First half of the sixteenth century saw religious conflict confined to central Europe as Lutherans and Zwinglians attempted to secure freedoms and rights for themselves.
Religious conflict shifted in the second half of the fifteenth century as Calvinists struggled for recoginition in the western European nations of France, the Netherlands, England and Scotland.
The Peace of Augsburg (1555) made Lutheranism “legal” in the Holy Roman Empire but it did nothing for other Protestant groups like Calvinists and Anabaptists.
Following the conclusion of the Council of Trent, the Catholic church’s Jesuits launched a global counter-offensive against Protestantism.
Calvinism was attractive to proponents of political decentralization who opposed hierarchical rule, in principle, whereas the Roman Catholic Church—an institution devoted to one head—found absolute monarchy congenial.
The Catholic Church Counter Reformation found the baroque style of art appealing as it presented like in a grandiose, three-dimensional display of raw energy.
great baroque artists
Peter Paul Rubens
Protestant artists were restrained as can be seen in the gentle portraits of the Dutch Mennonite, Rembrandt van Rijn.
When the religious wars erupted in the sixteenth century, the intellectuals moved to preach tolerance more quickly than the politicians.
Sebastian Castellio comments on the killing of Michael Servetus ordered by John Calvin
“To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.”
Michel de Montaigne asked, “What do I know?” which reflects a sense of skepticism.
The Lutheran Valentin Weigel advised people to search within themselves for religious truth
Rulers—like Elizabeth I—who tended to subordinate theological doctrine to political unity, urging tolerance, moderation, and compromise became known as politiques.
During this period of religious wars, Catholic and Protestant subjects struggled against one another for control of the crown of France, the Netherlands, and England.
Section Two: The French Wars of Religion (1562-1598)
French Protestants are known as Huguenots, a term derived from Besancon Hugues, the leader of Geneva’s political revolt in the 1520s.
Trouble for Protestants in France
The capture of the king of France, Francis I, by the forces of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Battle of Pavia ion 1525 provided a basis for the first wave of Protestant persecutions in France.
In 1534Protestants plastered Paris and other cities with anti-Catholic placards which led to the mass arrest of the Protestants found responsible.
In 1540, the Edict of Fontainebleau subjected French Protestants to the Inquisition.
The French monarchy remained a staunch opponent of Protestants until the ascension to the throne of Henry IV of Navarre in 1589.
France experienced a period of weakness when King Henry II was mortally wounded when he was accidentally pierced by a lance during a tournament.
Three powerful families in France saw the chance to control France and plotted to take the throne
The Bourbons were powerful in the south and west of France; the Montmorency-Chatillons controlled the center of France; the strongest family, the Guises, were dominant in eastern France.
The Guise family was closely linked to the French monarchy and were associated with militant, reactionary Catholicism.
The Bourbon and Montmorency-Chatillon families developed strong Huguenot sympathies
Conspiracy of Amboise—these two families planned—but never carried out—the kidnapping of Francis II of France from his Guise advisors.
Appeal of Calvinism
Although Huguenots made up only one-fifteenth of the population, Huguenots held important geographic areas and were heavily represented among the more powerful segments of French society.
Many Huguenots wanted a principle of territorial sovereignty like that extended by the Peace of Augsburg to the German princes in the Holy Roman Empire.
Calvinism justified and inspired political resistance in France.
Spirituality was neither the only, nor always the main, reason for becoming a Calvinist in France during the second half of the sixteenth century.
Catherine de Medicis and the Guises
Following the death of Francis II, the queen mother, Catherine de Medicis, became regent for her younger son, Charles IX.
At a meeting in Poissy, Catherine unsuccessfully attempted to reconcile Protestant and Catholic factions.
Catherine believed this attempt would upset the Guises so she began talks with Theodore Beza and Coligny, two Protestant leaders
In 1562, the crown issued the January Edict which granted Protestants freedom to worship publicly outside towns—although only privately within them.
Royal toleration ended in 1562 when the duke of Guise surprised a Protestant congregation at Vassy in Champagne and massacred many worshipers. This event marked the beginning of the French wars of religion.
The crown, wary of the power of the Guise family, supported the Catholic side of the conflict.
The Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye
First French war of religion (1562-1563)
Duke of Guise was assassinated
Troops from Hesse and the Palatinate in the Holy Roman Empire fought with the Huguenots
Huguenot leader Conde was killed and leadership passed to Coligny
The Peace of Saint Germain-en-Laye ended the third phase of the war in which the power of the Protestant nobility was acknowledged and Huguenots were granted religious freedoms within their territories and the right to fortify their cities.
Following the peace, Charles IX became closer to the Bourbon family and the Huguenots, and Coligny became one of his most trusted advisors.
Catherine began to plot with the Guise family because she feared the threat that the growing power of Protestants posed to the crown.
The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre
On August 24, 1572 Coligny and 3,000 fellow Huguenots were butchered in Paris. Within three days, coordinated attacks killed an estimated 20,000 Huguenots throughout France
The Huguenot Henry of Navarre had just married the king’s sister four days before this event.
Coligny had been shot by an assassin but only wounded after the wedding.
Catherine convinced King Charles IX that a Huguenot coup was at hand and that the crown must align with the Guises to prevent it.
Protestant Resistance Theory
Initially, Protestants practiced obedient subservience to worldly authority as encouraged in the Bible.
In 1550, Lutherans in Magdeburg published an influential defense of the right of lower authorities to oppose the emperor’s order that all Lutherans return to the Catholic fold.
Calvin also condemned willful disobedience and rebellion against lawfully sanctioned governments but also taught lower magistrates that they had the right to oppose tyrannical higher authority.
Scottish reformer who wrote First Blast of the Trumpet against the Terrible Regiment of Women (1558) which declared that removal of a tyrant was a Christian duty.
Three major works of resistance theory
Franco-Gallia by Francis Hotman
On the Right of Magistrates over their Subjects by Theodore Beza
As Europe became richer from New World exploits, the population increased rapidly
Combination of increased wealth and population triggered inflation.
There were more people and more coinage in circulation than before, but less food and fewer jobs
Wages stagnated while prices doubled and tripled throughout much of Europe.
The peasantry of Spain suffered most as they were taxed more heavily than any other group of people in Europe.
Efficient Bureaucracy and Military
Philip II ruled by the pen rather than by personal presence.
He organized the lesser nobility into a complex bureaucracy that helped him carry out governmental duties.
Philip’s son Don Carlos died under suspicious circumstances and it was suspected that Philip had him quietly executed.
Supremacy in the Mediterranean
During the first half of Philip’s reign, he focused his attention on the Turkish threat.
In the 1560s, the Turks had advanced deep into Austria and their fleets dominated the Mediterranean.
Philip’s half brother, Don John of Austria suppressed and dispersed the Moors in Granada.
In May 1571, a Holy League of Spain, Venice, Genoa, and the pope, under Don John’s command, formed to check the Turkish threat.
In the largest naval battle of the sixteenth century, Don John’s fleet engaged the Turks and sunk or captured over one third of their fleet and nearly 30,000 Turks had died.
The Revolt in the Netherlands
Although Philip II enjoyed military success in southern Europe, he was defeated when he attempted to impose his will on the Netherlands, England, and France.
The resistance in Netherlands was pivotal in ending Philip II’s dream of world domination.
The Netherlands was the richest area in all of Europe in mid-sixteenth century and Philip II slowly gained control over the region.
When Philip II left the Netherlands for Spain in 1559, he appointed his half-sister Margaret of Parma regent in his place and appointed a council of state to prevent the spread of Protestantism and help break down the traditional autonomy in the region
Cardinal Granvelle, also known as Antoine Perrenot, was the head of this council and he attempted to subdue the seventeen Netherlands provinces and place them under the centralized imperial government that operated from Madrid.
Many of these provinces, like Antwerp, were Calvinist strongholds and there was a tremendous amount of hostility towards the Spanish overlords.
The Count of Egmont and William of Nassau, the prince Orange, led the opposition both of whom were considered politiques. They were able to get Granvelle removed from his position in 1564.
Many urban artisans grew hostile towards the Spanish and many joined the congregations of radical Calvinist preachers.
In 1564, the Netherlands saw the first fusion of political and religious opposition to Regent Margaret’s government.
When Philip II instructed Margaret to enforce the decrees of the Council of Trent on the Netherlands, William of Orange’s younger brother, Louis of Nassau, led the opposition with the support of the Calvinist-minded lesser nobility and townspeople.
The opposition drafted the Compromise in which they vowed to resist the decrees of the Council of Trent and the Inquisition.
