10.4 Reformation Ideas Spread

Henry III, the Catholic king of France, was deeply disturbed by the Calvinist reformers in Geneva. “It would have been a good thing,” he wrote, “if the city of Geneva were long ago reduced to ashes, because of the evil doctrine which has been sown from that city throughout Christendom.”

Painting of a burly bearded man in gilded tunic and furred robe, with dagger and decorated cap.

This portrait of King Henry VIII of England was painted by the famous court artist, Hans Holbein. Henry broke with the Catholic Church over differences concerning his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.


  • Describe the new ideas that Protestant sects embraced.
  • Understand why England formed a new church.
  • Analyze how the Catholic Church reformed itself.
  • Explain why many groups faced persecution during the Reformation.
  • Explain the impact of the Reformation.

Key Terms

  • sect
  • Henry VIII
  • Mary Tudor
  • Thomas Cranmer
  • Elizabeth
  • canonize
  • compromise
  • Council of Trent
  • Ignatius of Loyola
  • St. Teresa of Avila
  • ghetto

An Explosion of Protestant Sects

Henry was not alone in his anger. Across Europe, Catholic monarchs and the Catholic Church fought back against the Protestant challenge. They also took steps to reform the Church and to restore its spiritual leadership in the Christian world.

As the Reformation continued, hundreds of new Protestant sects, or religious groups, sprang up. Some sects developed their own versions of the teachings of Luther or Calvin, or followed the teachings of another Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli. Others developed ideas that were increasingly radical.

Radical Reformers

A number of groups, for example, rejected the practice of infant baptism. Infants, they argued, are too young to understand what it means to accept the Christian faith. Only adults, they felt, should receive the sacrament of baptism. Because of this belief, they became known as Anabaptists.

Most Anabaptists, however, were peaceful. In an age of religious intolerance, they called for religious toleration. They also put forward the idea of the separation of church and state. Despite harsh persecution for their threat to the traditional order, these groups influenced Protestant thinking in many countries. Today, the Baptists, Mennonites, and Amish all trace their religious ancestry to the Anabaptists.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments