|The Story of Europe|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Presents the broader movements of European history, emphasizing the main factors which have gone into the formation and development of the various European states from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. The history of England is included only when that country plays a prominent part in the politics of Europe. A full treatment of the period immediately following the fall of the Roman Empire is given, since that period provides the necessary key to future developments. For smoother reading, dates are relegated to the margin for the most part. Maps, timelines, and genealogy charts of the various royal houses of Europe contribute to making this book an excellent resource for the study of the Middle Ages in Europe. Ages 14-18 |
REFORMATION PERIOD—ENGLAND AND SCANDINAVIA
IN England the Reformation ran a different course from that in France or Germany. In these countries
Protestantism spread in spite of the strenuous opposition of the rulers. In England it was aided by the ruler,
King Henry VIII.
When Martin Luther first published his theses Henry VIII denounced him loudly, and as loudly upheld the
headship of the pope. He even wrote a book called "The Defence of the Seven Sacraments," a copy of which,
sumptuously bound, he sent to the pope. In return, Leo X bestowed upon him the title of Defender of the Faith.
A few years after this Henry desired to divorce his wife Katharine of Aragon, in order to marry Anne Boleyn.
He professed a fear that he had sinned against heaven in marrying Katharine at all, as she was the widow of
 brother Arthur, and he asked the pope, now Clement VII, to grant him a divorce.
Now Katharine was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and the aunt of the Emperor Charles V. So
Henry's demand placed Clement in a difficult position. If he refused to grant Henry's request he would offend
him. If he granted it he would offend Charles V. He dared not offend Charles, so he temporized. But Henry grew
weary of awaiting the pope's pleasure, and he induced Archbishop Cranmer to pronounce the divorce without
further appeal to Rome.
Henry VIII Supreme Head of the English Church
Upon this the pope ordered Henry to take back his wife upon pain of excommunication. Instead of obeying, Henry
replied by cutting the Church of England free from Rome.
Acts of Parliament were speedily passed declaring that the king of England, and not the pope of Rome, was the
supreme head of the English Church, and forbidding the payment of any moneys to the pope. It was also declared
that the bishop of Rome had no more jurisdiction in the kingdom of England than any other foreign bishop. Mass
was ordered to be said in English instead of in Latin. Masses for the dead, pilgrimages, adoration of relics
and images, were forbidden, and the Doctrine of Purgatory was denied. Beyond this Henry made little alteration
in the teaching or services of the Church.
He, indeed, suppressed monasteries and convents. But this had nothing to do with religious conviction. He was
in need of money, the religious houses were rich in land and money; therefore he suppressed them and took
their wealth to himself.
Henry needed an excuse for doing this. His excuse was that the monks and nuns led wicked and idle lives, which
were a disgrace to religion. In many cases this was true.
 Henry, however, did not distinguish between the houses of good or ill repute, but treated all alike. But the
monasteries and convents were the hospitals, almshouses, and schools of the day, and the closing of them
brought misery on the people. The land, too, was soon filled with homeless, beggared monks, and a rising known
as the Pilgrimage of Grace took place. But the rebellion was put down, and Henry continued his suppressions.
Although England was thus separated from Rome not by the zeal of a reformer but by the command of a selfish
and stubborn king, king and people were at one. The king's action in breaking with the pope coincided with the
wishes of the people; they both girded at papal interference, and both clung to the old theology.
But besides this there was a real desire for reform, and to many it seemed that the king's reform was not
radical enough. For many of the people had become imbued with the doctrines of Luther and Calvin, and wished
to see England a Protestant country. This was not the king's will. He would brook no opposition to his will,
and he put to death impartially Catholics who denied his supremacy as head of the Church, and Protestants who
held Calvinistic theories about the Holy Sacrament.
So in England, no more than in other countries, was the Reformation accomplished without bloodshed and
persecution. The new English Church persecuted those who refused adherence, but not till Mary Tudor came to
the throne did the fires of persecution burn fiercely. She was an ardent Catholic, yet as queen of England she
was supreme head of the Anglican Church, a church that she was bound to hate. In her fervent devotion to Rome
she endeavoured to bring back England to its allegiance. But in spite of cruel persecution she failed.
