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The History of Christianity in the Reformation Era

Explore a watershed period in history as you examine the people, ideas, and events that transformed Western Christianity at the dawn of the modern age.
History of Christianity in the Reformation Era is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 99.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worthwhile and informative It is helpful to have a balanced view of the history of this time, as present cultural biases (expressed by the religious content of television,and radio broadcasting from Protestant and Catholic sources) make it clear that conservative Christian traditions have never gotten over the Reformation. The sociological ramifications are important for understanding political and religious trends in the country today, as they highlight the tragic flaws in human nature that lead to violent conflict. It is largely taken for granted that heretics were routinely killed in the Middle Ages and we have gotten over it somehow; yet the fact that this ever could take place in the name of God is not often a part of the spiritual conversation in our time. It is not a matter of whether the Reformers or the Catholics were wrong-they were, and both had something important to bring to the table. It is a matter of our collective limitations preventing us from seeing beyond the dualitstic thinking that is a trap for rational perception. In religious dialogue it is too often assumed that for something to be true one must be ready to prove every other idea false or we have given ground to opposing views by not staking out our theological position with enough vigor. On the other hand, were one to assume a contemplative point of view, we could see the value in diversity while remaining faithful to a perception of an underlying unity that has its roots in a timeless spiritual vision that is illuminated by the Christian tradition writ large. Having said that, my only caveat is that there are what appear to be spelling errors (!) in the visual inserts, where terms were spelled out (not the chapter descriptions and summaries).Two can be listed here and if anyone can find sources for these as alternative spellings, they are encouraged to so state. Schizmatic and concistery are properly rendered schismatic and consistory. These could be phonetically derived by someone preparing the DVD format and not the product of the professor's oversight. One does not doubt that he knows how to spell.
Date published: 2023-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful presentation! I got this two weeks ago and I couldn't stop watching!
Date published: 2023-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation! Very informative. Professor Gregory is very clear and engaging. I will recommend!
Date published: 2023-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 200 years of religious tumult in Europe My wife and I watched this course on and off over 2 months. It covers the period from the late 1400s to the end of the 30 years war in 1650. 33 of the lectures deal with history of the reformers, Luther, Calvin etc and their followers, strife between the Catholic and Protestant faiths, the council of Trent that initiated the Catholic response to the reformers, and the inevitable compromises needed for coexistence, The great faith shown by reformers and Catholics is awesome. The last 3 lectures provide a review of some of the high points as well as the startling conclusion that the Reformation paved the way for the secular modern world. The professor is an excellent lecturer, fully prepared, energetic, clear and enthusiastic about the topic. We learned a lot but realize that the course is just touching the high points. It is one of the most important courses we have taken. The only criticism is that the maps were cluttered and unclear. If they could be replaced, it would improve the clarity of the course.
Date published: 2023-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very balanced review I have listened to two dozen courses from the Teaching Company, but this is the only one I have completed twice. Such a novel approach to minimize the bias inherent in any review on this topic, Dr Gregory's grouping of Western Christians into Protestants, Radical Protestants, and Catholics is brilliant. He presents each of these from their perspective and helps to explain how each of these groups quickly went to war and produced martyrs within the first generation of the Reformation. Highly recommend to those trying to figure out how "we got here" with regard to the countless Christian "denominations"
Date published: 2022-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from In-depth study of Christianity during the Reformat I am about halfway through this audio version of the course. I gave it 5 stars because the content is excellent. I spent 5 years in a Catholic seminary, but this course provided a great deal of information to which I had not been exposed and which I believe many clergy members could benefit from. In the course of these lectures, I believe that Dr. Gregory provides a fair and unvarnished picture of both the Protestant and Catholic sides. I for one have learned a lot from listening to these lectures.
Date published: 2022-01-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The professor has an outstanding grasp of the subject material. However, what makes this course boring is his continual looking at his notes as if he is unsure of the subject or that he fears he will go astray of his syllabus. It is difficult to consentrate on the subject matter when one is drawn away by such a practice.
Date published: 2021-09-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well organized with lots of detail The first few lectures were a bit dry as the speaker outlines in detail the set up for the course. He reads from his notes closely and is a bit less dynamic of a speaker than some but not bad. As he gets past the organizational introduction, he gets more dynamic speaking of the various players and events of the era. There is a lot of detail and it is thoughtfully organized. Some catholic bias is apparent but a good attempt is made to be balanced throughout much of the course. Near the end the question is asked "Were the reformations successful?" The speaker thinks not. Of course one needs a measure of some sort for that and the speaker puts out his criteria, focusing on the effects on society at large for the time period of roughly 1500 to 1650. He notes the civil discord at various times and places including the 30 years war as ill effects of the reformation. He does note briefly that some segments of the anabaptists apparently had a reputation of being good people genuinely trying to live out the christian life. The spiritual life of the many individuals might need to be a larger measure. Also, a longer time frame might be helpful in thinking about the issues. The impact on how various countries and their governments in the west evolved, including the USA, affected by the reformations would seem to be important as well. All in all, if this period of history and theology interests you, it is definitely worthwhile.
Date published: 2021-02-18
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Overview

