History Summarized: Pope Fights 2 — The Reformation

This video is brought to you by audible. Stick around to the end to hear more! Heh? Get it? Cuz, you just…[under his breath] play the damn video… We we use the term ‘Christianity’, it’s tempting to think of one, cohesive, religious body working together to bring the world into a holy brotherhood of man. But, the reality is sometimes more like a Voltron of different denominations begrudgingly joined together, vaguely attempting to kick at its own shins and punch itself in the face. You’ve got the Eastern Orthodox Church holding over from the Byzantine Empire, the Catholic Church continuing the tradition of St. Peter, but somewhere between the Crusades and Now, we also got Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, who are like Anglicans but *not* English, and– [frustrated groan] Guys, you’re killing me here. So, to figure out how we got from Point A through Point C through P-4.5 I’ll spin you a yarn of the 1500-1600s, the centuries of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. So get ready to do some history on tonight’s [airhorns] POPE FIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHTS [airhorns] Our first event pits the Vatican against Literally Itself, as corruption dominated the Church at the turn of the 16th century. The Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, had sullied the Papacy with what I can only describe as an Orgy of Orgies, and it didn’t help that he also sent his manic son Cesare to try and conquer Italy for the Papal States, the Pope’s territorial holdings around Rome. In 1506, Pope Julius II began work on the new Basilica of St. Peter, as well as the fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, both funded largely by the sale of indulgences. These bad boys were the ‘Get Out Of Purgatory Free’ cards Church officials sold for upwards of half a years wages, essentially buying your way into Heaven. His successor, Leo X, wasn’t exactly a beacon of integrity either so the Church of the early 1500s is really not looking its best. If I had to chalk it up, I’d say… Catholic Church – 0, Lessons Learned From The Last Pope Fights… Eh, Also 0. Now, even before this, *centuries* of faithful Christian had been voicing their concerns about the way the Church works, including our boy Dante. Addressing persistent issues of divine accessibility and institutional corruption. Fast-forward to 1517 and a German monk named Martin Luther posted a Twitter rant the old-fashioned way: by nailing it to the door of the local church. Little did he know that things would escalate *inconceivably* quickly from this point on. What started with, “Hey, I’m pretty sure that the sale of indulgences is *total* bullcrap.” became, “Only our faith can save us.” which then became, “And the Church *can’t* save you.” and then that became, “Oh, by the way, the Pope *isn’t* infallible, and in fact, they and the entire clergy make mistakes all the time.” and finally became, “You know what?” “No, the priesthood is meaningless! Nobody is any more holy than anybody else!” It’s like every time Martin Luther sits down he gets another idea, takes a shot, runs back up to the microphone, and shouts, “And *another* thing!” And honestly, in 1517, you can’t really blame him. What started with the 95 Theses as a call to stop the sale of indulgences very quickly transformed into him calling for a complete reconstruction of the Church and its priorities. So for our next fight, we pit 1500 years of tradition and the most powerful bureaucracy in European history against one (1) hat boi. When Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor of Germany and Spain, called for Martin Luther to make his case in the hopes of humilating him, he doubled down on all of his reformist claims. A bold move! After that, the madman tripled down, hiding away in a castle to work on a fully German translation of the Bible which he then distributed for cheap through the newfangled printing press this allowed thousands of ordinary people to bypass the gatekeeping of priests and get in with the O.G. Now as far as opening up religion to the German masses goes, this was a runaway success. Except it didn’t quite have the desired effect overall. Far from getting the Church in Rome to change its ways they seemed to be stubbornly staying their course, and the Bible’s new readers developed wildly different headcanons about the road to divine salvation. Rather than demanding reform in a unified voice, these splintered out into dozens of directions each accusing the others of being obviously entirely wrong Guess times don’t really change all that much.