5 Introduction

Week 3: The Counter-Reformation


The Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Church’s declining religious and political power led to a period of great intellectual fervor across Europe in the 1600s and 1700s. Known as the Enlightenment, this period witnessed the development of intellectual movements promoting reason, democracy, political freedom, and rational inquiry.Enlightenment thinkers questioned civil authorities and developed new ideas about the relationship between a nation’s governments and its people.These ideas gave rise to a period of political revolutions intended to overthrow monarchical rule and to install democratically elected governments in the late 1700s. The French Revolution in 1789 followed the American Revolution in 1776 and encouraged other revolutions throughout the Americas and parts of Europe.

The Three Most Catholic Nations in Europe at The Time Were:

  • the Holy Roman Empire,
  • Spain, and
  • France.

Important Leaders of The Counter-Reformation Included:

  • Paul III, the pope that called together the Council of Trent
  • Charles V Hapsburg, leader of Austria and the most vigorous defender of the Catholic Church at the time in Europe
  • Philip II Hapsburg, leader of Spain and Catholic son of Charles V; he married Mary Tudor of England
  • “Bloody” Mary Tudor, Catholic daughter of Henry VIII Tudor, she married Philip II
  • Catherine de Medici of Florence, regent of France
  • Ferdinand II

Prominent Protestant Opponents of The Counter-Reformation Included:

  • Elizabeth Tudor, the leader of England and half-sister of Mary Tudor
  • William of Orange, the leader of the Netherlands
  • Protestant Princes in the Holy Roman Empire and France
  • Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Western Civilization II Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book