In the 16th century, a reactionary religious movement threatened to interrupt the rebirth of reason in the Renaissance. The Reformation was an attempt to drag Europe back to the mysticism and asceticism of the Dark Ages. Although the leading Reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, were devout enemies of the growing rationality and secularism of the time, the Reformation's actual outcome was to fracture Christian Europe for centuries to come, shatter the political power of the Church and ignite bloody religious wars.
Focusing on events in Europe from 1517 to 1648, this course addresses these and other questions as it traces the Reformation from its roots in the ideas of Wycliffe and Hus, through those of Luther and his successors—such as Calvin and Zwingli—to the political maelstrom that followed: the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. It examines the nature of the religious disputes at the center of the Reformation, the lasting effects of those disputes on Europe, and the inevitability of force among those who rely on faith for their beliefs.
Lecture one focuses on the ideological Lutheran schism in Germany and its offshoots led by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin. Lecture two details the more political schism created by Henry VIII and his descendants in England. Lecture three surveys the religious and nationalistic wars that ultimately spanned all of Europe.
This course was recorded at the Objectivist Summer Conference 2010 in Las Vegas, NV.
(MP3 download; 4 hrs, 33 min, with Q & A. 248 MB)