Europe 1300 - 1800

Reformation and Counter-Reformation

How do you get to heaven? Does religious art lead to idolatry?
The Reformation asked these and other good questions.

1517 and after

videos + essays

We're adding new content all the time!

The Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation

From baptism to last rites, one Church organized the lives of most Western Europeans—until the events of 1517.

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 1 of 4): Setting the stage
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 1 of 4): Setting the stage

Could you buy your way out of purgatory? Martin Luther said no, believing in faith alone.

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 2 of 4): Martin Luther
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 2 of 4): Martin Luther

After the Diet of Worms, Luther escaped to a castle and translated the Bible into German.

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 3 of 4): Varieties of Protestantism
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 3 of 4): Varieties of Protestantism

Luther’s ideas quickly spread across Europe, inspiring new interpretations of the Bible—and new conflicts.

Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 4 of 4): The Counter-Reformation
Introduction to the Protestant Reformation (part 4 of 4): The Counter-Reformation

Protestants largely rejected the visual culture of Catholicism, going so far as to whitewash and destroy its art.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, <em>Law and Gospel (Law and Grace)</em>
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Law and Gospel (Law and Grace)

How did heaven get to be so controversial? This painting was a defining image of the Protestant Reformation.

Selected Contributors | Reformation and Counter-Reformation