Factors preceding
the Reformation

Forerunning factors to the Protestant Reformations had been accumulating for many years.

Christianity in crisis in the Western Europe

  • One of the first printing houses © S.H.P.F.

At the beginning of the XVIth century, several factors were to combine to shatter the unity of Western Christianity and bring about a new relationship with God in the midst of a climate of intolerance, of passion and of violence, worsened by political deviation and abuse. Amongst these factors figured the following :

  • the moral and political crisis of Western Christianity,
  • pre-reformation ideas that had been condemned by the Church,
  • the Renaissance ideas from Italy,
  • humanism,
  • Gutenberg‘s invention of a new technique for massive diffusion : the printing press.

Associated notes

  • Christianity in the West in 16th century

    At the beginning of the 16th century, the Church of Rome had been in a state of moral and political crisis for two centuries, but had not managed to overcome...
  • Pierre Valdo (1140-1217) and the Waldenses

    Pierre Valdo started the Waldenses movement, which spread throughout southern Europe.
  • John Wyclif (c. 1328-1384) and the Lollards

    Wyclif, a distant precursor of the Reformation, challenged the Church’s authority and hierarchy. His followers, the Lollards, instigated a peasant revolt. They denounced the established Church.
  • Jan Hus (1369-1415) and the Hussite wars (1419-1436)

    Hus was a Czech priest, who, a century before Luther, called for a reform of the Chuch and was burnt at the stake. His death set off a religious, political...
  • Forerunners of the Reformation

    The Forerunners of the Reformation developed many ideas which inspired Luther. Among them Pierre Valdo was the first, in the XIIth century.
  • Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples (1450-1537)

    Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples was a theologian who founded the “Cenacle of Meaux” and was the first to translate the Bible into French.
  • The "Cenacle of Meaux" (1521-1525)

    The “Cenacle of Meaux” was founded in 1521 by Lefèvre d’Etaples ; its function was to encourage reflexion on the Scriptures and to spread new ideas – notably, it advocated the...
  • Michel de l'Hospital (1505-1573)

    Michel de l’Hospital was a Catholic lawyer, who was called on by Catherine de Médicis to try to establish the peaceful coexistence of Catholics and Protestants. However he failed in...
  • The revolution of printing

    Block print technology was now highly developed and had a considerable impact on the dissemination of ideas – it was thanks to printing that the ideas of the Reformation spread...