Explore a watershed period in history as you examine the people, ideas, and events that transformed Western Christianity at the dawn of the modern age. This course is designed to give you a balanced, historical overview of the complex and dramatic events of the Reformation era during the epoch-making years between Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 and the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648.

About

Brad S. Gregory

This is an extraordinarily important period for understanding the modern world and its characteristic assumptions.

INSTITUTION

University of Notre Dame

Dr. Brad S. Gregory is Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Notre Dame. He earned a B.S. in History from Utah State University; a B.A. and Licentiate degree in Philosophy from the Institute of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium; an M.A. in History from the University of Arizona; and a Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. Before taking his position at Notre Dame, he was Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University and a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. Professor Gregory has received several awards and fellowships, including the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford's highest teaching honor, and the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford. Dr. Gregory is the author of many scholarly articles. His book Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe won six awards, including the 1999 Thomas J. Wilson Prize as the best first book published by the Harvard University Press and the California Book Award Silver Medal for Nonfiction.

Early Modern Christianity—A Larger View

01: Early Modern Christianity—A Larger View

From 1500 to 1650, modern Christian pluralism took shape in Western Europe. Catholicism persisted and was renewed; various forms of Protestantism grew, including some radical strains. We will seek a contextual understanding of each tradition, in both its own terms and as it affected and was affected by the others.

32 min
The Landscape of Late Medieval Life

02: The Landscape of Late Medieval Life

To grasp the Christianity of the era, we must learn the broad demographic, material, social, and political contours of the time.

30 min
Late Medieval Christendom—Beliefs, Practices, Institutions I

03: Late Medieval Christendom—Beliefs, Practices, Institutions I

In this lecture and the next, we map the complex interrelationships among basic Christian beliefs, institutions, and practices in the Europe of 1500. This lecture discusses the official beliefs, particularly in God's providence and the sacraments, which shaped religious life.

29 min
Late Medieval Christendom—Beliefs, Practices, Institutions II

04: Late Medieval Christendom—Beliefs, Practices, Institutions II

The basic institutions and practices of late medieval Christianity are inseparable from its beliefs. The understanding of time was liturgical, with Christian beliefs and worship structuring the days, weeks, and the year as a whole.

31 min
Vigorous or Corrupt? Christianity on the Eve of the Reformation

05: Vigorous or Corrupt? Christianity on the Eve of the Reformation

The church c. 1500 displayed both problems and signs of renewal, including strong lay piety and widespread efforts at reform. The perceived corruption and the urge to reform go together: The Reformation emerges not from spiritual indifference, but from widespread concern and intense religiosity.

32 min
Christian Humanism—Erudition, Education, Reform

06: Christian Humanism—Erudition, Education, Reform

A key intellectual force, especially in the north, was Christian humanism. Led by Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536), humanists pointed back to the Hebrew and Greek Bible and the Church Fathers in order to draw fresh lessons for religious and moral reform. Both Protestants and Counter-Reformation Catholics would learn much from this movement.

29 min
Martin Luther's Road to Reformation

07: Martin Luther's Road to Reformation

In 1517, Luther was an obscure monk and academic. Four years later, he was defying both pope and emperor on behalf of his understanding of Christian faith and life. What were the factors that helped him succeed and become one of the most influential figures in history?

30 min
The Theology of Martin Luther

08: The Theology of Martin Luther

What are the three core ideas of Luther's theology? What made them so subversive of numerous late medieval Christian beliefs, practices, and institutions? How do these ideas differ from the common misconceptions about them that persist even today? What role did they play in the debate between Erasmus and Luther that came to a head in 1524-25?

