History: Why so many “Reformers/Rebels” Germanic?


But that isn’t how they were marketed in Luther’s lifetime. Otherwise, Luther would have had no need to post the 95 Theses and launch what would become the Reformation. Luther’s entire challenge to Rome’s authority began over the abuse of indulgences. To say that indulgences were abused is one thing, but to say that Protestants just made all the abuses up and that historians are just making it all up to bash Catholics is quite another.

Tell that to Albert of Mainz:

In briefing the vendors Albert reached the pinnacle of pretensions as to the spiritual benefits to be conferred by indulgences. He made no reference whatever to the repayment of his debt to the Fuggers. The instructions declared that a plenary indulgence had been issued by His Holiness Pope Leo X to defray the expenses of remedying the sad state of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the innumerable martyrs and saints whose bones lay moldering, subject to constant desecration from rain and hail. Subscribers would enjoy a plenary and perfect remission of all sins. They would be restored to the state of innocence which they enjoyed in baptism and would be relieved of all the pains of purgatory, including those incurred by an offense to the Divine Majesty. Those securing indulgences on behalf of the dead already in purgatory need not themselves be contrite and confess their sins.

Bainton, Roland H… Here I Stand . Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.


Some of these phrases certainly are not “politically correct.” However, most of what you objected to were my words; although I’m mystified as to why you find them so offensive. When I say that the Reformers thought these practices disgusting, I’m merely stating the obvious. Do you think Luther liked indulgences?

And when it comes to the phrase “endowed masses for the dead” why are you offended? This is a real thing. There is even a definition for it in books and terms for it in Latin :rofl::

In the Middle Ages , an endowed mass (missa fundata) was one common form of ‘pious legacy’ (legatum pium), by which a sum was set aside in perpetuity for the purpose of having masses said regularly on behalf of the soul of the departed.

Uh huh. Have you ever read the 95 Theses yourself?

News flash, anti-Semitism was widespread and deeply rooted in Christian Europe. Luther is hardly unique for his time. Of course, that doesn’t justify him, but it needs to be said that you could point out prominent Catholics who were “notorious” anti-Semites as well. This is the same time period that saw the mass expulsion of Jews from Catholic Spain and discriminatory laws pretty much everywhere.


Mostly, closer to Rome you would be, closer to Pope you would be. This is why most often Northern countries appointed bishops with nominal papal approval, while Pope interfered much more in case of some closer bishops- he would have more chance of actually knowing anything about them. Communication was hard during middle ages.

During days of Holy Roman Empire, there was rivalry between Emperor and Pope. There was also later rivalry between Germans and Italians. Italians remained in Empire nominally, and were mostly subservient to Pope while Germans remained more loyal as Emperors were Germanic, and supported their own. Emperor-Pope rivalry was later cleared, but ethnic rivalry remained.

Some Germans did not like the Pope, and by rule, those did not like Emperor either. Historically, if Papacy was wrong then Holy Roman Empire was wrong (as Emperor was crowned by the Pope). Therefore to escape forced loyalty to the Emperor, some German states decided to support Protestantism. In case of Luther there was a problem with his education, as there were very few good books from Scholastic authors but he inspired himself in Humanism. He read some books from schismatic authors of Scholasticism and therefore gained wrong idea, went against Papacy etc. He later changed his dogmas to accommodate civil rulers and those, who wanted to be free from Emperor, would take the chance.

About Northern countries of Scandinavia, truth be told, the fact Pope could not know bishops he would agree to appoint meant nobles would corrupt Church easier. But that alone did not really have much impact as neither would nobles need to- more impact was that Protestantism was used as cause to overthrow Monarchs and take throne for the rebels. Therefore Protestantism just became agenda.

Politically, Protestantism is a great tool. It allowed rulers to sell bishoprics and minimize critique by the Church. They basically became Popes of their own kingdoms. That was why most Protestant State Churches would hunt Jews (which Catholics were forbidden to do), or later on lean towards atheism. Even Martin Luther himself stated that after reformation, world ceased to worship God.

Bottom line is, Germany was a mess during middle ages. Emperor, highest prestige rank of feudal ruler in Europe, ruled a in-name vassals who would try to escape his grasp. Empire was decentralized yet everybody else believed it wasn’t (France was afraid of HRE, so was England etc). Most other countries would deal with reformers privately, but some of German states decided to USE them. France (Catholic btw) helped reformation to divide Germans and that’s why Protestantism succeeded. It is not true only Germans were reformers, but they were the most successful ones.


