The Protestant Reformation: Spreading and Dividing Heading into the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church was undoubtedly the dominating religious power Europe.But this dominance throughout Europe would not extend to the next one hundred years.This was the time before the great Protestant Reformation begun by theologian Martin Luther that was to challenge the Catholic Church not only in its practices, hierarchy, and Biblical interpretation, but also maybe most importantly, challenge its widespread following in Europe.

Historian Hans Hillerbrand, in his book The Protestant Reformation, comments that by the end of the sixteenth century "one fact was beyond dispute: Western Christendom was tragically divided…into no less than five religious factions" (Introduction, xviii).How this transformation came to be is the subject of much debate and historical interpretation.It is argued here that the rapid spread of the rebellion towards the Catholic Church known as Protestantism can be attributed to four main tenets: pre-e! xisting displeasures with the Catholic Church, the accepting and all class incorporation of the ideologies of the Protestant Reformation, effective propaganda used by Luther and other reformers, and powerful factions that developed from the Reformation that led their respective nations away from the Catholic Church and towards other religions.

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Even before the groundbreaking work of Martin Luther, there was an overriding displeasure with several facets of the Catholic Church.These widespread doubts on Catholicism at the time served as the perfect background for the soon to come Reformation. Carl Koch, in an excerpt from his book A Popular History of the Catholic Church, comments on this tense situation of the beginning of the 1500s: "at the start of the 1500s, the church and the political situation were powder kegs waiting to explode; the forces of nationalism were in great tension with ..