The 1545 Council Of Trent And The Protestant Reformation

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As dates of significance go, the 31st of October 1517 is often pointed to as the start of the Protestant Reformation, the hammer blows upon a Wittenberg door waking many within the church from slumber. The commencement of the Council of Trent in 1545 is viewed as a definitive moment in the Catholic Reformation, or Counter Reformation. The aim of this essay is to explore the 1545 Council of Trent, via the background to its convocation, briefly looking at the proceedings of its stages and finally assessing its theological response to the Protestant Reformation. For many years before its eventual meeting, there had been talk of an ecumenical synod to both reform the Church and react to the challenge pressed forth by Luther. Within the Catholic…show more content…
This cry was echoed by those with perhaps more ‘worldly’ motives of power and ambition such as the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, who was being driven to address the civil strife and dissent caused by Luther’s protest within the Empire and Spanish Netherlands. As early as 1520, merely three years after the close of the Fifth Lateran Council, there was a call for an ecumenical synod. However Pope Leo X was fearful of what the result would be, with his council at Lateran being a diversive response to the vocal conciliarist tendencies of a group of Cardinals. The convocation of Trent owes much to one man, Pope Paul III (1534-1549), a reform-minded Pontiff, originated from a wealthy roman family, and this secured him a humanist education in Rome, Florence and Pisa. The young Renaissance cleric lived a stormy and dissolute life, until he came under the reforming influence of his vicar general, Bartolomeo Guidiccioni. This desire for reform guided his trajectory towards the Papal tiara when Clement died in 1534; He announced at his election his intent to convoke the needed council. In the early years of his Pontificate,…show more content…
In fact there had been two failed attempts to convene a council in both 1537 (Mantua) and 1538 (Vicenza). ).Political tensions between the Holy Roman Empire and France were the cause of the rescheduling of the former and collapse of the latter. Emperor Charles V resisted, as he wanted the council within the confines of the Empire. Even the reform minded Paul began to vacillate on the matter, fearing pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V to compromise with the reformers or the possible erosion of his carefully orchestrated powerbase by a resurrection of the conciliar movement. Charles continued to press the Pope for a council in Imperial lands, no doubt spurred on by the threat of a growing alliance of Lutheran cities princes from whom he needed help against the Turks. A compromise was attempted in selecting Trent, which, while an Italian city, belonged to the Empire. However this was not viewed favourably by the French. Who, being faced with the prospect of a “spectre of a Habsburg dominated Papacy”, stood prepared to back the Turks rather than deal with a Papal-Imperial

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