Now here I don’t see a single thing that shocks me or has changed - except a significant amount of historical distortion. Guess what, I go to monasteries and request prayers for my intentions from the religious. I give my small contribution towards the upkeep of the religious community. I think their prayers are exceedingly important and change the world (this one and the next) for the better. Those wills going towards religious orders is what made the better part of today’s world Christian. And there’s nothing I like better than the liturgical music by cloistered religious, it beats plenty of modern concerts by light years of distance in quality (so folks back then contributing towards their music makes plentiful practical empirical sense).

So I don’t really think any of that bashing is honest or straight in spirit, letter, or content.


Really nice post @OrbisNonSufficit, and I also appreciate @ltwin earnest sportsmanship and good will.


Yeah, because your Catholic. MacCulloch is a historian trying to teach people about the Reformation, which was a controversy over religion. To do that, he has to teach about the controversy. Much of it was over things like the existence of purgatory and all that goes with it: prayer for the dead, indulgences, the treasury of merit, and the power of the church to dispense that extra merit. Part of his explanation is that in the Germanic speaking lands in northern Europe, there was a greater emphasis on all of that stuff, so perhaps the Reformation succeeded because it attacked those things and offered people an alternative that appealed to them.

Thanks for the discussion.


It probably also helps that the nobility in Poland had a lot more power than the nobles in say France or the duchies of the Holy Roman Empire. I mean Poland itself had an elective monarchy whereby they would choose amongst themselves who would become King.


As a coda, I shall repeat my oft stated rule. Read books. Read books from all angles on a given subject that interests you. Become an informed reader. Winnow the chaff from the wheat.



I don’t think there’s anything suggesting Itwin is not well read. He is offering an opinion for discussion.


Indeed, Itwin is, by the evidence of his posts I’ve read over several years, extremely well and widely read. In some specific areas, as well read as I, in some, more so. That exhortation was not aimed at him. I would be astounded if he thought it was. It’s one I offer generally, and often.

Books are your friend. Everyone’s friend.


Thank you, I agree 100%.


We be of one mind on this, ye and I.

And I’ve been having network connectivity issues for weeks; worse today. Not even sure if this will post. If I disappear, remember that I agree with all posts that are correct, and disagree with all erroneous ones. Mostly.


That’s actually a commonly used Lenin quote to this day :rofl::joy::sweat_smile:




Probably the first time that has occurred.


I do not purport to be an expert on Poland, but I have read that one of the reasons Poland largely rejected Protestantism is that it viewed Protestantism as German. Poland was always wedged between two powerful and overbearing neighbors; Russia and Germany (sometimes also Sweden) Catholicism was and still is, a part of national identity. But it goes beyond that. Poland is surprisingly “Mediterranean” in a number of ways. Its architecture, for example is more like that of France than it is like that of Germany or Russia. Again, its embrace of aspects of Mediterranean culture is a rejection of the culture of its enemy-neighbors and a link to a part of Europe that is neither of those. While virtually all of Europe opposed Napoleon, for example, Poland embraced him.

Finally, Polish view Poland as both the “Savior nation” and “Victim nation”; an identification that is thought of in terms reminiscent of Christ. Poland saved Europe from the Tatars, Turks, and the Mongols. In the last century, it saved western Europe from the Bolsheviks, But it paid the price in martyrdom again and again. That self-image is akin to that of the crucifix of the Catholics, not a bare-board Lutheran cross or a gilded, bejeweled Orthodox Russian cross.

If one for a moment doubted that Polish self-image, all one would have to do to dispel that doubt is to read the words of the Polish National Anthem.



One thing to keep in mind is that the investiture controversy and other clashes between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Emperors were almost entirely a German-Roman affair. It’s not much of a stretch to see the connection between anti-Papal propaganda of Frederick II in the 13th century and Luther in the 15th.


History is most often written through the eyes of the winner and very seldom does the looser write the historic event.


In time it evens out. So, read from all perspectives. Become informed. Make conclusions.



This is a good question.

Dr. David Anders, former Calvinist, and church historian likes to bring up the point that Protestantism is very particular. As it didn’t happen in Syriac East, the Greek East, or Coptic, or Chaldean, or Syro-Malabar India, or any of the other apostolic communities… except in a very particular sliver of Europe.

That’s very suggestive that maybe more was going on than just a faith-based motive to reform the church, as all the apostolic traditions have most essentials in common with Roman Catholicism.


Because Martin Luther who basically started the Protestant Reformation was German

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