Reformations By Nation

Bohemia and Moravia

Denmark, Norway and Iceland

England and Wales

Finland

France

Geneva

Germany

Holy Roman Empire

Hungary& Transylvania

Ireland

Italy

Netherlands

Poland

Portugal

Scotland

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

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Bohemia & Moravia (together making  up the modern Czech Republic)
The Hussite Wars of the 15th century had left a bitterly divided Bohemian Church.  The Catholic party was largely secondary to the moderate Utraquists (so called because the laity took communion in both kinds, i.e., wine as well as bread), while the more radical Bohemian Brethren derived from the Taborites, the Hussites who regarded the Utraquists as too moderate.  The kingdom was headed by a king who was in turn elected by a Diet.  This gave much political influence to the nobles who served in the Diet, many of whom had either Utraquist or Bohemian Brethren sympathies.  Both of these groups had dialogues with Protestants and with each other, but the relative conservatism of the Utraquists prevented any progress.  Subsequently, the persecution of the Brethren (sanctioned since 1508) increased and many fled to Moravia, whose nobles were traditionally Utraquist, possible in reaction to their playing a minor role in the Czech kingdom.  Moravian became a centre for reformation refugees, especially attracting Anabaptists after the Peasants' War and later Ochino died there after being driven out of Zurich.
 

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Denmark, Norway and Iceland
Through the Kalmar Union (1397) Denmark united (took over?) with Sweden and Norway (including the Norwegian colony of Iceland). After a popular uprising, Sweden left the Union in 1521.   The Danish parliament embraced Lutheranism (1536), but only after a civil war (1533-34) between Protestant and Catholic nobles.  Subsequently, Catholic nobles and bishops were exiled from Denmark and the imposition of the Reformation in Iceland was the most brutal in the period (par for the course in terms of how the Danes treated the Icelanders).
 

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England & Wales
Henry VIII united his ancestral homeland of Wales with his English kingdom through the Act of Union (1536) and the two sections of the kingdom can be easily treated together in terms of the advance of the Reformation..  In addition, he was overlord of the technically separate nations of Scotland and Ireland, but the Reformations there are so different that they are treated separately.  The English and Welsh reformation was largely driven by the political establishment rather than being a popular movement that won over the rulers, as in Germany or Scotland.  Some scholars argue that Lollardry provided a fertile ground for Protestant ideas to grow, but the evidence suggests that persecutions of Lollards under both Henry VII and Henry VIII left them small in number and largely restricted to the artisan classes.  Henry was a reluctant reformer and appears to have tried to use vaguely Protestant ideas to restore the medieval ecclesiastical privileges of the English monarchy.  English Protestantism only really begins with Edward VI's short reign, before Mary I sought to restore Catholicism, but not papal influence in English affairs.  Again, an early death prevented a consolidation of this policy and the long-reigning Elizabeth I was able to establish a moderate Protestant reformation.
 

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Finland

Part of the Swedish Kingdom since 1150.  See Sweden.
 

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France
Although there were periods when the Protestant Reformation in France was prospering, the strength of the monarchy and the position of the University of Paris as the arbiter of Catholic orthodoxy lead to a catholic victory and in the 17th century a brutal suppression of Protestantism.  French Protestants in exile did, however, determine the direction of the later reformation through the influence of the Paris-educated Calvin and his fellow French émigrés in Geneva.
 

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Germany
Germany was not at this time the nation that we know today, but a collection of principalities under the overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor.  Despite the clearly religious motivations of reformers such as Luther, Karlstadt and Melancthon, the direction of the German Reformation was determined by the actions of the princes.  The German Protestant reformers certainly benefited from the support of the princes, but they in turn benefited from the ability to assert their independence from a catholic Emperor.  The fact that the emperor was a Burgundian King of Spain probably helped to encourage this rising German nationalism, just as much as an dissatisfaction with papal power in Italy.  Not all princes choose the side of the reformation (especially not the prince-bishops), but many did and Protestantism takes its name from the princes who protested (i.e., testified to) their ability to dissent from a majority decision in an Imperial Diet, especially on matters of religious conscience (1529).  That the princes were protesting their right not to have the mass celebrated in their lands shows just how top-down the German Reformation became, despite its popular origins.  Not all princes supported the Protestant Reformation, but sufficient did to protect early Lutheranism and to lead to a religious military conflict, the Schmalkaldic War (1546-1547), which the Emperor won.  Finally, with the Peace of Augsburg (1555) there was an agreement for Lutheran-Catholic toleration, although the growing band of German Calvinists were excluded from such toleration.
 

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Holy Roman Empire
The structures of the Holy Roman Empire bore no resemblance to the militaristic ancient Roman Empire.  The position of Emperor was gained not through military conquest or dynastic succession, but through the votes of the seven imperial electors.  That meant that these electors and the constituencies that they represented wielded considerable power, as did the local princes.  This did not mean that the Emperor was in a weak position, and the lengthy reign of Charles V (1519-1558) from shortly after the outbreak of Luther's revolt until after the Peace of Augsburg probably contributed substantially to the geographically limited success of Protestantism.  Which calls into question the claim that the Reformation era is all about the rise of the nation state.
 

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Hungary and Transylvania
 At the Battle of Mohacs (1526) was the defining moment for Hungarian Reformation history.  This battle with the Turks wiped out 75% of the army, including the king and most of the senior nobles.  Archduke Ferdinand of Austria claimed the crown, while the lesser nobles elected their own ruler, Janos Zapolya.  Hungary ended up being divied (1538), with Ferdinand ruling the West (Royal Hungary) and Zapolya the East (Transylvania).  Most of the central and southern regions were in Turkish hands and in reality Transylvania was a Turkish vassal state.  Janos Zsigmond Zapolya (r.1540-71) established Unitarianism, a fact which may not have been wholly unrelated to him owing his power to Islamic Turks (the 1538 treaty required Transylvania to be reabsorbed into Royal Hungary after Zapolya's death).

