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Religion in Europe: Catholicism: Missionaries

Religion in Europe: Catholicism: Missionaries

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The Role of Missionaries. European missionaries to the Americas served two primary purposes. The explorers, monarchs financing the voyages, and missionaries themselves would argue that the more important reason was the Christianizing of the native peoples. Many heathens awaited conversion. Missionaries not only would help save savages from eternal damnation but also would help fulfill the larger project of spreading Christianity throughout the world, thereby helping to effect the Last Days or second coming of Christ. Sending missionaries to the Americas served a second purpose, too. The Catholic Church wanted to send Catholics to spread the faith all over the world and thus check the growth of Protestantism. Likewise, Protestants used missionaries to disseminate their religious beliefs.

Catholic Success. Catholic missionaries were more successful than Protestants in the sixteenth century, for Catholics had the support of the Church and of monarchs. Dominicans, Franciscans, and especially the Jesuits each saw their endeavors become successful even if their work took time. In contrast French Protestants had trouble establishing themselves in South Carolina and Florida. Later, in the seventeenth century, English Puritans, led most notably by minister John Eliot, realized some of the desired results in ministering to the Native Americans.

Dominicans. The Dominican Order of the Catholic Church began as a preaching order in southern France in the early thirteenth century. It was created, in large part, to address the changes resulting from the transformations of feudal governments to more centralized ones and of economies that were becoming more urban. The Dominicans also responded to the growing impact of lay preachers. Living as mendicant friars according to the rule of St. Augustine, which included dedication to study, the Dominicans stressed the contemplative life and apostolic ministry. To realize the former, they took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. For the latter they stressed evangelism and education; indeed, they stressed mobility and the need to be in the world. The Protestant Reformation did much damage to the Dominican Order. However the brothers compensated for this decimation with overseas expansion. The first Dominican friars came to America in 1510. Dominicans were among the founders, with Antonio de Montesinos, of the colony of San Miguel in 1526, near where Jamestown would later be founded. Montesinos, with the support and encouragement of the Dominicans, was a champion of Indian rights. Life, however, proved too difficult, and ultimately the colony failed. Other Dominicans tried to show a modicum of respect for the Native Americans. Bernadino de Minaya, a Dominican who settled in Peru, obtained a papal bull in 1537 which asserted that the natives were not dumb brutes, nor were they incapable of learning the Catholic faith. Bartholomé de las Casas, who perhaps more than any other missionary was a champion of charitable treatment of the natives, became a Dominican in 1523. Despite the good work of many Dominicans, others were not as open-minded (and perhaps more typical); one Dominican friar remarked that Indians ate human flesh and were hostile to religion.

Franciscans. The Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church is actually several groups who profess to live according

to the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi. Taking vows of austerity and poverty, the Franciscans held intellectual dominance until the Reformation. Although this was lost, the Franciscans were still an accomplished order.

Zeal. Reforming impulses led to the reinvigoration of the Franciscan order, especially in Spain. Much of their success came in their ambitious missionary activity, again, especially by the Spanish Franciscans. The Franciscans imperative was to be in the world rather than a cloistered monastic order. Wherever there were Spanish expeditions, so too were there Franciscans. Five Franciscans went to San Domingo with Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1527. In 1539 Franciscans accompanied an expedition to the Gulf of California and another to New Mexico. After the Jesuits unsuccessful attempts at conversion in Florida, the Franciscans took advantage of the void and stepped in after 1584.

Activity in the New World. By 1635 approximately five Franciscan groups were supporting forty-five missions and shepherding nearly thirty thousand Indian converts. In many instances the Franciscans had attempted to translate the catechism into native languages and offered elementary schooling to the Indians. However, this was not always the case: in northern Mexico the Franciscan missionaries made no attempt to understand either the language or culture of their intended audience. Without a sensitive understanding of the Native Americans the missionaries were unsuccessful, and their activities were often met with resistance and violence.