29 min
Huldrych Zwingli—The Early Reformation in Switzerland

09: Huldrych Zwingli—The Early Reformation in Switzerland

Deeply influenced by Christian humanism and Swiss urban values, Zwingli spearheaded the early Reformation in Zurich during the 1520s. His ideas differed from Luther's in interesting and significant ways that would set Lutheranism and Reformed Protestantism on distinct paths.

30 min
Profile of a Protest Movement—The Early Reformation in Germany

10: Profile of a Protest Movement—The Early Reformation in Germany

In the early 1520s, the evangelical movement became a force in southwest Germany. Outstripping the control of Luther or Zwingli, this was an impatient, zealous urban protest movement directed against many traditional Catholic practices.

31 min
The Peasants' War of 1524-1525

11: The Peasants' War of 1524-1525

This bloody and failed revolt in the German lands was the largest mass movement in European history prior to 1789. How did the early evangelical movement interact with existing religious, political, and social tensions to produce this explosion? How did it shape the Reformation.

28 min
The Emergence of Early Anabaptism

12: The Emergence of Early Anabaptism

"Anabaptism" is a general name for radical Protestant groups that rejected infant in favor of adult baptism. First arising near Zurich around the time of the Peasants' War, these groups suffered severe persecution in its wake. They endured, but in more self-consciously separatist and circumscribed forms.

30 min
The Spread of Early Protestantism—France, the Low Countries, and England

13: The Spread of Early Protestantism—France, the Low Countries, and England

In the 1520s and early 1530s, Protestant ideas spread north and west, but the Reformation was not yet a widespread movement outside German-speaking lands, and local conditions shaped small Protestant communities in different ways.

31 min
The Henrician Reformation in England

14: The Henrician Reformation in England

Anti-Roman yet not Protestant, the Reformation that Henry VIII launched in England was a series of political acts, beginning in 1532, that subjugated the church to the Crown. Rooted in Henry's dynastic concerns, the early English Reformation displays the growth of secular power.

30 min
Defending the Traditional Order—Early Catholic Response

15: Defending the Traditional Order—Early Catholic Response

Both ecclesiastical and secular authorities defended Catholicism, attacking the Reformation as another in a long line of medieval heresies. What arguments and methods did they deploy against Reformation views?

32 min
The Rise and Fall of the Kingdom of Münster

16: The Rise and Fall of the Kingdom of Münster

The sudden rise and fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of Münster (1534-35) in north Germany is one of the Reformation's wildest episodes. The armed destruction of the increasingly radical and apocalyptic reign of prophet-king Jan van Leiden left peaceful Anabaptists laboring under intense official suspicion.

31 min
John Calvin and the Reformation in Geneva

17: John Calvin and the Reformation in Geneva

Calvin (1509-64) towers over second-generation Protestantism. Shaped by humanism, legal study, and exile, his theology stresses God's sovereignty and majesty, providence, predestination, and Christian activism in the world.

31 min
Catholic Renewal and Reform in Italy

18: Catholic Renewal and Reform in Italy

Why is it useful to distinguish between Catholic Reform and the Counter-Reformation? What do seminal events such as the founding of the Jesuits and moves toward a general council tell us about the Church in the 1530s and 40s?

30 min
The Growth and Embattlement of Protestantism

19: The Growth and Embattlement of Protestantism

Protestantism faced shifting prospects in England, France, and the Low Countries, including the Emperor Charles V's defeat of the Schmalkaldic League in 1547. Why, despite such setbacks, did the Protestant movement continue to grow?

31 min
Calvinism in France and the Low Countries

20: Calvinism in France and the Low Countries

In the 11 years after 1555, first in France and then in the Low Countries, Calvinism saw growth—and growing conflict. Earlier Protestant counsels on passive disobedience began to give way to ideas of active resistance.

31 min
John Knox and the Scottish Reformation

21: John Knox and the Scottish Reformation

Here you study the emergence of Scottish Protestantism, focusing on the crucial role of the fiery preacher and radical John Knox in promoting Calvinism and shifting Scotland's allegiance from France to England.

