Reformation Historical Head Directions

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Mr. Trzepinska

World Cultures Enriched

Reformation Historical Head

Directions: Read the following biographies of early reformers. On the next page 3 reasons why each man wanted to reform the church. Under each head complete the sentences to express what each person would say about the Reformation

John Wycliffe (About 1330–1384)  John Wycliffe (WIH-cliff) was a scholar from England. Wycliffe challenged the Church’s right to money that it demanded from England. When the Great Schism began, he publicly questioned the pope’s authority. He also criticized indulgences and immoral behavior on the part of the clergy.

During the Middle Ages, Church officials tried to control how the Bible was interpreted. Wycliffe believed that the Bible, not the Church, was the supreme source of religious authority. Against Church tradition, he had the Bible translated from Latin into English so that common people could read it.

The pope accused Wycliffe of heresy, or opinions that contradict official doctrine. Wycliffe’s followers were persecuted, and some of them were burned to death as heretics, or people who behave against official teachings. After his death, the Church had Wycliffe’s writings burned, too. Despite the Church’s opposition, however, Wycliffe’s ideas had wide influence.

Jan Hus (About 1370–1415)  Jan Hus (huhs) was a priest in Bohemia, which today is in the Czech Republic. He read Wycliffe’s writings and agreed with many of his ideas. Hus criticized the vast wealth of the Church and spoke out against the pope’s authority. The true head of the Church, he said, was Jesus Christ.

Hus wanted to purify the Church and return it to the people. He called for an end to corruption among the clergy. He wanted both the Bible and the mass to be offered in the common language of the people instead of in Latin. In 1414, Hus was arrested and charged with heresy. In July 1415, he was burned at the stake.

Like Wycliffe, Hus had a major influence on future reformers. Martin Luther would later say that he and his supporters were “all Hussites without knowing it.”

Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536)  Desiderius Erasmus was a humanist from Holland. A priest and devoted Catholic, he was one of the most outspoken figures in the call for reform.

In 1509, Erasmus published a book called The Praise of Folly. (Folly means “foolishness.”) The book was a sharply worded satire of society, including abuses by clergy and Church leaders. Erasmus argued for a return to simple Christian goodness.

Erasmus wanted to reform the Church from within. He angrily denied that he was a Protestant who wanted to break away from the Catholic Church. Yet perhaps more than any other individual, he helped to prepare Europe for the Reformation. His attacks on corruption in the Church contributed to many people’s desire to leave Catholicism. For this reason, it is often said that “Erasmus laid the egg, and Luther hatched it.”

John Wycliffe Jan Hus

Reasons for Reform

John Wycliffe

Jan Hus

Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus

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