Jesuits. The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, an order of the Catholic Church, was founded by St. Ignatius Loyola. Born in Spain, Ignatius Loyola had been educated in the chivalric tradition. After he was severely wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, Loyola began for the first time to contemplate religious questions. He underwent conversion and was ordained a priest in Paris. Along with fellow students, he created the Society of Jesus. The group made a special vow to God: they would travel anywhere in the world when the Pope so commanded. In this vow they sought to emulate Jesus, who had followed an itinerant life. As missionaries the Jesuits departed from an older view of Catholic orders, which emphasized cloistering, intense study, and reflection and a separation from the world. Christian life, the Jesuits emphasized, was not static. They aimed to effect perfection and salvation in themselves and the general population.

Achieving Their Aims. To achieve this goal the Jesuits placed great importance on teaching, especially through preaching. They believed they were called to preach and thought they could have the most far-reaching effects by preaching in public places. The Jesuits also organized schools; by 1556 they had set up thirty-three schools in Europe. Schools were meant to help our neighbors, including the poor. They taught the laity as well as the clergy. Teaching and establishing schools gave the Society of Jesus an evangelical bent. Although the Society was not founded to counter the Reformation, the order became tremendously popular in France, and Jesuits played a major role in keeping France from falling completely into Protestant hands.

Efforts Abroad. Obeying their vows to go anywhere in the world, Spanish Jesuits were particularly active as missionaries in the Americas. They went to Florida in 1527, 1539, and 1549. However, it was not until 1565 that they established a colony of even minimal success. They helped found St. Augustine, Florida, but as living conditions were difficult and they disagreed among themselves and with the lay explorers about how to set up the colony, they were soon replaced by the Franciscans. Spanish Jesuits also went to areas in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. French Jesuits met with greater success. French explorers such as Champlain asked for Jesuit assistance in converting Indians in the vast amounts of land to be colonized. In New France

(Nova Scotia, Acadia, and the St. Lawrence River Valley) the Jesuits established a solid presence. By 1600 the Jesuits had founded nearly 250 schools around the world. While they might have converted many native peoples, it is difficult to know if the Indians truly understood and believed their teachings or were acting diplomatically. Often the Jesuits methods included showing the native peoples that their own religious leaders were ineffective and that only the Jesuits could bring about positive change.

Sources

William A. Hinnebusch, The History of the Dominican Order (New York: Alba House, 1973);

Lazaro Iriarte, Franciscan History: The Three Orders of St. Francis of Assisi, translated by Patricia Rose (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983);

John W. OMalley, The Society of Jesus, in Religious Orders of the Catholic Reformation, edited by Richard L. DeMoen (New York: Fordham University Press, 1994).

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Religion in Europe: Catholicism: The Inquisition

Religion in Europe: Catholicism: The Inquisition

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Special Tribunals. While the Inquisition stands out among few other events in history as an example of the human capacity for intolerance and cruelty, its motivation was the preservation of doctrinal purity. From the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries the Roman Catholic Church in western Europe employed aspects of Roman legal procedure and appointed clergy to carry out the task of preserving orthodox beliefs from heresy. These tribunals were institutionalized, and the personnel and procedures were termed inquisitions. In the beginning the inquisitors used persuasion to discover if those Christians suspected of heresy were, indeed, heretics. Over time, however, as heresy was feared to be increasing, persuasion gave way to coercion.

Spain. In Spain, from the fourteenth century on, economic and social transformations created political and economic upheaval. As a result non-Christians, Muslims, and Jews had new legal disabilities thrust upon them. Many Jews converted toward the end of the fourteenth century; they became known as conversos. In all, more than two hundred Jewish communities were destroyed, and 160,000 Jews either fled or converted. Those who fled were not allowed to take gold, arms, horses, or money out of Spain, and they wandered, often starving, in search of new homes. Now the inquisitors subjected conversos to the inquisitors inspections, and the former Jews were often accused of being false Christians or having gone through invalid conversions. Between 1440 and 1465 anti-Semitism intensified, and Spaniards were particularly hated. Conversos as worse than Jews, for the new Christians now had privileges and positions not available to them before. At the same time Spanish Christians believed their religious practices to be purer and superior.

