The sixteenth century was marked by religious divisions in Europe. Protestantism had gained popularity and there were attempts by Catholics to convince Protestants back to the Roman church through propaganda and evangelism. Religious wars broke between Protestants and Catholics who used the Protestant Reformation and Spain’s silver wealth to support their respective quests.
Spain’s silver was the primary resource utilized for commercial expansion and proceeds subsequently used to fund wars. The Spaniards conquered the New World and drove away from the natives in an attempt to explore minerals and lands (Swarthmore). During the sixteenth century, there was intense competition for colonies and conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. The war began when Protestant lords of Bohemia and Austria openly rebelled against Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II who attempted to enforce Catholicism throughout the empire (Burton). While Protestants sought help from England, the Netherlands, and Sweden, the Catholics sought support from Spain. The Proceeds from the sale of Spain’s silver were thus used to fund armies to support Catholics during conflicts.
The Protestant Reformation agenda sparked debates among princes who opposed imperial powers. Protestants spoke against the discriminatory and corrupt practices advanced by the Catholic Church. During the 16th century, people could purchase indulgences and escape from severe punishments issued by the Catholic Church (Burton). Religious leaders also utilized the indulgence opportunity to fund projects by ending professional pardoners to collects funds from the public (Burton). Through Martin Luther, the reformers attempted to go against the Catholicism practices at the time. Luther’s dissent sparked resistance among princes and their municipalities. When a prince was converted, his entire municipality was deemed to have converted too (Burton). This morphed into conflicts between pro-Catholic and pro-Lutheran princes further escalating the religious wars.
The sixteenth century was a period marked by religious divisions. Protestant Reformation was used by Protestants to show dissent and speak against Catholicism. The Catholics equally sought Spain’s silver wealth to fund military armies used to wage war.
Burton, Tara. “The Protestant Reformation, Explained”. Vox, Nov 2, 2017. https://www.vox.com/identities/2017/11/2/16583422/the-protestant-reformation-explained-500-years-martin-luther-christianity-95-theses. Accessed August 14, 2020.
Swarthmore. “Bartoleme de Las Casas”. Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies, 1542. http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bdorsey1/41docs/02-las.html. Accessed August 14, 2020.