Map Exercise 9: The Age of Religious Wars    (This exercise includes 4 maps)

Although the Renaissance may have had a calming influence on the European mind, the political and religious environment was anything but peaceful. Martin Luther had no intention to split the Church into rival forces, but that is surely what did occur. John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli also added to this division, and by mid-century the Church was faced with not one but many direct challenges. The Church recalled the Inquisition, instituted the Index of Forbidden Books, utilized the resources of Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits, and then called upon the Council of Trent to reassert the general principles of the Catholic faith.

The process of fragmentation that Luther helped to set in motion did not end with the Council of Trent. The fact that historians refer to this period as the Age of Religious Wars should tell us that religious divisions often spilled over into the world of politics, the economy, and society. Together with the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation shaped the early modern world view in profound ways.

In this exercise, you should consider the following general questions:

  • Why did Protestantism spread so quickly?
  • Why was Luther never excommunicated?
  • Why has the Thirty Years' War often been called the first modern war?
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