The Impact of Reformation on Renaissance in England

Question: Impact of Reformation on English Literature or Renaissance. Or, The Impact of Reformation on Renaissance in England


Protestant Reformation was a religious, social, economic, and political revolution that began when a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of his local church. Luther believed that the Catholic Church was corrupt and wanted to reform it. His 95 theses were originally a list of 95 allegations against the Catholic Church.

More than a religious revolution

Luther’s 95 thesis undermines the authority of the Catholic Church and establishes the intellectual framework for modernity as we know it. The running type printing press was invented about 80 years ago, allowing Luther’s 95 theses to spread like wildfire. Luther’s “radical” accusations against the church were read by ordinary people in towns and villages all over Germany. Many see the Protestant Reformation as merely a religious revolution. In reality, it was much more. Its beginning was of a religious nature, but the Reformation went beyond religion. It was truly a social, political, and economic revolution. It laid the intellectual framework on which the scientific revolution and enlightenment were built. Protestant reform leads to modern democracy, skepticism, capitalism, individualism, civil rights, and many of the modern values ​​we cherish today. Protestant reform has affected almost every academic discipline, especially the social sciences such as economics, philosophy, and history. Here we will analyze the impact of the Reformation Movement on English Literature or Renaissance.

Expansion of education

As it is universally known that literacy is a foundation for acquiring knowledge. Illiteracy was common throughout the Middle Ages, especially among the lower classes. The Catholic Church usually printed the Bible only in Latin, a language not known to the common people. The public could not read the Bible for themselves; They believed that what the pope or their priest had told them was true. Martin Luther, however, translated the Bible into German vernacular. Ordinary people could now read the Bible on their own. Increasingly, the Bible was interpreted in new ways. Protestant theology emphasized the importance of marriage and family, the value of hard work for the glory of God, and the value of education. Luther’s followers and later Protestant reformers in the 16th and 17th centuries emphasized literacy. The reforms had increased literacy throughout Europe, especially among the general population. Thus, a new era of the expansion of social development began.

Rising skepticism

Rising skepticism was one of the strong outputs of the Protestant Reformation. The public will no longer blindly hold on to what their priests have said; Literacy means that people can discover things for themselves … and not just “spiritual” things. People began to become increasingly interested in secular, academic subjects. One of those things was history and literature. Increasingly, people began to focus their attention on the history of ancient Greece and Rome. This trend was finally embodied in what we call the Renaissance, which took place between the 14th and 17th centuries and was a time of renewed interest in Greek and Roman art, history, and culture.

Humanism in the light of theism

Ironically, the reform led to greater secularism. Values ​​began to be placed not only on ‘spiritual content’ but also on earthly, mundane themes. For centuries, medieval universities emphasized Christian doctrine; Academic discipline is understood in the context of theology. However, as the Reformation progressed, history and other disciplines became burdened with their own interests. This development is closely linked to Renaissance humanism. Renaissance humanism emphasized classical Greek and Roman culture, the importance of being a well-rounded human being, and the supreme value of education.

Studying history and knowing history thus became a way of developing one’s humanity. Under the influence of humanism, the university system improved and history was understood in a more formal, academic sense. Humanists like Erasmus, a well-known philosopher, educator, and Catholic priest, are highly regarded for their views, not only on theology but also on educational subjects such as history and psychology.

Despite the rise of secularism, Christianity was still a strong force in academia. After the Reformation, many scholars still saw God’s hand in history. However, the concept of the “transcendental” of God actively orchestrated the flow of history, as if someone were playing a piece of chess on a board. In its place came more allowances for humanitarian organizations. During the Enlightenment of the 18th century, history in many circles was understood through the context of Deism. Theism is the belief that there is a God or a Supreme Being but that being does not supernaturally interfere with the physical universe.

The theologians argued that there is certainly the existence of God, but human history proceeds according to natural causes and effects without the direct intervention of God. Enlightened thinkers like Voltaire and even Thomas Jefferson have written extensively about the flow of history from a Deist perspective. So, the term humanism focused on the fact that theology is for human beings not for only God.


Protestant Reformation increased literacy throughout Europe and aroused new passions for education. As a result, people became more interested in history. We know this as the Renaissance, which literally means ‘rebirth’ and which was a period of renewed interest in Greek and Roman art, history, and culture. To put it differently, if there was no reformation, there was no renaissance or progress of English literature.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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