Ferdinand and Isabella. In this climate the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella requested a papal bull establishing an inquisition. In November 1478 Pope Sixtus IV allowed them to appoint inquisitors. The monarchs assigned the task of naming priests to the Dominican Order, and by October 1480 the inquisition was at work. Many conversos fled Spain. After an alleged converso plot to destroy the inquisitors was discovered in Seville in 1481, the conversos were widely attacked, and the first public burning of condemned heretics was carried out.

Gaining Strength. Ferdinand took further measures to control the Inquisition. In 1482 he took the action of joining the inquisitions of two Spanish kingdoms, Castile and Aragon, thereby strengthening his own power. He and Isabella also issued an edict expelling the Jews from Spain in 1492. Thus the monarchy was actively engaged in combating heresy and ensuring religious purity in Spain.

Revitalization. The number of heretics had all but dwindled when, in 1520, new Protestant movements had sprung up in the German states to revitalize the Inquisition. The tribunals acted quickly and intensely to combat the offending Lutherans. Tribunals would come to towns harboring suspected heretics. Local preachers would define heresy in sermons and issue Edicts of Grace, in which parishioners could voluntarily confess or point out suspects to the inquisitors. After 1500 it became mandatory to identify suspects to the inquisitors. Those who did not, according to the 1500 Edict of Faith, would be excommunicated. Treatment of the accused became increasingly harsh: land and goods were taken; the suspected heretic was jailed at his own expense until the hearing was completed; and if, despite sufficient evidence, the accused did not confess, the inquisitors permitted torture. Lutherans were especially persecuted after 1558. Torture occurred relatively infrequently, since the inquisitors sought penitence rather than justice. Spanish territories were fair game for the Board of Inquisitors; both Mexico and Hispaniola, where conversos had fled, had inquisitions in place. The Inquisition was also present in Portugal and Italy. The Spanish Inquisition was particularly long-lived and was not abolished until 1814.

The Black Legend. One historian has suggested that the Spanish Inquisition as we perceive it todayas a single, continuous process replete with tortureis a myth. Protestants from the sixteenth century onward exaggerated its reach to show how brutal the Catholics could be to heretics. This Black Legend holds that Spain represented and epitomized repression, brutality, and political and spiritual intolerance. Such intolerance was not limited to Catholics: Protestants in England pursued Catholics, but without the official structure of the Inquisition.

The Return of the Lord

Most Of the prophecies of holy Scripture have already been fulfilled. The Scriptures say this and the Holy Church loudly and unceasingly is saying it, and no other witness is necessary. I will, however, speak of one prophecy in particular because it bears on my argument and gives me support and happiness whenever I think about it....

I have already said that for the voyage to the Indies neither intelligence nor mathematics nor world maps were of any use to me; it was the fulfillment of Isaiahs prophecy. This is what I want to record here in order to remind Your Highnesses and so that you can take pleasure from the things I am going to tell you about Jerusalem on the basis of the same authority. If you have faith in this enterprise, you will certainly have the victory....

The sons of the ones who humbled you will come, bending low to you; and all who disparaged you will worship the traces of your feet and will call you the city of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one passing through, I will make you majestic forever, a joy throughout the ages. You will suck the milk of the people and be nursed at the breasts of kings; and you will know that I, the Lord, am your saviour and your redemptor, the mighty one of Jacob.

Source: The Book of Prophecies Edited by Christopher Columbus, edited by Roberto Rusconi (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 75, 203.

Sources

Edward Peters, The Inquisition (New York: Free Press, 1988);

David Raphael, ed., The Expulsion 1492 Chronicles (North Hollywood, Cal.: Carmi House Press, 1992).

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Religion in Europe: Women

Religion in Europe: Women

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Place in Society. The Catholic Church venerated women. Although in the Old Testament it was Eve who led Adam into temptation, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Ann, her mother, were lauded as examples of virtue and godliness. In the Church womens roles were circumscribed; they could become nuns, not priests (although nuns contributions were valued). Some women, such as Teresa of Ávila, were valued (and feared) for their mystical visions and reform activities during the Counter-Reformation.

