Counter Reformation-The Council of Trent

Posted on November 6, 2011 by


The Catholic Church was practically the ruling government over the nobles in Europe. In fact, in the past after Rome had adopted what is now known as “Roman Catholicism” christians who were once persecuted such as Perpetua (from the story The Martyrdom of Perpetua) whom was executed in Carthage (I don’t know what it was called after the Punic Wars) for being Christian suddenly became the most favored people in Rome. In fact, in order to serve in the military one had to be Christian. This idea was also somewhat true in the 16th century concerning that members of the catholic church were favored. Also the Crusades, a religious campaign to spread Christianity further in the world, could perhaps suggest that once again one had to be Christian to enlist in the military.

The 16th century was not the best of times for the Catholic Church. New ideas started emerging from what the Catholics viewed as “corrupt” religious officials (bishops, priests, etc.). Thus the Council of Trent was formed. The Council of Trent was in a sense the a religious version of our legislative branch of government. Initiated by Pope Paul III in 1545, the Council of Trent was meant to create institutional reform and also meet the conflict of corrupted religious hierarchs and illicit religious financing such as indulgences. The other goal in order to counter reform from still emerging branches of the Christian faith such as Lutheranism, Calvinism, and the soon to be rival the Protestants, was to uphold the structure of the Medieval Church, doctrine, sacramental system, and religious orders. The Council of Trent would later go to give unbelievable amounts of power to religious officials wherever was needed to effectively counter emerging christian societies in communities from fear of “losing ground” from other religions. The Council of Trent would later attempt to increase “appeal” by putting their own reform into effect. This reform was inspired by Catholic reforms that pre dated the Council of Constance (1414-1417); devotionalism, humanism, legalism, and the observantine tradition.

It is somewhat safe to say that the Catholic Church was somewhat paranoid that they would have all their power taken from in front of them by these emerging branches of the church. It is hard to fully understand the Council of Trent’s motivations just as almost everything else in history however it is probable that since the church “rivaled” the state in the 16th century that they wanted to remain in power. In addition the medieval age was a time period when almost every noble that thought they could achieve absolute power over a region would attempt to do so.

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