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Ireland
 The Reformation in Ireland illustrates the complex relationship between the island and the English (and Welsh) crown.  Henry VIII did not create an Act of Union with Ireland, but was its overlord. He did not initially intend to extend the Reformation to Ireland, but was invited to do so by the Archbishop of Dublin, who was the leader of the English-speaking Christian community, in the area surrounding Dublin known as the Pale.  This was opposed by the Archbishop of Armagh who led the Irish-speaking church.  Henry was proclaimed King of Ireland (1541) and the Reformation began to take root, especially in the Pale.  Henry's policy was, however, to unite his lands under the English language and the refusal to create an Irish-speaking Protestantism in Ireland presented a much easier task to the religious orders working towards a retaining of Catholic loyalty in Ireland.  For centuries Ireland remained one of the few countries in Western Europe where the majority of the population did not share the ruler's religious viewpoint.

 

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Italy

The Reformations were restricted in Italy for political reasons.  Italy was a peninsula of principalities and republics, with the largest power being the papal states. More importantly, during the early Reformation Italy was first subject to French invasions and then Emperor Charles V asserted his overlordship of much of the peninsula outside Venice and the Papal States.  Nonetheless, Italy did produce one of the fascinating of reformers in Ochino and the northern Waldensians were to be much influenced by Calvinism in the latter part of the century.
 

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Netherlands
The Low Countries were establishing themselves as the wealthiest part of Europe, the Burgundian Kingdom based around Flanders had been one of the few prosperous parts of northern Europe  in the southern dominated 15th century.  Its main trading centres had been Bruges and Ghent, but Charles V was angered at his birthplaces' refusal to pay his war tax, so he gave all their trading privileges to Antwerp, which became the wealthiest city in Europe until the Dutch blocked up their sea access and Amsterdam assumed primary position..   The Netherlands at the beginning of the sixteenth century included both Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, but was to divide over religion.   In the first part of the 16th century it was the scene of widespread persecution of Protestantism, owing to its ruler being Emperor Charles V.  In the north, however Calvinism and nationalism were growing in tandem, culminating in the Dutch Revolt (1565-1568) led by William (the Silent) of Orange.  By the last quarter of the century Calvinism was established in the Netherlands, while Catholicism was the state religion of the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium and Luxembourg).

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Poland and Lithuania
 These two countries were united since 1386,  although not formally united into the Polish Commonwealth until 1569.  Poland and Lithuania became a dominant force in Central East European  politics until the seventeenth century.  Initially,  Luther's teaching was banned n Poland, but this very racially mixed kingdom included many Germans and Lutheran churches became established in those areas.  In the mid-sixteenth century, Reformed churches were permitted and enjoyed some success, especially in collaboration with the Bohemian Brethren who had fled to Poland in the 15th century.  Gradually, however, Calvinists fell out of favour with the populace, leading to anti-Calvinist riots by the end of the century.

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Portugal

Portugal was the first of the European nations to establish its wealth through intercontinental maritime trade, although it would later face challenges from Spain and England and lost this position to the Dutch by the century's end, by which stage Portugal had lost its independence to Spain (1580).  The counter-reformation was established in 1536 and the first of many auto-da-fe (pubic burnings) took place in 1540. 
 

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Scotland
In the first half of the 16th century Scotland maintained its traditional alliance with France as a way of preserving its independence from the common enemy of England, although King James IV was married to Henry VIII's sister Margaret.  In 1555 thee exiled John Knox returned from exile (including time with Calvin in Geneva) and the Reformed church quickly took shape.  In 1560, the Scottish parliament embraced Presbyterianism (i.e., the Reformed Reformation) and future links with the French crown were called into question.

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Spain

The present day boundaries of Spain were formed through the marriage of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile (1469), although the three kingdoms (Aragon, Castile and Valencia) continued to be governed autonomously from Castile.  The Spanish monarchy passed to the Hapsburgs through Charles of Ghent (1516) and annexed Portugal under his son, Philip II (1580).  The Reformation made little headway due to the influence of the staunchly Catholic Hapsburgs, but the Inquisitor General was arrested for suspected Erasmianism (1529) and the Archbishop of Toledo (and primate [chief bishop] of Spain] was arrested on suspicion of Protestant heresy (1559).  
 

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Sweden

Sweden re-emerged as an independent nation following a popular revolt in 1521, having entered the Kalmar Union of Denmark, Norway (and Iceland) in 1389.  There was an early attempt at a Lutheran Reformation in 1526-1529, but popular uprisings in 1527 and 1529 discouraged these.  In 1539 a Lutheran Reformation was officially adopted through an English style act of royal  supremacy.
 

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Switzerland

The Swiss Confederation of cantons (city states) came together gradually during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but remained part of the Holy Roman Empire until the early 16th century, although the reasons for the separation go back to Emperor Maximillian's attempt in 1495 to bring the Confederation into line with his reforms of the Empire.  Consequently, the confederation was just finding its feet when several city states chose to embrace the Protestant Reformation.  The most important (and populous) city state was Zurich and it was here that the Swiss Reformation took root under Zwingli's leadership (1522).  It later spread to Bern (1529) and other cantons, but the central cantons remained Catholic and with the support of Archduke  Ferdinand of Austria they defeated the Protestant cantons in the Battle of  Kappel during which Zwingli (acting as a chaplain) died in combat.  In the peace settlement that followed, Protestant cantons were to remain so, but no more cantons were to be allowed to embrace Protestantism.

 

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