A WOMAN SPEAKS OUT

It seemed so funny to me, it made me laugh, because in this matter I was never afraid, it was well known that in matters of the faith, I would die a thousand deaths before Id go against even the least ceremony of the church, or against any in the Sacred Scriptures. And I said that... if I thought there was any reason [to fear the Inquisition], I would go to them myself, and that if such an accusation were raised, the Lord would free me and I would profit from it.

Source: Gillian T. W. Ahlgren, Teresa of Avila and the Politics of Sanctity (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996), p. 44.

The Reformation. The Protestant Reformation both enlarged and diminished womens opportunities. Often the best time for women was in the few years after a town had adopted the reformed faith. Institutions and structures were somewhat fluid, and women had some opportunity to create a place for themselves. Both women and men participated in the religious wars and riots which characterized the sixteenth century. On the one hand, womens increased activity angered men; many cities prohibited women from gathering to discuss religion. On the other hand, reformers such as Calvin and Luther needed and cultivated relationships with women. Calvin looked for the support of noblewomen, and Luther corresponded with several women. In each case both relied upon female converts to bring their influential male relatives, such as local rulers, to reformed religion.

Changes. Unlike Catholicism, which celebrated women as saints and pious believers, Protestantism aimed to strip away such externals, which were considered unnecessary to faith. Calendar days which honored women were eradicated; so were processions and other activities which allowed womens participation and gave women an active role in religious life. Joining a convent, long an option for women (and one that gave them a degree of autonomy), was no longer a possibility as marriage and motherhood were womens highest callings.

Fear. Protestantism and Catholicism shared a basic fear of women: that they, more than men, might be agents of Satan, as witches. As Protestant teaching spread among the laity, so did popular superstition, including that of the woman as witch. Women without a proper place in societyolder women, single women, widows, poor women, and childless womenwere especially feared. Without social ties and limits, these women were particularly appealing to the Devil. The changing legal system permitted larger witchcraft trials. Once accusatory, the system became more inquisitorial. Whereas before the accuser had to stand before the accused, the system became more anonymous and official, and legal authorities could bring charges. Curiously, the Roman and Spanish inquisitions acted with lenience on witches, for they pitied those whom they thought bedeviled as mere pawns of Satan.

Witches. Witchcraft was not only a fear in Europe. In 1585 Jean Lery, a French explorer, wrote about how Brazilian native women, like their Christian counterparts, were prone to giving in to the Devil. The Puritans of New England were especially on the lookout for witches, culminating in the Salem trials of 1692 in Massachusetts.

Sources

Robin Briggs, Witches and Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft (New York: Penguin, 1996);

Merry E. Wiesner, Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

THE PEOPLE FROM HEAVEN

In a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain dated 4 March 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote:

Nowhere in these islands have I known the inhabitants to have a religion, or idolatry, or much diversity of language among them, but rather they all understand each other. I learned that they know that all powers reside in heaven. And, generally, in whatever lands I traveled, they believed and believe that I, together with these ships and people, came from heaven, and they greeted me with such veneration. And today, this very day, they are of the same mind, nor have they strayed from it, despite all the contact they [the Spaniards at La Navidad] may have had with them. And then, upon arriving at whatever settlement, the men, women, and children go from house to house calling out, Come, come and see the people from heaven!

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Religion in Europe: Catholicism

Religion in Europe: Catholicism

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The Universal Church. Until the middle of the fifteenth century the overwhelming majority of Europeans were Christians, and the overwhelming majority of them were Catholics. There had long been calls for reform of the Church. While a few groups might have been discontented with the Church and splintered off to form their own religions, to be Christian in Europe was to be a member of the Catholic Church, adhering to the authority of the Pope in Rome as the Vicar of Christ and to his shepherds spread throughout Western Europe, the cardinals, bishops, parish priests, and nuns. The word catholic means universal; the Catholic Church was so named because of its universal membership and authority of the Pope throughout the Continent rather than the sectarian divisions that would characterize Protestantism. Religion had a tremendous influence in everyday life: the calendar, with its saints days, feasts, and fasts, helped dictate the rhythm of life; so, too, the icons and images of Jesus and the saints gave religion a visual presence in churches and homes alike. However, not all Catholics were content with the Church. Late-medieval critics decried the lackluster papacy and practices such as simony (the selling of spiritual goods) and other forms of abuse as well as the general spiritual poverty. This was followed by a revival of religious practice fortified by the vitality of groups such as the Spiritual Franciscans, Waldensians, and Hussianites.

