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Reformations Timelines

Awakening of Liberalism

Reformation [web] Timelines

history pages, Northern European Renaissance

NR 04 History pages, Northern Renaissance


Copyright © 2008  Michael Johnathan McDonald

November 2008


Reformations overlaps and run parallel in historical timelines. 


Pre-Reformation: Separation of Church & State: 14th Century

Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement.

Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church's response to the Protestants (Paul III to Westphalia)

English Reformation, series of events in sixteenth-century England by which the church in England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church

Radical Reformation, an Anabaptist movement concurrent with the Protestant Reformation

Scottish Reformation, 1560, Presbyterians

Swiss Reformation, 1520s, Radical Reformations


Reformations? What are they?

Reformation is loosely regarded as close examination of the Bible to understand and shape current political spheres. We now speak of reformations in the plural and connect them nominally to western civilization.  While the Reformation had political-demographic outcomes, its underlying process was a reestablishment by interpretation and translation of the Old and New Testaments, as well as redefining the Patristic Fathers, and redefining Greek and Roman philosophers. By individuals translating and interpreting what the Bible had said, it created factionalism by local and regional rulers attaching themselves and their civic charges to these independent movements and directionally moving away from the Medieval ‘loosely’ monolithic religious structure, which then emerged secular nationalism(s) (described at the Treaty of Westphalia) based upon patriotism and freedom of speech from various interpretations of these sacred scriptures. These Reformations’ underlying causes were inward revelations while they demonstrated secular and surface economic effects. The Reformations are still felt today in modern world cultures and these pages are for helping us understand how we got here. 


Salvation History tended to bind the secular European authority to the Catholic Church, as a central authority.


John Wycliffe


John Wycliffe (mid-1320s – 31 December 1384), a 14th century early critic of salvation history of the Catholic Church, an English  theologian, founder of the Lollard movement, helped translate along with others enthusiasts the Latin Vulgate Bible into a vernacular of English in the year 1382 ( now known as the Wycliffe Bible). It was finally completed in three editions 1384, 1388 and 1395. Yet the movable type printing presses had not been invented yet, and one would have to wait until the late fifteenth century until dissemination of religious reformulations on the bible does appear. However, Wycliffe was an inspiration upon Martin Luther’s psyche and had alerted some the Catholic Church members to take up their own projects when they had a chance. Wycliffe certainly is viewed as a pre-reformation figure.


Catholics Reforming Bible Before Martin Luther

Polyglot, Spanish Biblical Humanism, Catholic Church




(1459-’79) Spanish Biblical Humanism (1459-79): (not a revival of pagan Roman and Greek texts, but of the Biblical texts. Polyglot Bible: Syriac, Hebrew, Greek and Latin text (written to compare the different translations). Cardinal Cisneros was the archbishop of Toledo, a place that had an enormous diocese (Toledo was the seat of the archbishop) and a major seat of Catholic Medieval Church. He founded the University of Alcalà, and campaigned to fill its professorships with the brightest of European humanists. Cisneros secures Antonia Nebrija (1444-1522), who was educated at the Spanish College of Balonga, yet was also an indigenous, Spanish, humanist.  Nebrija in 1470 also became a professor at the University of Salamanca. Cisneros is remembered for his prize project called the Polyglot Bible, and it was Nebrija who spearheaded the efforts. The importance was the original Bible, which was in Hebrew, then copied into Greek, and then translated poorly into Medieval Latin presed the Church into a scholarly investigation and a new edition. So the Vulgate Bible was the traditional Papacy bible, called the Vulgate (a Latin bible). In order to understand the Bible, more authoritative commentary was needed. The Polyglot bible project was such an attempt. Nebrija studies Livy and Cicerone Latin to achieve a Classical Latin aptitude -- better than anyone ever in that time in Spain. These seminal grammar books he had written for Spanish students described the significant figure of 5% of the entire Spanish population that will attain a university degree by the late fifteenth century. By 1487, there are 25 professors and 7,000 students at Salamanca University in the 1480s. In his second edition, a bi-lingual effort he dedicates it to Isabella. He makes the connection between language and Empire... ‘you are rising Isabella, and how the Romans had understood that  Language was one of the major tools of Empire.’  The Catholic Monarchs are also humanists and support humanists. Cisneros  had many humanists working on this bible project. Why is this project important to the reformation? Because it illustrates the Catholic Church was working to reform the Bible with a scholarly edition prior to Luther’s attacks with his 95 theses. The Polyglot Bible had six volumes, and it was a big project.




1517: Indulgences, Wittenburg Castle Door, 95 Theses, Luther ( begin Protestant Reformation Proper, ideas now openly discussed)

1520 ( Three works, critical attacks on Roman Church) Babylone Captivity (Pope has no power)

1523: Treaties on Secular Authority ( Luther) about German Princes role in life.



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