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The Reformation is the fancy name of an event in 1517 when an Augustinian monk in the Holy Roman Empire pinned up a speech about peace, harmony and having a dream. An hour later he came back and replaced it with another message that had 95 arrow points attacking the Papacy, selling fake passports for entry to heaven and why there was a Jewish conspiracy to prevent him from getting a job teaching Real Tennis to the local nuns. The man's name was Martin Luther and he is credited to starting a religious/political/social/kill joy era known as 'The Reformation'.
Luther felt he had 'missed' the Renaissance and never got to meet the right people. He blamed everyone including Pope Leo X for this. When after a big party at the Vatican saw old St.Peter's smashed up by excitable priests, Pope Leo X organised a Europe-wide whip round to replace it with a new church. Luther suggested a caravan would do as he was sure the End of the World was going to happen. So when in his local town of Wittenberg in Saxony Papal fund raisers came round with a golden begging bowl, the German bruiser rebelled.
Others in Germany and Switzerland agreed with Luther and demanded a wholesale purge of the Catholic Church. Another reformer Ulrich Zwingli went further and encouraged his followers to pull down statues. In Rome Pope Leo said everyone in Germany was a heavy drinker and that Luther was an alcoholic. So anyone listening to him were hearing the ravings and rantings of a drunk you find walking in the street. Luther sent a bottle of piss to Leo in reply.
edit Diet of Worms
The reformers or 'Protestants' asked to me Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at a local hotel near the Rhine. The emperor wanted to hear what they were complaining about but the Protestants refused to eat anything on the supplied buffet. One preacher said he 'would rather eat worms' than any food that had been prepared by Catholics. This got the meeting its name and marked the first split between the 'Free Christians' and the 'Rome Christians'. Emperor Charles V offered Luther and others a free passage to Rome to say all this in front of Pope Leo but the protestant leaders were wary of going there in case they stayed for a impromptu heretic pot roast.
Finally Luther agreed to go, under the protection of his friend the Duke of Saxony. First chaining himself to his friend and then, for good measure the emperor too, Luther laid out the Protestant demands:-
- Eating and drinking Jesus is bad for your health
- Monks and nuns are time wasters.
- I have a book coming out in German, titled "Der Deutsch Bible". Signed copies available after the meeting.
The gathered bishops urged Charles V to have Luther and other 'protestants' arrested and have their testicles crushed but Luther slipped out through a window and said he would never go again to such a meeting.
edit Let's do the Münster Mash
Luther's general dismissal of the Pope's authority led to a rebellion in the German city of Munster. Three of Luther's followers gained control of the city from the local bishop and proclaimed they were going to create the first Protestant City. Their leaders believed that if the right conditions were created, Jesus would come down from heaven and led a rebellion. But first everyone needed a holy bath and in the spirit of John the Baptist, the leaders jumped naked into a fountain and declared they were now saved. Everyone who refused to follow was a heretic and chased from the city.
edit Reformation elsewhere
The spread of Catholic bashing now spread out to other countries. In Denmark and Sweden frozen meatballs were thrown at Papal representatives. In Scotland, a football club was created especially to sing anti-Catholic songs whilst the English preferred to exclude all Catholics from Christmas.
Other countries couldn't make their minds up. The French quarreled with each other and punched themselves as a serious political force for 40 years from 1558-1598. The Protestants there were called the Hueys as everytime the Catholics thought about them, they had to stick their heads down the lavatory pan. So bad was the situation that the charlatan-astrologer Nabisco Nostrodamus spent a life on cornflakes to prevent being served poisoned porridge by Queen Catherine de Medici.
In Germany there was one last great religious war in the 17th century but after 1648 everyone decided that fighting which way to hold a Communion cup was very silly. They instead waited to have their knowledge base widened. This was provided by Sir Isaac Newton who proved that Gravity was religiously neutral.