With the invention of the Printing Press and the beginning of the Northern Renaissance, a man name MArtin Luther first began to spread ideas and formed a new religion known as Protestantism. This eventually led to religious pluralism which led to a divide between religious groups all throughout Europe. Protestant and Catholic reforms changed religious institutions with conflicts amongst religious groups interlacing with economic and political disputes within countries. Although some established hierarchies accepted the Protestant Reformation for political benefits, ultimately, the Protestant reformation was a radical challenge to established hierarchies, because of their condemnation and denouncement by established hierarchies, and their destruction of Christian Religious symbols.
The Protestant Reformation brought radical new religious ideas which were heavily condemned by existing religious and governmental authorities. One example of such condemnation was from the Catholic emperor Charles V, in his address to his council (doc1), where he stated that Christianity has passed through the kingdom for years, and that he will do everything to support the beliefs of himself and his predecessors. Martin Luther’s opinions are wrong, and they go against all Christianity has stood for. He says he will no longer tolerate his nonsense and orders him to halt preaching immediately. The open condemnation of Martin Luther and his beliefs from the Catholic emperor and the timer period in which this document was written, clearly show that the majority of Europe was predominantly Catholic at that time, making Martin Luther’s beliefs radical. In addition Charles states that Martin Luther’s ideas go against what Christianity has stood for the past thousand years, demonstrating that these ideas were new and heavily opposed, supporting the assertion that the Protestant Reformation was clearly radical. Considering that the author was a Catholic Emperor, he would likely feel intense contempt towards new upstart religions that threatened his and the Church’s power. The author’s intention of this document was to reaffirm the original values of Christianity, as well as warn his council that he would condemn those who sided with Martin Luther as well. Charles’ condemnation of Martin Luther and his warnings against continuing to preach support the argument that the Protestant Reformation was indeed a radical movement, as it was condemned by the Catholic Emperor, a long established hierarchy. Another example where authority figures opposed Protestant beliefs was the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, where 3000 Huguenots were murdered in Paris, and in the days that followed, widespread attacks against Huguenots killed 20,000. This massacre was supported by Catherine De Medecis, the Queen consort of HEnry II of France. She supported the massacre due to the panic she was feeling, as the Protestants were obtaining more and more power. With support of the Massacre from the royal family, it demonstrates the Monarchies contempt for the Protestants, a condemnation from an established hierarchy, the royals of France.
The Protestants resorted to radical measures such as destruction of Church property, breaking images they believed held no religious value. A depiction of the Protestant destruction of Christian Icons in Zurich, Switzerland (doc2), shows Protestants tearing down icons of Christ and the Saints. This would have branded them as heretics, as the destruction of religious icons was heavily condemned and punishable. This demonstrates their radical behavior as they break icons with little qualms and use force to foster belief in their religions. Another example of the Protestant destruction of property was during the German Peasant War, where a preotestant chronicler stated, the peasants wished to free themselves and the Gospel through rebellion, but it was overturned with the new rebellion, where Luther Zwingli and others declared the Gospel as helical, and was shunned. This led to the destruction of life and property of those who supported such religions. Another example of radicalism was in the Netherlands in 1566, where a new wave of Calvanists went to churches to destroy all religious images and icons. This was known as the Calvinist iconoclastic Riot. This demonstrates the radical nature of the protestants, as they destroyed art Catholic art to affirm their beliefs. Their destruction of Christian religious symbols once again reaffirms their radical tendencies, risking being branded as heretics for their actions, and going against the Catholic Church, something that was a huge influential power at the time.