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The discovery of America, the new ideas of Copernicus, and especially the expansion of information through the printing press, which exposed new horizons of knowledge not previously available.

Politically, the Empire was beset by an awareness of ethnic and national sentiments. The consequence was that the aggressive demands of the new groups could not be satisfied by the representatives of the German lands: the princes and the nobles. The Reformation provided a new theology of political authority and of the relationship between Christian man and authority. Regarding the social context, the feudal system was being threatened by the growth of a new class, the bourgeoisie, interested in trade and exchange. The small towns were becoming urban centers, and there was a new feeling of independence from the feudal lords. The exploited peasants were ready to rebel, and they did so during the Reformation.

The Reformation of Luther takes place in a period characterized by the transition from feudalism to capitalism, with great social alterations, resistance of the injured to the new situation, difficult changes of mentality, and discontent of the peasantry in a disproportionately rural Europe. While Luther helped shape and direct many of the new trends, much of what happened subsequently fell outside of his direction, intention, and dominance.

Before Luther, many Christians considered that the Church of Rome had lost its spiritual traditions and that it was overly concerned with temporal power. The rise in literacy and book printing in the late 15th century caused many Christians to rediscover ancient Christians by comparing them unfavorably to the Roman Catholic Church, and their methods of financing the various constructions in which it was engaged were widely criticized. These methods included indulgences (payments for the remission that the Church makes of penalties due for sins), the sale of relics, the sale of masses for the dead, spiritual pilgrimages, and the achievement of “merits” by donations. The reformers, based on their interpretation of the Bible, show a position of the Christian in the world different from the Catholic one, from which a vision of political authority emerges with important future consequences such as its reinforcement, without abandoning the theological explanation that authority derived its power directly from God.

The Catholic Reformation or Counter-Reformation was the response to Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, which had weakened the Church. It denotes the period of Catholic revival from the pontificate of Pope Pius IV in 1560 to the end of the Thirty Years War, in 1648.

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