` But also this really shouldn’t have been a surprise. It’s because of the radical democratization of knowledge that everyone was free to make their own interpretation so the consistent theme of “spirituality is up to you” was essentially destined to diverge on the details. For instance, Germany saw a 300,000-strong peasant revolt in 1525, arguing along Luther’s ideas but instead they demanded political freedom from serfdom, storming several churches in the process. Luther thought that this was distinctly uncool as his beef was *spiritual*, not *political* but we’re dealing with Renaissance Europe here, so separating those two is like telling an alcoholic priest to stop hogging the Blood of Christ. In other…smashy business…young Protestants in Germany and Switzerland Took to heart what the Bible said about “avoiding graven images”, so they dashed the artwork and whitewashed local churches to avoid any distractions between people and God. In the following centuries, Protestant art became increasingly secular with landscapes, portraits, still life, and historical paintings taking over from the highly religious art of the Renaissance that they saw as borderline blasphemous to depict. A major exception is the work of Dutch painters like Rembrandt, who covered religious topics but through a strictly historical lens. Instead of paintings, for the most part Protestants were waging their ideological campaigns through books. [scoffs jockishly] Like a buncha NEEEEEERDS! While Pope Leo wrote off this ‘Martin Luther’ guy as a local problem it would swiftly become clear that the Reformation was much bigger than one hammer-happy German priest. It’s one thing when some random monk says “Screw the Church. I’ll do it myself”, but what about when a *king* says it? In 1525, Albert founded the Duchy of Prussia as the first explicitly Protestant state which came with the added benefit of “you get to take the Church’s stuff and land and also not pay any taxes to Rome”. It’s a pretty good deal, all things considered. In England, Henry VIII was the second king to break with Catholicism founding the Anglican Church so that he could divorce his wife… ssssSSSSssssSss [plural] Lots of them… While would-be kings were seeing dollar signs everywhere from the land, money, and power, and heirs they could yoink by ditching Catholicism we’ve also got to consider the millions of people across Europe who deeply believed that they, for pretty much the first time in history, were able to literally take their faith into their own hands by reading the Bible. That’s *huge*! Red: Dude, you’re getting too analytical. Blue: What? Red: We need more memes. Right-o. Score at the end of round two, is Catholics – One Corrupt Church Protestants… oof Yikes, and that’s the *simplified* graph. Anyway, it’s been a hot minute. How about we sack Rome again? [Children Cheer] Round 3 today, we have the Papal States pleasantly minding their own business and coming down the peninsula to ruin their century are the Germans! Again… No, again… Well, yes, but that one comes later. Geez, Germany, tell us how you really feel. Anyway, after winning a battle with France, the armies of Charles V went rogue and marched into Rome to sack the city. Now the fun part of this is that Italy, France, and Germany were all ruled by Catholics so this conflict makes zero sense because Nonsense is the M.O. of European history. only getting back on its feet for a full Baroque revival in the later 1600-1700s. That makes the score… Ow. One Really Big Oof But just because Rome got trashed, doesn’t mean that Catholicism was twiddling its thumbs for two centuries. The Church overall realized that it needed a makeover, and at the Council of Trent 1545-1563 they did three important things. (1) They affirmed Catholic doctrine on the sources of divine authority and salvation. (2) They reformed church practices to better educate the priests with seminaries and the Jesuit Order. (3) And they asserted the focus of Catholicism on personal spirituality Now, putting aside differences in whether or not the bread and wine is really the body and blood of Christ This looks strikingly familiar to the goals of Protestantism: ‘Educate the faithful to deepen their connection with God.’ The means for this ‘Counter-Reformation’, however, were quintessentially Catholic. Since a lot of people couldn’t read that well, the Church doubled down on art. It was essentially religious propaganda, yes, but damn if it isn’t some of the best art around. Painting, sculpture, even architecture are dynamic, intense and vivid, another massive jump in quality and photorealism after the Renaissance. The most striking aspects to me is the way that weight and movement capture deep emotions, I know what I’m about. I mean, I like Baroque, okay? I know what I’m about. But Big Picture, it’s neat how asymmetrical the conflict was. Protestant literary culture was revolutionary, and Catholics pulled out all the stops for Art. Bringing a knife to a gunfight is a done deal, but bringing a book to a painting fight is a much more intriguing matchup. At the end of this round, it’s Books – Good Art – Good More culture is good. Everybody wins! Anyway, now let’s talk about people losing really really badly and also dying. Fun! Part of the problem with talking about the Reformation and Counter-Reformation is that I could