The Protestant Reformation is a religious movement which led to a split from the Roman Catholic Church creating Protestantism, one of the three major branches of Christianity.

In 1517, Martin Luther, wrote 95 theses, which outlined his grievances with the Roman Catholic Church. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer The basis of his claims rest on the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences (paying for forgiveness), stance on purgatory and claim that justification comes through good works. Luther points to the Holy Bible, without influence from the pope, as the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. He established that the Bible teaches justification through faith, not works.

Luther translated the Bible from Latin into German, which allowed common people to read the Bible instead of relying on clergy’s teachings. Luther and others in the Reformation movement utilized the printing press to distribute knowledge to a wide audience for the first time in history.

John Calvin is another important figure in the Reform movement. His Institutes of the Christian Religion agreed with Martin Luther on justification by faith, but implored a regime of enforced morality and stressed God’s power and humankind’s predestined fate. Those who agree with Calvin’s viewpoint are known as Calvinists.

The split from the Catholic church led to a series of wars between 1618 and 1648 in Central Europe known as the Thirty Years’ War in which 8 million perished.