People of the Protestant Reformation

Pre-Reformation reformers

Meister Eckhart (1260–1327) a German mystic, theologian, and philosopher. Eckhart’s radical sermons spoke of man’s direct contact with the Divine. They were influential in shaping Martin Luther’s thinking.

John Wycliffe (1330–1384) translated the Bible into English. He was an early critic of the Papacy and clerical power. He emphasized scripture and Bible-centered Christianity. His followers were precursors to Martin Luther.

Protestant Reformation

Jan Hus (1369–1415) was a Czech theologian who spread the radical reforms of Wycliffe. Hus criticized many aspects of Church teachings. His teachings and martyrdom spread through Czech lands.

Desiderius Erasmus (1466–1536) was a Catholic priest and noted scholar. He preached religious tolerance. He wanted to see the Church reform. His ideas were influential in the Reformation and the development of Protestantism.

Principal figures in the Reformation

Martin Luther (1483–1546) sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church, which he felt had been corrupted and lost its original focus. The beginning of the Reformation is generally attributed to when Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg in 1517.

Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531) was a principal figure in the Reformation in Switzerland and Europe. Zwingli proposed many reforms to the Catholic church, based on the primacy of the Bible, influenced by the works of Erasmus.

Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) was archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. Cranmer was a key figure in the English Reformation, reducing the influence of the Holy See and writing an English Common Book of Prayer.

William Tyndale (1494–1536) was one of the first people to print the Bible in English, even when translating the Bible was an illegal act. His English Bible was adopted by Henry VIII after he broke from the Roman Catholic church.

John Calvin (1509–1564) was a French Protestant reformer. Calvin broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1530. He wrote influential Christian works supporting the Protestant Reformation. He also introduced a new liturgy and form of church government. His theological teachings formed the basis of the Reformed, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches.

Michael Servetus (1509–1553) was a Renaissance humanist and influential figure in the Reformation. He developed a theology of non-trinitarian Christianity. Servetus’ views were condemned by both Catholics and Protestants alike.

English Reformation

Henry VIII (1491–1547) King Henry VIII split the Church of England from Rome, leading to the rise of Protestantism in England. He dissolved the monasteries and reduced the power of the church.

Anne Boleyn (1501–1536), second wife of Henry VIII, was influential in forcing Henry VIII to establish the Church of England. She was crowned Queen in 1533, but after failing to produce a male heir, Boleyn was executed in 1536.

Queen Elizabeth I (1533–1603) reverted England back to Protestantism after the brief reign of her Catholic sister, Mary. Queen Elizabeth I avoided religious strife. She led her country to a famous defeat of the (Catholic) Spanish Armada.

Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540) was a valued aide to King Henry VIII. Cromwell pushed Henry to break with Rome and establish the Church of England. Cromwell also led the dissolution of the monasteries and the attack on the old religious traditions of the Catholic faith.

Other influential figures in the Reformation period

Johannes Gutenberg (1400–1468) was the inventor of movable type printing in Europe. This printing revolution was critical in enabling the spread of the printed works of the Protestant Reformation.

Source: People of the Protestant Reformation
Copyright Tejvan Pettinger

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