When Regent Margaret’s government called the protesters “beggars” in 1566, Calvinists rioted throughout the country. Louis called for aid from French Huguenots and German Lutherans.
The Duke of Alba
A full scale rebellion against Spain’s influence in the Netherlands never erupted because the higher nobility of the Netherlands would not support it.
Philip II sent the duke of Alba—who was accompanied by his army of 10,000 men—journeyed from Milan to the Netherlands where they assembled a special tribunal, known to the Spanish as the Council of Troubles and among the Netherlands as the Council of Blood, which launched a campaign of terror during which the counts of Egmont and Horn, along with several thousand heretics were publicly executed.
Alba spent six years in the Netherlands and during this time he levied new taxes and continually persecuted Protestants.
Resistance and Unification
William of Orange emerged from exile as the leader of the movement for the independence of the Netherlands from Spain.
He led his operation from the provinces of Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht, of which William was governor.
A group of pirates which consisted of anti-Spanish exiles and criminals, known as the “Sea Beggars”, captured port cities and incited rebellions against the Spanish in coastal towns of the Netherlands.
Alba had by this time ceded power to Don Luis de Requesens, who replaced him as commander of the Spanish forces in the Netherlands.
The Pacification of Ghent
After the death of Requesens, Spanish mercenaries who were leaderless and unpaid, ran amok in Antwerp on November 4, 1576, leaving 7,000 people dead.
The Pacification of Ghent marks the agreement that came between the largely Catholic provinces of the south (modern-day Belgium) and the largely Protestant northern provinces (modern-day Netherlands)in which the merged in opposition to Spain.
the united forces of the Netherlands were able to defeat the Spanish and force Don John—who had taken control of Spanish forces in the Netherlands—to sign the edict which required the removal of all Spanish forces from the Netherlands within the next twenty days.
The Union of Arras and the Union of Utrecht
Don John and Alexander Farnese of Parma, the Regent Margaret’s son, revived Spanish power in southern provinces, where fear of Calvinist extremism caused some of the southern provinces to drop out of the union.
In 1579, the southern provinces formed the Union of Arras and made peace with Spain and the northern provinces responded by forming the union of Utrecht.
Persistent in his goal to subdue the Netherlands, Philip II declared William of Orange an outlawa and placed a bounty of 25,000 crowns on his head.
In a famous speech to the Estates General of Holland in December of 1580, known as the Apology, Orange publicly denounced Philip as a heathen tyrant whom the Netherlands need no longer obey.
The member provinces of the Union of Utrecht met in the Hague and formally declared Philip no longer their ruler.
The leaders of the Union of Utrecht offered the crown of the Netherlands to the French duke of Alencon, the youngest son of Catherine de Medicis. He was accepted as ruler but was expected to act as a “titular” ruler. When he attempted to take actual control of the provinces in 1583, he was deposed and returned to France.
William of Orange was assassinated in 1584 and was succeeded by his son Maurice who continued the Dutch resistance.
Philip II got involved in conflicts in France and England which allowed the Netherlands to strengthen and prosper economically.
Section Four: England and Spain
Edward VI made an agreement that made Lady Jane Grey—the teenage daughter of a powerful Protestant nobleman and the granddaughter (on her mother’s side)of Henry VIII’s younger sister Mary—his successor in place of his half-sister and Catholic Mary Tudor.
Within days of taking the throne, uprisings in London, due to popular support for the principle of hereditary monarchy, removed Lady Jane Grey from the throne and Mary was crowned queen.
Mary I (1553-1558)
In 1554, Mary entered a marriage to Philip of Spain (later Philip II), which symbolized the militant Catholic policies she would pursue throughout her reign.
Mary passed legislation through Parliament that reverted to Catholicism and she ordered the executions of the Protestant leaders of the Edwardian Age including John Hooper, Hugh Latimer, and Thomas Cranmer.
287 Protestants were burned at the stake during Mary’s reign, while many others—known as “Marian exiles”—fled to the Continent and settled in Germany and Switzerland.
Elizabethan England (1558-1603)
Elizabeth--the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn passed a series of legislation through Parliament that guided a religious settlement that ended religious civil strife in England.
She was assisted by Sir William Cecil who was her chief advisor.
Act of Supremacy (1559) repealed all the anti-Protestant legislation of Mary Tudor.
Act of Uniformity (1559) issued a revised edition of the second Book of Common Prayer.
