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Mar 25, 2021 in Articles

Free Article: Charles V and the Reformation

The history of the Reformation should be understood in both theological and political contexts of the XVI century. The relations between the Holy Roman Empire and the Reformation may be explained through the complicated political context of the early XVI century when the Holy Roman Emperor had to solve many problems such as the competition with the Pope and the wars against the French and the Turks.

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The Reformation appeared in the situation when the competition between the secular power of the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope reached its peak. As Bishop underlined, Charles V and the Pope were in conflict because "by the 1520's' the Catholic Church had laid claim to religious authority as well as power over secular rulers of the empire" (8). The rise of the Reformation also coincided with the rise of the Turks as a new threat for the Holy Roman Empire. Furthermore, while Charles V tried to solve the problems of the Protestants and the Turks, the League of Cognac created by the Pope, France, England, and the most powerful Italian states to protect Italy from the Emperor's influence "prevented him from giving attention to this work till 1529" when the League of Cognac was defeated (Spahn). Therefore, in such difficult conditions, Charles V could not successfully resolve the domestic problems with the Protestant princes by force, and the most reasonable way to deal with them was to seek for a compromise.

In conclusion, it is clear that Charles V could not effectively oppose the Protestant princes because he needed resources to protect Europe from the Turks and, at the same time, to protect the Holy Roman Empire from the Pope's ambitions. Meanwhile, the Protestants gradually accumulated military power and political influence. As a result, Charles V had no choice but to seek for peaceful coexistence with the Protestants.

Works Cited

Bishop, Paul A. Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Hillsborough Community College.

Spahn, Martin. "Emperor Charles V." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Accessed 11 Dec. 2017.

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