30 min
Menno Simons and the Dutch Mennonites

22: Menno Simons and the Dutch Mennonites

After Münster, ex-priest Menno Simons became the leader of the largest Dutch Anabaptist group. Despite the reinforcement of persecution, his theology of biblical literalism, personal regeneration in Christ, and discipleship in a pure community of like-minded Christians could not bar the way to schisms.

30 min
The Council of Trent

23: The Council of Trent

What makes Trent (1545-63), the most important ecumenical council between the Fourth Lateran in 1215 and Vatican II in the 1960s? How did Trent manage to blend Counter-Reformation and Catholic Reform themes in a way that would reshape Roman Catholicism for centuries to come?

30 min
Roman Catholicism after Trent

24: Roman Catholicism after Trent

How did popes, bishops, clergy, religious orders, and laypeople use Trent's decrees to accomplish the educational, pastoral, and spiritual renewal whose fruits were becoming highly visible as the 16th century waned?

32 min
Going Global—Catholic Missions

25: Going Global—Catholic Missions

Catholicism became a planetary faith in the 16th and 17th centuries, thanks to missionaries who went with Iberian merchants and colonizers. What differences typically marked missionary efforts in Asia as over against the Americas? What accounts for these?

32 min
The French Wars of Religion

26: The French Wars of Religion

Punctuated by massacres and assassinations, these religio-political struggles between Catholics and Huguenots lasted from 1562 almost through the end of the century.

29 min
Religion and Politics in the Dutch Revolt

27: Religion and Politics in the Dutch Revolt

After the Iconoclastic Fury, Philip II of Spain sent the Duke of Alva to punish its perpetrators. The fighting left the south Catholic and Spanish-ruled, while the north declared itself the United Provinces of the Netherlands and made Calvinism its official religion.

30 min
Elizabethan England—Protestants, Puritans, and Catholics

28: Elizabethan England—Protestants, Puritans, and Catholics

From the outset, Elizabeth wanted to re-establish a Protestant Church of England with minimal socio-political unrest. By the end of Elizabeth's long reign, Catholics had become a small minority. But the more radical Protestants called "Puritans" remained a threat to the Anglican settlement.

30 min
Confessionalization in Germany

29: Confessionalization in Germany

This term refers to the long-term efforts by states and churches to form distinct Christian traditions, whether Lutheran, Calvinist, or Catholic, in German lands. Similar processes were at work in other countries. Divisions were hardening, even though the process remained incomplete and subject to local variations and institutional limitations.

32 min
France and the Low Countries in the 1600s

30: France and the Low Countries in the 1600s

What were the different ways in which the southern Netherlands, the United Provinces, and France, respectively, resolved the problems posed by Christian pluralism? How did each country's chosen solution work?

32 min
The Thirty Years' War—Religion and Politics

31: The Thirty Years' War—Religion and Politics

The Thirty Years' War (1618-48) was the most destructive of all the early modern European wars of religion. It finally closed with the Peace of Westphalia, which set the basic religio-political contours of modern Europe.

31 min
Revolution and Restoration in England

32: Revolution and Restoration in England

What made the mid-17th century a time of such political and religious turmoil in England? What fed the exceptional religious dissent and radicalism of the period? How were the monarchy and the established church restored after Cromwell?

31 min
The Impact of the Reformations—Changes in Society and Culture

33: The Impact of the Reformations—Changes in Society and Culture

Here you survey the deep, long-term influence of the Reformation era on many aspects of European life, including marriage and the family, religious art and architecture, and literacy and education.

32 min
Were the Reformations a Success?

34: Were the Reformations a Success?

What standard or standards should we use to define success? Should we cast our sight broadly, or according to more carefully parsed criteria? Does success mean something different depending on one's level of analysis?

28 min
Reflections on Religious Change and Conflict

35: Reflections on Religious Change and Conflict

What are the three large changes that set Reformation-era Christianity apart from the Christianity of late-medieval times? What accounts for the explosive nature of religious disagreements during this era? What is the biggest challenge we face in trying to grasp early-modern Christianity as a whole?

29 min
Expectations and Ironies

36: Expectations and Ironies

The several Reformations bore fruit that would have surprised and dismayed the originators: None, for instance, wanted to disestablish Christianity from official status and power. Yet at the same time, neither Christianity nor religion in general has been overthrown or disproved by modern thought or institutions. How then do we describe the situation that the Reformations have left to us?

30 min

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