The Renaissance was an immediate predecessor to the Reformation. The changes that occurred during the Renaissance period undoubtedly had a significant impact on the Reformation era. And there are a lot of examples and indisputable facts, which prove this. The Renaissance and the Reformation are closely tied. They both have played a significant role in the formation of the bourgeois-democratic societies in Europe and of the creation of a new framework of the European culture. The ideas of reforming the Church expressed by many philosophers of the Renaissance and a comprehensive critique of the medieval philosophy as well as the affirmation of principles of the bourgeois individualism of humanists have played a significant role in the ideological preparation to the Reformation. Both the Reformation and the Renaissance have placed a human energetic personality in the center. It aimed at transforming the world with a strong-willed principle. But during the Reformation, some Renaissance ideas have got more disciplinary effects. They have encouraged the individualism, but injected it into the strict limits of morality based on religious values. Those periods had a wider socio-political and spiritual significance. They stressed the unity of these two trends in their struggle against the feudal system, the medieval philosophy and scholastic philosophy. We should indicate the substantial differences between these two periods. As the Renaissance humanist culture was predominantly secular, its development was affected by small segments of the society created by educated people. This was done for the people having an access to education in such conditions.
“The Renaissance became a triumph of individuality, and, to some degree, a loss of dominion of the centralized authority. That’s why this caused the explosion in arts by such outstanding people as Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rafael and others. These reasons have become a result of the protestant reformation. The Renaissance also helped to spread some ideas and theses that led to the new ways of thinking in a reformation period. The ideas of Calvin and Luther, the philosophers that preached to the Protestants, were provided and accepted due to the printing of the mass media that had been invented during the period of the Renaissance. They also spread the thought that people could opt for between a right thing and a wrong one without the religion stating them what to do and what to choose. This assisted people in breaking away from the Catholic Church and in finding the religions that gave them more sense and understanding to beliefs taking their own forms due to the Renaissance.” (“The Relationship between the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation”).
The Start of the Reformation
The reformation is covered by the widest population spreading the revolutionary ideas that are understandable to the common people. No wonder that the Reformation has become the first flag of the bourgeois revolution that took place not only in the purely secular, political or legal forms but later acquired a religious connotation. The first great surge of nationalism which embraced the whole people’s religion was depoliticized and deterritorialized. The religious tolerance has been established as there was the supremacy of the Parliament over the King. There the individualism of Reformation asserted itself against the authoritarianism; the foundations were laid for a new epoch into which the essential elements of Renaissance and Reformation were transformed and incorporated, an epoch whose light was to down upon the Continent”.
The Protestant Reformation influenced greatly on the direction of philosophy during the Renaissance. It started in Germany with the rebellion against the Catholic Church of Rome. The higher Clergy of the Roman Church controlled Europe in the 16th century. The higher Clergy lived in the corruption and sin. People saw that the clergymen were doing the things being contrary to the religion. People rised against such kind of sinful religion. They desired a change in the whole Church structure. This strong desire of people caused the beginning to the revolution in the religion of Europe. This was termed as “The Reformation” with the purpose to change the total Church institution. The reformation’s figures targeted at the certain major areas of change. They sought to improve the moral lives of Clergy. They attempted to reject the Papal pretension to his ecclesiastical supremacy. They asserted the political power and importance at the national level. This rising against the tradition caused several consequences. Since the 13th century, the Catholic popes did not do their basic work which was the spreading of religion. They were interested only in the world pleasures. In other words, they indulged into what their religion considered as excess. They were also involved in politics of Europe for the personal reasons. The common people understood all this. Some antagonistic feelings were rising. Another sore factor was that the Church owned much of land. The revenue from this land became the property of the Roman treasury. It caused a heavy drain to the National Treasury as this money could be used for the national development of country. The Pope used to dominate the European politics. He acted as on his own, often setting aside the desires of kings and princes. With the rise of nationalism, the discontent was being latent (“Reformation in Europe”).
The one of the initiator of the Reformation was Martin Luther. He was indignant by the malfeasance of clergymen and posted a document containing 95 Theses attacking abuses in the Church. He couldn’t imagine that such a little scrap of paper would provoked a revolt in Germany, which quickly spread throughout Europe and then all over the world. The rebellions were of a great importance for the Europian culture and the politics system. They loosened the grip which the Medieval Church had on the people’s intellectual thoughts. The Church had a strict control over books publishing and spreading of the scientific and religious ideas. Besides, the infringement of these norms was punished by death. The Reformation has developed the world culture, philosophy and science outside the influence of the medieval scholasticism and the centralized church authority.
The Reformation emancipated into several national governments from the authority of religion and gave the opportunity for the nations to take their decisions independently of the Church. The poor peasants now didn’t have to pay the taxes to the Church. The Reformation also freed England, Scotland, Denmark, and North Germany away from the Church authority. The Protestantism made the Bible the basis of the new faith. The church authority reduced greatly. Now the every aspect of religion had lost its importance to people. All these things were described by Machiavelli in his book. As for the Prince, he was very prevalent at the turn of the century and just before the Reformation.
The basic course of Reformation, the other aspect of the Renaissance within some certain limits, was the right of schism and the right of the free examination. It was the natural consequence of movement towards the individualisation and differentiation which took place at that date within the homogeneous Europian mass.
In the historical books, the Renaissance is marked as the period of flourishing the study of classics and art, and as one of the major technological advances that had occurred with the invention of printing press. However, the Renaissance had a greater impact on the whole world and not just art, education or technical progress. The Renaissance has become the revival, which encouraged the study of classical texts helping to change the people’s thoughts about them and the world, in general. It triggered a new flow of ideas and a promotion of these ideas. People have begun to question their faith in the Catholic Church. Those factors eventually have led to the Protestant Reformation.
The transition from the Renaissance to the Reformation contains the conditions that alter the usual image of the medieval world. The Renaissance has marked the secular trend and the Reformation characters. The Reformation and Renaissance complementing and continuing each other have shared a common goal that has overcome the medieval scholasticism. They both reflect the crisis of the medieval philosophy and ideology. As a result, they have together created the prerequisites for the establishment of the new philosophy and science. That is why, it is clear that the essence of the Reformation can be described as the development of ideas of the Renaissance period, which greatly influenced on the modern times.
The changes during the Renaissance time have done a major influence on the Reformation. According to the thesis written before, it may be concluded that the Reformation period is a result of the Renaissance epoch. It has also become the next phase for the Renaissance.