Henry VIII had been able to impose his religion on the people of England, because they themselves desired to
 with Rome. Mary failed to impose her religion on then, because her will was not theirs. In her blind fealty to
Rome she plunged her country into blood. She repealed all the religious legislation of her father and of her
brother Edward VI. But all her efforts were in vain. The awakening intellect of England became more and more
Protestant and national, and no laws of princes could prevent its final severance from Rome.
In Scotland, also, the new religion took root. The great reformer there was John Knox, a follower of Calvin.
The success of the Reformation in Scotland was of great importance to the history of Europe. The young queen
of Scots, Mary, brought up in France, was heart and soul with the Roman Church. If she had had a united
country behind her she might with the help of Rome and France have made good her claim to the throne of
England. Then in England the Protestant religion might have been wiped out for ever, even as it was destined
to be in France. At least, so it seemed to the politicians of the day. Looking back, it seems very doubtful if
the awakened spirit of liberty in England could have been so coerced.
As it was, Scotland was divided between the old religion and the new. English Protestants and Scottish
Protestants made common cause against the French and the Catholics, and the allied Protestants triumphed. In
this first union of religion may be seen the beginnings of united Britain.
Sweden, Denmark, and Norway
The Reformation spread even to Scandinavia and the far north. There, at first, it was imposed by the rulers
somewhat after the manner of the English Reformation. But there, too, the people were ready for reform, and
the countries soon became entirely Protestant.
 During the centuries when the countries of south-western Europe had been rising to importance, Scandinavia had
had little effect on them, and had been little affected
by them. Its history is chiefly a record of internal
struggles between the three kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark for supremacy. In 1397, by the Union of
Calmar, these three kingdoms were at length united under one ruler. But still, although they had only one
ruler, there was no real union among them.
The Swedes especially hated the domination of Denmark, and more than once tried to regain their independence.
Then, in 1520, Christian II of Denmark, in the hope of for ever crushing Swedish independence, massacred all
the nobles at Stockholm in cold blood.
This horrible deed was called the Stockholm Bath of Blood, and instead of crushing Sweden's desire for
independence it roused the national spirit as it had never been roused before. The Swedes threw off all
semblance of allegiance to Denmark, and chose a young noble named Gustavus Vasa for their leader. In 1523
there was a revolution in Denmark. Christian II was driven from the throne, and Gustavus Vasa became king of
Sweden, and Frederick I of Holstein king of Denmark and Norway.
With the reign of Gustavus Vasa the history of Sweden as an independent kingdom may be said to begin. But
meanwhile the kingdom was wasted with war. The royal treasury was empty, and Gustavus knew not where to turn
for money. But although king and people were poor the Church was rich, and Gustavus determined to take the
Church revenues for state purposes.
At a meeting of the Diet in 1527 he made clear his intentions. He was met with fierce opposition on the part
of the bishops who were present, and finding he could not bend the Diet to his will he rose in anger.
"Then I will no more be your king," he cried, "and if
 you can find another who will please you better I will rejoice. Pay me for my possessions in the land, give me
back what I have spent in your service. Then I shall go. And I swear solemnly I shall never come back to this
debased and ungrateful country of mine." And with that he left them.
But the Swedes could not do without Gustavus. It was he alone who held the country together, and in three days
they yielded to his demands. Thus by the will of one man the Reformation was established in Sweden.
A little later the Reformation was established in Denmark. Christian II had been attracted to the new
religion, and had intended to introduce it, when his subjects had rebelled and driven him from the throne. His
successor, Frederick, was a Protestant, and favoured the religion, but it was not until the reign of his son
Christian III that it was fully established in the country.
During his reign also the new religion was established in Norway. For unlike Sweden, Norway had failed to
assert her independence, and had even lost her old status as a separate kingdom, and become a mere dependency
of the kingdom of Denmark.
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