Men of the Protestant Reformation

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Joshua J. Mark
published on 21 February 2024

The men who initiated and advanced the vision of the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648) did not set out, at first, to challenge the authority of the Catholic Church but only to correct what they saw as errors. In doing so, they launched a movement that would change how Christianity was understood and help shape the modern world.

This collection includes only a small sampling of the many men who advanced, or opposed, what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation. Many others are omitted, including Johannes Gutenberg (l.c. 1398-1468) who, though technically not a part of the Reformation, allowed for its success through his invention of the printing press. The correlation between the press and the movement is explored in the article The Printing Press & the Protestant Reformation.

So-called proto-Reformers John Wycliffe (l. 1330-1384) and Jan Hus (l.c. 1369-1415) are also omitted as the collection focuses only on a few of the men active between 1517-1648. The Catholic Counter-Reformation (1545-c.1700) is represented by Johann Eck (l. 1486-1543) who argued for the unified vision of the Church.

For the role of women in the Reformation, see our collection here.


Questions & Answers

Who started the Protestant Reformation?

The Protestant Reformation was started by the German monk Martin Luther in 1517.

How did the Church respond to the Reformation?

The Church tried to suppress the teachings of Reformers like Martin Luther but this was not possible owing to the printing press which allowed for widespread dissemination of ideas.

Why is Johann Eck important?

Johann Eck is important as an early voice of the Counter-Revolution. He argued against the Reformation, claiming that, if everyone could determine the truth of the Bible for themselves, then there was no truth, only opinion.

Who are the three greatest men of the Protestant Reformation?

The three men usually regarded as the greatest of the Protestant Reformation are Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Calvin.
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About the Author

Joshua J. Mark
Joshua J. Mark is World History Encyclopedia's co-founder and Content Director. He was previously a professor at Marist College (NY) where he taught history, philosophy, literature, and writing. He has traveled extensively and lived in Greece and Germany.

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