Warm-up: 12/1



The Renaissance Sparks New Ideas
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Why a reformation?
Problems w/ The Catholic Church
List a problem for each box below, then provide a brief explanation. Use pages 454-456 for information.






A. Signs of Disorder 1. Clerical immorality  priests frequently violated their vows of celibacy. They were also accused of drunkenness, gambling, and other vices. Examples 2. Clerical ignorance  many priests could barely read or write. They were less educated than most educated laity. 3. Clerical absenteeism and pluralism  especially in higher-level Church officials who were often absent from their sees. Many held more than one office at a time, and some had bought their offices. 4. Upper levels of the Church hierarchy were dominated by aristocrats who lived well.

The Condition of the Church (ca 1400–1517)

Josse Lieferinxe, Pilgrims at the Tomb of St. Sebastian Here we see Christians, especially those who are ill or handicapped, flocking to the Tomb of St. Sebastian. (Scala/Art Resource, NY)

The Condition of the Church (ca 1400–1517)
B. Signs of Vitality 1. In Holland the Brethren of the Common Life lived simply, aided the poor, and taught in local schools. 2. Church attendance and church donations remained high. 3. Pope Julius II summoned an ecumenical council to discuss Church reform (1512–1517).

• Pope Julius had syphilis and fathered at 3 children while a cardinal. • Pope Leo:
– Spent entire papal fortune in 2 years – Attended by almost 700 courtiers (including a midget friar), an orchestra, and a theatre company – Accompanied in processions by a panther, two leopards, and a white elephant. – Sold positions in the church for cash

Clerical Immorality

• Said to be sources of miracles and aids to redemption. Examples:
– Piece of the finger of Mary Magdalene displayed at cathedral at Fécamp. – Abbey of St. Denis (Paris) contained body parts of 5 saints and the head of a sixth. Also had a piece of the Cross and a nail from the Cross. – Frederick the Wise at Wittenberg had: a twig from the burning bush, straw from the Bethlehem manger, hair from Christ’s beard and 8 thorns from the crown of thorns.
• A total of 17,443 relics in all. Said to have a total of 1,902,202 and 270 days worth of remission of sins.


• Sale in early 1500s driven by need to fund building of St. Peter’s in Rome. • Justified by claim that Pope had power to dispense “accumulated merit” of the Church to individuals. For cash. • Johann Tetzel- German Dominican- was one of the key “salesmen”
– Not only sold indulgence to people for themselves, but also for departed loved ones. – Said indulgence was so powerful that “even if someone had slept with Christ’s dear Mother, the Pope had power in heaven and on earth to forgive as long as money was put into the indulgence coffer.


Matthias Gerung, Folly of Indulgences In this woodcut by Matthias Gerung the sale of indulgences is viciously satirized. With one claw in the holy water symbolizing the rite of purification, and the other claw resting on the coins paid for indulgences, the church, in the form of a rapacious eagle with its right hand stretched out for offerings, writes out an indulgence with excrement--which represents its worth. Fools, in a false security, sit in the animal's gaping mouth, representing hell. (Kunstsammlung der Veste Coburg)

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