right to worship for both Lutherans and Catholics. This religious freedom was extended to various degrees to all Christian sects in the 1560s and led to a proliferation of Protestants in Hungary.

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