The Road to Reformation. The mid fifteenth century found many Catholics dissatisfied with what they perceived to be growing corruption and declining spirituality. Many clerical leaders were interested more in their own material gain than in leading their flocks. The sale of indulgences (payments to the Church which shortened the amount of time Catholics or their deceased relatives had to spend in purgatory) and absentee priests (in which priests served more than one parish and were supported by each of those parishes but were not present) led many to call for reforms. Martin Luther and John Calvin were among the most prominent reformers; Calvin in particular drew many Catholics away from the Church. In 1534 Henry VIII, King of England, dealt another blow to the Church. After the Pope refused to grant him a divorce, Henry created the Church of England. The Church of England resembled the Catholic Church except at the head stood the English

monarch rather than the Pope. The creation of the English church opened the door for reformers. When Mary, Henrys staunchly Catholic daughter, ascended the throne, she not only reconnected with the Church in Rome but also persecuted or forced those in opposition to the Catholic Church into exile on the Continent. England did not remain a Catholic country for long; when Marys half sister, Elizabeth I, came to the throne in 1558, she did so as a Protestant and helped defend reformed religion not only in her country but also throughout Europe.

The Counter-Reformation. The Catholic Church did not sit idle, watching its numbers diminish. The clergy and laity instituted a series of changes known as the Counter-Reformation. Recognizing the existence of abuses, the Church sought to purify itself. While the Catholic Church stressed that it was not acting only in response to Protestantism but rather was putting into place much-needed reform, it is clear that both the origins of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation could be found

in a shared discontent with the status quo. The Church took up the question of reform primarily at the Council of Trent (1545-1563). The council articulated doctrine on such matters as salvation and grace and defined the seven sacraments. Indeed, the Council of Trent gave the Catholic Church a doctrinal clarity lacking in Protestantism. The Church rededicated itself to the education of priests, establishing several seminaries for that purpose, and gave the Society of Jesus a special role, entrusted with promoting missionary work as well as education. Indeed, establishing missionaries in the New World and Asia was one of the major works of the Catholic Reformation (as the Counter-Reformation is also known). Ultimately the Counter-Reformation helped to revitalize spirituality and change religious culture to recognize the needs of the laity.

Sources

John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 14001700 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985);

Richard Mackenney, Sixteenth-Century Europe: Expansion and Conflict (New York: St. Martins Press, 1993).

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Religion in Europe: Protestantism

Religion in Europe: Protestantism

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Importance of Faith. Protestantism developed in response to perceptions that the Catholic Church was departing from matters of faith and spirituality in favor of material concerns. Protestants placed great emphasis on the importance of faith and belief, achieved through a transformation of ones heart. The way to know God was through reading the Bible and listening to sermons. Preaching would assist one in the quest for finding God. Thus the spread of Protestantism led to a rise in literacy as believers took it upon themselves to learn Gods word. In contrast to Catholicism, Protestant theology did not find good works, such as the paying of indulgences or the building of lavish altars, a sign of salvation. Good works were correlatives of faith, not preludes, as the historian Huston Smith has argued. When one possessed faith, good works would naturally flow. Despite their downplaying of good works, Protestants nonetheless stressed the importance of self-discipline. And Protestants believed in only two sacraments, baptism and communion, of the seven the Catholics revered.