In 1563, the Thirty Nine Articles was issued that made a moderate Protestantism the official religion within the Church of England
Catholic and Protestant Extremists
Catholic extremists hoped to replace Elizabeth with Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots who had a claim to the throne since her grandmother, Margaret, was the sister of Henry VIII.
Elizabeth showed little mercy for Catholics who attempted to destroy the unity of England; however, she executed far fewer Catholics during her 45 years on the throne than Mary had Protestants in just five years.
The Puritans emerged during her reign who wanted to purify the Church of England of “every vestige of popery” and they were led by Thomas Cartwright.
Congregationalists were the more extreme Puritans who wanted every congregation to be autonomous.
Conventicle Act of 1593
Elizabeth had little tolerance for the independence-minded Congregationalists and gave them the option to conform or face exile or death.
Deterioration of Relations with Spain
Although Philip II and Elizabeth both intended to avoid conflict, their conflicting ideologies brought them into conflict first when the Spanish invaded the Netherlands and Elizabeth signed the Treaty of Nonsuch, which sent English soldiers and cavalry to support the Netherlands.
Spain’s dominance on the high seas was challenged by the English sailor Francis Drake when he circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580.
She lived in France throughout her childhood and married the French king Francis II
When Francis II died, she moved back to Scotland and took the throne
Mary rules Scotland
As a Catholic, she faced resistance from religious reformers like John Knox because Catholicism was illegal in Scotland; Queen Elizabeth supported the close eye these Protestants kept on Mary.
Mary fled Scotland for England in 1568
Mary was forced to flee from Scotland to England and abdicated the throne in 1568 and the hereditary right to the throne of Scotland became her one-year old son, James VI who later succeeded Elizabeth as King James I of England.
Mary’s presence in England alarmed Mary as she was a legitimate heir to the throne in England and many fervent Catholics plotted against Elizabeth in attempt to put Mary on the throne; due to this concern, Mary was placed under house arrest for nineteen years.
Plots Against Elizabeth
Elizabeth’s secretary—Sir Francis Walsingham—uncovered a plot against the queen that was planned by the ambassador of Spain Bernardino de Mendoza.
A man named Anthony Babington was caught seeking Spanish support for an attempt on the queen’s life.
Mary, Queen of Scots, was involved in the plot
Elizabeth ordered the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots which took place on February 18, 1587.
Since Elizabeth ordered the execution of a Catholic queen, Pope Sixtus V publicly announced his support for Catholic Spain’s invasion of Protestant England.
With this nod of approval, Philip II mobilized his Armada for an attack on England.
As the Spanish prepared for attack in the spring of 1587, Sir Francis Drake shelled the port of Cadiz which severely interrupted Spain’s mobilization efforts.
On May 30, 1588 the Armada set sail for England with 130 ships and 25,000 in which they lost in devastating fashion.
Smaller and faster ships enabled the English and Netherlands’ ships disperse the Spanish fleet.
A storm, which became known as the English Wind or Protestant Wind, assisted the English by blowing the Spanish ships off course.
By the time of Philip’s death in 1598 his forces had been stifled on all sides and its overseas empire in the New World was pecked away at by the English and the Dutch.
France succeeded Spain as the dominant nation on the Continent.
When Elizabeth died on March 23, 1603, she left behind a strong nation ready to expand into a global empire.
Section Five: The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648)
This war—which took place in the Holy Roman Empire—was the last and most destructive of the wars of religion.
Bitter hatreds between Catholics, Protestants, Calvinists, and Lutherans set the stage for a long struggle.
The peace that was established in 1648 at the conclusion of the war shaped the map of northern Europe much as we know it today.
Preconditions For War
Germany consisted of about 360 autonomous political entities and each was granted independence in political ideologue by the Peace of Augsburg.
The population of the Holy Roman Empire was equally divided between Protestants and Catholics.
Following the Peace of Augsburg, some Lutherans had gained and kept political control in some Catholic areas just as some Catholics had gained control in some Lutheran areas.
Lutheran had been more successful in securing the right to worship in Catholic areas than the Catholics had been in securing such rights in Lutheran lands.
Catholic rulers demanded that every ecclesiastical prince, electors, archbishops, bishops, and abbots who had deserted the Catholic for the Protestant side be deprived of their religious office and that their land holdings be returned to Catholic control.
