Ideally, when it comes to disagreement and dissent, the Catholic Church is supposed to act with love and charity toward those who disagree with it. A more modern perspective also brings the expectation of non-coercion, although this was not always the expectation. But that has been a discussion for a couple of different threads.
At any rate, here is the hypothetical. Suppose that the Catholic Church has, in fact, not acted with love and charity toward dissenting parties, whether they are heretics otherwise known as Protestants or earlier heretics that are lesser-known on account of dying out. Mysteriously. If necessary, you may treat this as a counter-factual. If you like, you may assert that of course the Church has always acted with love and charity toward heretics and dissenters, but this is a question of what would be at stake if it had not done so.
Suppose, instead of acting with love and charity, the Church actually acted with wrath, coercion, violence, and hateful enmity toward the sorts of people that it was supposed to show love and charity toward, at least on some level. In this hypothetical, we are assuming that the Church should have done a certain type of thing by acting with love and charity toward a certain type of people, but instead of doing that it did the wrong thing on a pretty consistent basis.
If this were so, and I ask that you at least imagine it is so for the sake of the hypothetical, what would that mean for a historical perspective on Catholic history? I will go ahead and assume that it does not have anything to do with doctrine or dogma or with the Church’s teaching authority, so let us agree to leave that untouched. But what would this do to one’s historical perspective on the history of Catholicism, if it were true that the Church should have acted in a certain way and it very often acted in a completely wrong way while failing to display any form of love or charity toward certain people that it should have? What would it mean from a perspective of historical inquiry, and what would it mean for your interactions with Protestants that you might speak to on matters pertaining to our Christian past?