Sure September 11, 2001 was a tumultuous day in which over 3,000 people lost their lives and lead to 2 wars but it has not changed the world as significantly as a number of other days have.
October 31, 1517 – The priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.
When it comes to rivalries there are some big ones Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier but nothing comes close to the big daddy of them all Catholic vs. Protestant.
It was Luther who kicked off the split between the Catholics and Protestants with his opinions. Perhaps he didn’t realise the impact his statement would have but A few centuries have passed since Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses but there is no love lost between the two Christian ideologies.
Luther was a straight shooter, a native German who became a monk at the age of twenty-two and was then appointed as professor of theology in the University of Wittenberg. A popular teacher and preacher, he was fearless in stating his opinions. He openly questioned the sale of indulgences in 1517 by several agents of Pope Leo X, for collecting money for completing the construction of St. Peter’s Church at Rome.
Wars between Catholics and Protestants in Europe were on an unimaginable scale, comparable to parts of the crusades, in certain areas of Europe killing up to a third of the population (sometimes more deadly than the Black Plague), and many people believed that Catholic and Protestant countries would never be at peace with one another.
If you think that the war in Afghanistan is starting to drag, its only an entrée compared to The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history with casualties totaling over 8,000,000.
A major impact of the Thirty Years’ War was the extensive destruction of entire regions, denuded by the foraging armies (bellum se ipsum alet). Episodes of famine and disease significantly decreased the populace of the German states,Bohemia, the Low Countries and Italy, while bankrupting most of the combatant powers.
Owing to the Reformation, the hands of the rulers were strengthened against the Church. Thus it was a boon to rulers. In the name of the Reformation, Henry VIII deprived the Pope of any powers over the English church. The German princes were happy to be free from the control of the Pope. The kings of Europe could now build their countries according to the pattern of their choice. The spirit of nationalism was given a fresh impetus by the Reformation.
New ideas arose in the economic field where there were healthy changes. People were free from medieval ideas and the tyranny of the Orthodox Church. Thus, they could pursue certain economic activities such as money lending, which was criticized in the past. Owing to the Reformation old ideas were discarded and the moneylender was given a status in society.
By annihilating the economic power of the medieval Church, the Reformation paved the way for the rise of capitalism.
Though the Reformation was religious in nature, it had far-reaching effects in all fields. Thus it helped in the shaping of the modern world, along with other movements.
The Protestan Revolution was the religious struggle during the 16th and 17th century which began as an effort to reform the Catholic Church and ended with the splintering of the Western Christendom into the Catholic and Protestant churches. Combined with the Renaissance which proceeded it, the reformation marked the end of the Medieval world and the beginning of a modern world view. The French Revolution which followed the Reformation in the 18th century marked the beginning of our modern age.
And we haven’t even mentioned the whole Northern Ireland situation!