History. Calls for reform are as old as Christianity itself. Sometimes heeded and sometimes not, reforms came in waves, but the basic structure of the Catholic Church remained in place until the Reformation. The Reformation was the most massive and permanent set of reforms. Indeed some historians have argued that Martin Luther, one of the primary architects of the Reformation, did not mean to rend the Church. Luther, Calvin, and their intellectual heirs succeeded because they gained the support of monarchs, nobles, local leaders, and the laity. In some cases rulers joined the Protestant movement because it was politically or economically advantageous; in other cases their faith was genuine. Harbingers of the Reformation were present in the late fourteenth century. John Wyclif, an English theologian, criticized the Churchs abuses and late in his life called for appeals to Scripture as the most sound authority. He denied the dogma of transubstantiation as being unscriptural. He called for the stripping of all temporal (and therefore extraneous) possessions held by both Church and king. While the monarchy regarded him as a threat and his ideas as heretical, he gained much popular support and went on to train lay preachers known as the Lollards. In their efforts at purifying the Church the Lollards have been called precursors to the Puritans. From the beginning, several varieties of Protestantism existed. Luther and Calvin advocated different theologies. Some sects, such as the Puritans, argued that the Church of England variety of Protestantism was not pure enough; some groups of Puritans further advocated separating from the Church of England.

Expansion. Protestantism was able to spread in some locales because of political support and its popularity among the people and because of the Churchs inability to suppress it. Calvinism, supported by Genevan princes, caught on in Switzerland. Though popular in France, Calvinism was resisted by the monarchies, and only a series of religious wars ensured that Catholicism would prevail. In England, Henry VIII cut the ties between himself and the Pope, but for personal reasons (the Pope refused to grant him a divorce). His children did not agree on religious issues: while Mary persecuted Protestants, Elizabeth, pushed by Parliament, moved England in a more Protestant direction. Other countries, such as Spain, remained firmly Catholic.

Source

Sidney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972).

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Religion in Europe: Religious Conflict

Religion in Europe: Religious Conflict

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Origins and Causes. Wars of religion exemplified the extent to which animosity between Catholics and Protestants had developed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As Protestantism spread throughout northern Europe, Protestants of different nationalities felt closer to members of their own faith than to their countrymen. The same was true of Catholics. For instance, the Spanish king, ruling over the Netherlands, sent twenty thousand Spanish soldiers to suppress religious and political dissidents in 1567. In 1570 the Pope excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, thereby freeing English Catholics from owing allegiance to her and giving them the right to overthrow her. Elizabeth tried to assist the Dutch by sending six thousand troops to Holland. The Spanish king, Phillip II, believed that the best way to defeat the English was to send an armada, or fleet, to defeat Englands weak navy. However, England defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588 and emerged as a stronghold of Protestantism.

The Case of France. The French witnessed much more horror in the wars of religion. French Protestants, the Huguenots, were radical in their demands: to them, no middle road existed. The Huguenots threatened the monarchys power, and the king was intent on destroying them. Some monarchs as well as Catherine de Medici, regent for her young son, tried to straddle a middle ground between Catholic and Huguenot. Catherine issued the Edict of St. Germaine in 1562, which proclaimed limited but legal recognition of the Huguenots. This edict led to violence as the Duke of Guise, staunch leader of the Catholic faction, commanded his troops to fire shots at the Protestants. This was the beginning of three generations of violence and took power away from Calvinist clergy, putting it into the hands of nobles. Ultimately, with the Edict of Nantes, issued during the rule of Henry IV (himself a former Protestant) in April 1598, the monarchy reached an agreement with the Huguenots. Unity, not toleration, was the aim. Huguenots were given full civil rights, including admission to college and the ability to hold public office. Their right to worship freely was severely restricted. It was a settlement which pleased neither side and which cost Henry his life; an unhappy Catholic murdered the king in 1610. (Louis XIV would revoke the Edict of Nantes in 1685.) Persecutions, including burnings at the stake, began in the 1530s, and in all there were eight wars. Some Huguenots fled to present-day Florida and South Carolina to escape persecution and build Huguenot havens, though with limited success. The wars of religion lasted for several more decades in France, not ending until 1648.

