Both able to read the Bible aloud with

Both the Protestant and Catholic Reformations saw some of the mostsignificant societal changes in modern history during the 16thCentury. This time in history has been categorized as the greatest religiousmovement for Christ since the early church, the reformation revived Biblicaland New Testament theology and turned more people towards God. Changes weremade possible for women as well as an overall increase in individual motivationto live righteous lives. With the addition of the printing press and readilyavailable reading materials, individual literacy increased.The lives of women in the 16th century were greatlyenhanced by the Protestant Reformation.

Before Martin Luther challenged thechurch on practices such as indulgences and nailed his thesis to the door ofthe church, women’s social status in society was held far below that of aman’s. Women were counted as property owned by the husband. In order to have abetter life, many women were encouraged to remain in nunneries and serve thechurch rather than endure the hardship of marriage and family. Martin Lutherwas one of the first to assert that the woman’s role was in the homeencouraging the sacrament of marriage and the practice of Godliness.

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MartinLuther, a priest, also married and led by example for others to follow. Changesin attitude and beliefs at that time let women begin to understand they werenot just property and they have rights. They were encouraged during this changeto marry and be good wives, good mothers, and good homemakers.

This movetowards family in Germany caused many women to leave the nunneries and startfamilies.While women enjoyed the changes and new found freedoms broughtabout by The Reformation, individual changes across all sexes were also takingplace. An increase in individual responsibility and piety was pushed to theforefront as people were able to read the Bible aloud with their families andin groups in their own languages. This push for individual piety removed thelarger role of the clergy to police societal behavior thereby removing some ofthe power the church held over the individual. These Protestant Reformationinfluences on individuals did cause the Roman Catholic Church to institute somechanges of their own to the status of women. Before the Reformation, only the elite class of people who couldread Latin could understand and interpret the Bible.

Martin Luther translatedthe Bible into German and Wycliffe translated it into English. This led to anincrease in individual desire to live consistency with what the Bible taught,and reduced the need for the clergy in an individual’s life. Soon, Bibles werebeing printed into every language with the help of the Gutenberg PrintingPress. The dramatic change from only priests being able to read the Bible to everyonebeing able read in their own language was extraordinary. The power of theChurch and the Pope also decreased as people began to understand theirChristian faith did not require a priest. The Catholic Reformers continued to push for an increase in Europeof Catholicism.  At the Council of Trent,it was declared that the corruptions in the Church, such as indulgences andfinancial mismanagement, should be removed and fixed.

Bishops were required tolive in their districts and became responsible for the training and educationof their priests and managing them better. When these changes were put intoplace, the Catholic Church saw its attendance increase. The new order of Jesuitsrose out of the Counter-Reformation of the Catholic Church to a higher statusthan the Dominican, Franciscan and Benedictine. The Jesuits claimed to workmore closely with the Pope. His assignment to the Jesuits was to teach andeducate future generations as Catholics, which continues today, and was aproduct of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. 

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