In Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517, a professor named Martin Luther stood at the entrance of the local church door and nailed a list of 95 complaints to it. The complaints ranged from corruption in the Church to the selling of indulgences to pay for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. However, like any college professor would, Luther primarily complained about the lack of access to knowledge and primary sources. Although this was not the Vatican, it was a symbolic gesture that one church belonged to a bigger whole.
The movement did not necessarily start with Luther. Instead, Luther existed in a time frame in which there was a culmination of movements that had begun a hundred years before. The rise of education and socioeconomic stability in Europe lead to people having access to read the Bible in the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, as well as Greek and Roman philosophy. As soon as Luther sparked the fire, the movement spread throughout most of Europe. The Church attempted to quell the fire by reforming theology and increasing art projects, yet the damage had been done.
The movement ends over a hundred years later with the Thirty Years War and the Peace of Westphalia (1648). The Protestant Movement did not only extend to religion, but it encompassed all European life. It helped spawn ideas of Nationalism, Secularism, the Enlightenment, Scientific Innovation, and the concept of University. It is the movement that would help create modernity in Europe.
Special thanks to those who helped guide and assemble this exhibit:
In addition to the overview provided in each box below, you can use the arrow buttons to view collection items that were part of the exhibit. If you click on the image or caption title, the image will be enlarged in a new tab with the option to zoom in further.