Effects. The wars of religion did not only affect Europe, where they took place, nor did they influence only matters of faith. They touched economics, politics, and society. They also contributed to the ability of France to participate in overseas exploration and colonization. The more France had to focus its attention and resources on civil wars, the less it had to give to colonization.

Source

Mack P. Holt, The French Wars of Religion, 15291629 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

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Religion in Europe: Catholicism: Missionaries: Efforts in St. Augustine

Religion in Europe: Catholicism: Missionaries: Efforts in St. Augustine

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Beginnings. The first mission to the Timuca Indians of St. Augustine took place in 1565 as the Spanish reclaimed Florida from the Huguenots. Spain had first laid claim to the city, which its founder, Juan Ponce de León, believed held the Fountain of Youth, in 1513. In 1564, after the French Protestants established Fort Caroline twenty-five miles to the north, the Spanish became alarmed that the French might take control and that the Huguenots would have the chance to convert the Indians. Although the Jesuits had tried to convert the natives, they had been unsuccessful, and by 1572 the last of the Jesuits had left Florida. The Jesuits goal of converting large numbers of natives was hampered by the fact that several Jesuits were killed by the Indians and by the frequent disagreements between the soldiers and friars distracting the missionaries. This did not end the goal of converting the natives. Despite difficult living conditions, the Franciscans wanted to gain a foothold in Florida and continued to send friars. In May 1584 eight Franciscans sailed from Spain, but only three arrived. Three years later another twelve came to St. Augustine, and in 1590 eight more arrived. By 1592 only three remained. Twelve Franciscans arrived in 1595, and at last their missionary efforts began to take off in earnest.

Reasons for the Failure. Missionary efforts in St. Augustine ultimately did not succeed as the Spanish had hoped for several reasons. The Spanish government regarded Florida as a distant frontier and withheld financial and organizational support, and the missionaries themselves, both Jesuits and Franciscans, were unable and unwilling to build support among the native peoples. Rather than being eager and easy objects of conversion, the Indians manipulated the missionaries, often extracting Spanish goods in exchange for religious conversion. If the Spanish were to Christianize the Indians, it was in the settlers best interests to keep good relations with their neighbors. This was not to be the case. The missionaries exacted tributeanimal skins, corn, and laborfrom the Indians. Finally, in the 1610s, missionaries in St. Augustine began to see the fruits of their labors

as the number of Indian conversions began to increase. Ultimately, however, these efforts were doomed to failure. The Timuca dwindled from six thousand to ten thousand (estimates vary) in 1600 to less than one hundred by the time the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States in 1821.

Sources

Charles E. Bennett, Laudonniere and Fort Caroline, History and Documents (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964);

Jerald T. Milanich, Florida Indians and the Invasion from Europe (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1995).

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Religion in Europe: Protestantism: Calvinism

Religion in Europe: Protestantism: Calvinism

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Theological System. Calvinism is the name given to the theological system of John Calvin and his followers. Calvinism had a tremendous impact in Europe and on the Puritans who came to New England. It has also influenced many aspects of life and culture as well as religion in the United States from the seventeenth century to the present. At the heart of Calvins system was the idea of Sola Scriptura, or Scripture as the sole source of knowledge needed to attain salvation. More important than symbols that were so much a part of Catholic practice was ones understanding of the Bible, which would, in turn, deepen ones faith. Adherence to biblical law would check the depravity that humans had carried with them since Adam. People also needed to have faith, for hearing sermons or receiving the sacraments held little meaning without it. However, faith or grace was not available to all. Calvin proffered the notion of predestination. God had chosen who was predestined to be among the elect, or saved, and who was damned. Members of the elect were a part of the invisible church, and only God knew who they were. Following St. Augustine, the seventh-century Christian thinker, Calvin also believed that a visible church existed, the historical church on Earth. Membership in the visible church, earned by upright, moral behavior, was also important and a goal to be worked toward. It was also evidence that one might be a part of the invisible church.

