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The Reformation of the Roman Catholic Church was a major 16th-century religious revolution A revolution which ended the ecclesiastical supremacy of the pope in Western Christendom and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches With the Renaissance that preceded and the French Revolution that followed the Reformation completely altered the medieval way of life in Western Europe and initiated the era of modern history Although the movement dates from the early 16th century when Martin Luther first defied the authority of the church the conditions that led to his revolutionary stand had existed for hundreds of years and had complex doctrinal political economic and cultural elements Conditions Preceding Reformation From the Revival of the Holy Roman Empire by Otto I in 962 popes and emperors had been engaged in a continuous contest for supremacy This conflict had generally resulted in victory for the papal side but created bitter antagonism between Rome and the German Empire this antagonism was augmented in the 14th and 15th centuries by the further development of German nationalist sentiment Resentment against papal taxation and against submission to ecclesiastical officials of the distant and foreign papacy was manifested in other countries of Europe In England the beginning of the movement toward ultimate independence from papal jurisdiction was the enactment of the statutes of Mortmain in 1279 Provisors in 1351 and Praemunire in 1393 These statutes greatly reduced the power of the church to withdraw land from the control of the civil government to make appointments to ecclesiastical offices and to exercise judicial authority The 14th-century English reformer John Wycliffe boldly attacked the papacy itself striking at the sale of indulgences pilgrimages the excessive veneration of saints and the moral and intellectual standards of ordained priests To reach the common people he translated the Bible into English and delivered sermons in English rather than Latin His teachings spread to Bohemia where they found a powerful advocate in the religious reformer John Huss
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