The 16th Century
Upheaval was everywhere in the 15th and 16th century. Events occurred all over the world, and they shaped who and what we are today.
Spain and Portugal began sea exploration. King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile were very interested in world travel. These two great rulers brought together their kingdoms and united them under Spain. Their religious fervor was the basis of the conversion or exile of many Muslim and Jewish subjects. The two also financed Christopher Columbus’s explorations.
England faced a time of huge religious change under King Henry VIII. After Catherine of Aragon (Isabella’s daughter) was unable to bear Henry a male heir, he attempted to divorce her for his most recent mistress, Anne Boleyn. When the Pope declared his marriage to Catherine legal and valid, Henry broke apart from the Catholic religion and became the head of the Church of England.
The Ottoman empire continued to expand during this time, and Japan was facing a very serious civil war.
And of course during this time was the French Wars of Religion, between the Catholics and the Huguenots, or Protestants.
The Protestant religion began when they denied the universal authority of the Pope. Popes had absolute power in those days. Although a king was almighty in his country, he still had to respond to the Pope. After all, the Pope is God’s earthly servant. Whenever a king did something the Pope disagreed with, he could simply be exiled from the church, and therefore Heaven.
So breaking apart from the Church was the best course of action for the powerful. They could decide what was deemed “holy” or “unholy,” they could declare what was God’s word.
And so this act brought about one of the biggest religious upheavals in history. It begs the question, what if there had been no break in religion? Who would we be today? Where would we be living?