The Lutherans and Calvinists in the Palatinate ignored this stipulation.
There was internal feuding within Protestantism as there were liberal and conservative Lutherans and infighting between Calvinists and Lutherans.
Calvinism and the Palatinate
Unrecognized by the Peace of Augsburg, Calvinism found a stronghold in the Holy Roman when Frederick III, a devout convert to Calvinism, became the ruler of the Palatinate and made it the official religion.
Palatinate Calvinists established defensive alliances with powerful anti-Spanish (or Habsburg) nations like England, France, and the Netherlands.
Calvinists launched strong missionary efforts throughout the Holy Roman Empire and became a threat not only to Catholics but also to the Lutherans.
Maximilian of Bavaria and the Catholic League
Bavaria became the center of the Counter Reformation led by the Jesuits who were successful in winning major cities such as Strasbourg and Osnabruck back to Catholicism.
Maximilian I, duke of Bavaria, organized a Catholic League to counter the Protestant system of alliances.
The Catholic League fielded a great army under the command of Count Johann von Tilly and the stage was set for the Thirty Years’ War.
Four Periods of War
The Bohemian Period
When the Habsburg Ferdinand of Styria came to the throne of Bohemia in 1618, he was determined to restore this Protestant region to Catholicism and immediately revoked the religious freedoms of Bohemian Protestants.
The Protestant nobility in Prague responded by throwing Ferdinand’s regents out the window of a royal palace, an event that became known as the “defenestration of prague.”
none of the officials died from the fall
Ferdinand was named Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, unanimously by the seven electors; in response, the Bohemians declared the Calvinist leader of the Palatinate , Frederick V, their king.
Ferdinand’s army under Tilly routed Frederick V’s troops at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620.
Ferdinand II was able to subdue and re-Catholicize Bohemia as well as the Palatinate.
The Lutheran King Christian IV—with the encouragement of England, France, and the Netherlands—marched his army into Germany and was quickly humiliated by Maximilian and forced to retreat.
Ferdinand was assisted in his re-Catholicization by Albrecht of Wallenstein who led an army of 100,000 men into Denmark which completely crushed the Protestant resistance.
Edict of Restitution in 1629
reaffirmed the illegality of Calvinism
ordered the return of all church lands the Lutherans had acquired since 1552
The Swedish Period
Gustavus Adolphus II of Sweden, a pious king of a unified Lutheran nation, became the new leader of Protestant forces,
He was supported by the French minister Cardinal Richelieu and the Dutch, who both had interested in seeing the weakening of the Habsburgs.
The Swedish king led a Protestant alliance to a decisive victory at Breitenfeld in 1630 which changed the momentum of the war.
Key to the Swedish success was the masterful planning of Gustavus Adolphus who brought new mobility to warfare by having both his infantry and cavalry employ fire-and-charge tactics
Gustavus Adolphus was killed by Wallenstein’s forces at the Battle of Lutzen.
Emperor Ferdinand II, who had been aligned with Wallenstein, ordered his assassination in 1634 because he feared his growing independence.
Peace of Prague in 1635
This was a compromise between Emperor Ferdinand II and the German Protestant states.
Sweden—supported by France and the Netherlands—refused to join the agreement.
The Swedish-Franco Phase
The French openly joined the war in 1635 and the war dragged on for thirteen years, as French, Swedish, and Spanish soldiers fought and looted throughout Germany.
The war completely devastated Germany and experts estimate that nearly a third of Germany’s population perished in the conflict.
The Treaty of Westphalia
This document was written in French—rather than Latin—which became the international diplomatic language and symbolized the dominance of France in Europe.
It nullified the Edict of Restitution and asserted the legality of the Peace of Augsburg that had been instituted ninety-three years earlier.
The Independence of the Swiss Confederacy and the United Provinces of the Netherlands were now legally recognized as independent.
The Pope opposed the treaty—but had no power to interfere—because it broadened the legal status of Protestants.
Warfare continued between France and Spain, outside the Holy Roman Empire—until the French forced the Spanish to sign the Treaty of the Pyrenees.
The Treaty of Westphalia kept Germany fragmented.
Two German states, Austria and Prussia, would gain international status during the seventeenth century.
As a result of the Treaty of Westphalia, distinctive nation-states, each with their own political, cultural, and religious identity, reached full maturity and firmly established the competitive nationalism of the modern world.