be here literally all day dishing on 200 years of the history of all of Europe. That stuff is dense! So, uh… I’m skipping all of it. Here’s a quick list of some of the wars happening. Wow, that sure is a lot of stabbing. I’m skipping all of it. What matters for our purposes is that, in addition to territorial ambitions, nations now had ideological/religious grounds for allying with, or hating, each other. Cool! Moving on. In 1555, the Peace of Augsburg granted individual states in the Holy Roman Empire the right to choose Catholicism or Protestantism. Granted, it was *Princes* who made that choice rather than the subjects, but it’s still better than nothing. However, things were not all fun and tolerance. France in 1572 was still Catholic but a minority of Protestant Huguenots had grown to about one in six Frenchmen. Catholics tried to assassinate a prominent Huguenot in Paris but whiffed it, so the monarchy finished the job. have fun in Circle Seven. so they slaughtered thousands of Huguenots. Real Christ-like, guys, have fun in Circle Seven. Next up is a war that started over religion and ended because nobody likes the Hapsburgs. They’re spread all across Europe and they made drawing this map exceptionally annoying. I *would* tell the Habsburgs to go screw themselves, but they beat me to the punch. In 1618, their dominions in Spain, Naples, and Austria got into a tiff with the Protestant parts of Germany as well as the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and this became the Thirty Years War. It started, settled down when the Catholic Habsburgs won a battle and started back up again when Protestant Sweden jumped in for Round 2 and Catholic France did a heckin’ bamboozle by joining in *against* the Hapsburgs, fearing their impending hegemony over Europe if they won, Catholic allegiances notwithstanding. The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which allowed minority communities of Protestants and Catholics across Europe to practice their own worship at home without the threat of interference. This is where you can see people realizing, “Hey, look, guys, we can all keep killing each other or we can calm down and deal with this like adults.” And it’s no surprise that this culture of tolerance would very quickly produce the Enlightenment. And our final score for tonight’s Pope Fight(TM) is… Wars – Too Many I don’t like it. Cool Art – A lot, actually, that one turned out pretty good And finally, Object Lessons In How You Can’t Stab Your Way Out Of A Disagreement And Cultural Triumphs Like the Enlightenment Are Only Possible When You Recognize That The Person On The Other Side Of An Argument Is Also A Human Being With Thoughts And Feelings – ONE But that’s a very important ‘One’! In conclusion, Martin Luther saw a church that needed reform badly, beyond indulgences, people from all over Church history saw deep issues with the way things operated and wanted to change it. It should be no surprise that Luther’s theological whirlwind had an impact far outside of the Protestant world he inadvertently created. In the end, yeah, there may be a few too many denominations to keep track of but Luther’s primary goals were fulfilled. The Catholic Church reformed, and now nearly everybody who wants it, regardless of denomination, has direct access to the Bible. Self-reflection can be a difficult process but confronting our failures makes us all better off. Red: Dude, the memes. Blue: Right! Uhhhhh… Tada! Martin Luther recognized the power of books, so he would be thrilled to know that nowadays you can listen to them from literally anywhere with today’s sponsor, audible. With an astoundingly huge catalog of audio books to choose from Audible is the world’s leader in cutting out the middleman between an author’s ideas and your brain It’s no secret that Red and I do a lot of research on this channel I admit, I talk a little slow sometimes food or playing video games. And of course, I’ve got to mention my absolute favorite feature: Speed Control I know some of you listen to me on 1.25 speed I admit, I talk a little slow sometimes [mega slow lol] But hey, audible lets you give your tracks a little zoom zoom If you’re one of those gottagofast types. Audible members who sign up get a credit for any audio book completely free every month as well as additional discounts in the store. If you want to dig deeper into the Reformation, consider checking out this extremely comprehensive audio book for free because audible is offering all of you a 30 day trial and one free audio book along with two free audible originals to get you started if you sign up with our link on audible.com/overlysarcastic or text OVERLYSARCASTIC to 500 500. if you do, you’ll be supporting the channel and getting a good audio book in the process. Again, go to audible.com/overlysarcastic and the Ghost of Martin Luther will be very proud of you!
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PiyOojCIDQ

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