Assess the significance of the role of individuals in the development of reformation, protest and rebellion, in Late Medieval Europe.
Conversely, it can also be implied that the influence of such individuals is less important than certain other factors.
This includes the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440, which resulted in the rapid spread of humanist ideas throughout the state. Bibles could now be freely distributed, meaning they were no longer owned only by the Church. Combined with the founding of many universities, it was clear that the educational rate of Germany was on the rise. This meant that an increasing population was becoming progressively inspired to place pressure on the upper-classes to make concessions of equality.
Additionally, ifLuther not had access to the printing press, it is unlikely ...view middle of the document...
In 1348, the Black Death struck Europe, wiping out a third of Britain’s population. Many saw the disease as a punishment from God for their sins. With the Church unable to offer any explanation, their beliefs were sorely tested. People began to question religion, and such doubts ultimately led to the English reformation.
Arguably, the frequency of such risings within Europe, and the ease with which such prophets inflamed the common people, demonstrates the instability of the situation. In 1348, the Black Death struck Europe, wiping out a third of Britain’s population. Many saw the disease as a punishment from God for their sins, and those who survived believed that there was something special about them. Despite the introduction of the Statute of Labourers 1351, many peasants took the opportunity to improve their lifestyle. This caused great anger amongst the peasants, which eventually boiled over in 1381. Hence, it can be argued that it was the Black Death led to the English Peasant’s Revolt.
While we have no counter-factual history that tells us whether an event like the Reformation would have occurred without the press, these results suggest the possibility that the printing press was necessary for the Reformation to occur when and where it did. Consider again the fate of previous revolts against the Church. The Hussite movement, Lollards, Waldensians, and others were all rather easily and brutally suppressed by the Church. Their mere presence suggests the possibility, however, that the seeds of discontent had been sown for centuries (indeed, many of Luther’s arguments echoed those made by Hus). A primary difference between Luther’s movement and his predecessors is that Luther had the press.