Social System. Calvinism must also be considered as a social system. Both to achieve and reflect status in the visible church, Christians were to behave in a certain way in daily life, not only on the Sabbath and other holy days. Such uprightness might be a sign of sainthood. Calvin envisioned a model Christian society. Yet because he believed that humans were depraved as a result of Adams original sin, self-discipline and social control had to be imposed to achieve the desired ends. In Geneva a council of twelve elders was appointed. They instituted rules of discipline. Life was austere: music and incense were forbidden, as were bright colors and decorations, for they were temptations to evil and distractions from godliness. In establishing their new societies the Puritans who immigrated to New England were able to adhere more closely to Calvins idea of a model Christian community than either Calvin or his followers in Europe ever could. Calvinism, both in the Old and New Worlds, particularly appealed to the emergent middle class. Industrious and pious, they found particularly appealing the tenet that hard work and discipline suggested godliness and election.

Source

Michael A. Mullett, Calvin (New York: Routledge, 1989).

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Religion in Europe: Protestantism: The Huguenots

Religion in Europe: Protestantism: The Huguenots

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Background. The Huguenots were French Protestants. As John Calvin was French, the sect he founded spread quickly throughout France. While their numbers were not significant (between 1560 and 1570, the high watermark of their success, twelve hundred churches, or 10 percent of all churches in France, were Protestant), the Huguenots were extremely vocal and uncompromising in their demands. Some were content with local religious rights; others would only be happy with the spread of Protestantism throughout France, if not the world. Although the French monarchy was not closely tied to Rome and, in fact, was frequently at odds with the Pope, kings feared the Huguenots because they threatened the power of the monarch and a national church. Nobles enjoyed the autonomy Protestantism allowed them; many chose to convert since being Huguenot gave them the liberty to listen to their own consciences and follow their own laws rather than those of the Catholic monarch or the Church. Without the support of some powerful and wealthy nobles, the monarchs authority was compromised. In time Protestantism became a power to be reckoned with, and several French kings recognized the wisdom of establishing a good relationship with the Huguenots and extending more rights to them. However, this did not mean the Huguenots were popularly accepted. The persecution of Huguenots began in the 1550s, including burnings at the stake. The violence culminated in the St. Bartholomews Day Massacre on 24 August 1572. Some Huguenots were even dragged out of bed after midnight; when it was over, about twelve thousand French Protestants had been killed.

The Americas. The Huguenots tried to bring their religion to the New World. In part this was to spread Protestantism and check the growth of Catholicism in the Americas; in part it was to provide a refuge for themselves. In 1562 they established the colony of Fort Caroline near present-day Jacksonville, Florida. However, three years later Pedro Menéndez de Avilés organized an expedition to drive the French out and gain control of Florida. The Spanish colony of St. Augustine was established, and the Huguenot (as well as French) presence in the area was eliminated.

Source

Mack P. Holt, The French Wars of Religion, 15621629 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

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Religion in Europe: Protestantism: Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses

Religion in Europe: Protestantism: Luthers Ninety-Five Theses

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Motivations. According to popular lore, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses against the sale of indulgences on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, on 31 October 1517. While it now appears improbable that he took hammer in hand, his influence on Christianity in Europe and both indirectly and directly in the Americas is indisputable. Luther protested the sale of indulgences or purchased redemption from sin, which profited both Rome and his local archbishop. Archbishop Albert of Hohenzollern hoped to finance his recent elevation to Archbishop of Mainz, a politically important post, through indulgences. Luther precipitated a popular movement in Germany, capitalizing on widespread anti-Roman and anticlerical sentiment. Ultimately he formulated a new understanding of the Christian faith and helped begin the Reformation.

Impact. Of course the spread of reformed religion had a widespread effect on Europe. Those countries barely affected (such as Spain) took advantage of wars and political strife afflicting countries such as England and France, using the opportunity to move ahead in the colonization race. The initial advantage of Catholic Spain prevailed in New Spain. Ironically, however, reformed religion, embracing that which Luther had advocated in the Ninety-five Theses and other writings, would prevail in North America.

Source

John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 14001700 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).

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