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The Reformation (High School) 35:43

Created by Rick Steves' Europe Staff Featured Playlist

Published by: Gabe (Rick Steves' Europe)

In 1517, the printing of Martin Luther's theses challenging the practices of the Catholic church set into motion a century of religious and political upheaval that would change Europe forever. Join Rick as he follows Luther's formative experiences in Rome, examines the clashes between Protestants and Catholics, and traces the effects of the Reformation through the centuries.

Refer to the "Notes to Viewers" below for a list of comprehension questions, discussion prompts, and project ideas to guide you through the playlist and further your learning.

Notes to Viewers
1. What was the small-town German world that Martin Luther was born into like? Who had power, and who didn’t? What was “the biggest and richest structure in town”? Why? 
2. What are The Middle Ages? When did they start? When did they end? 
3. What was art and architecture like in the Middle Ages? Who made the art? Who funded it? What was the art’s purpose?
4. What major movement in Europe occurred alongside the Reformation? What values did this movement promote? How was this movement a departure from The Middle Ages?
5. Why did a young Luther set out on a pilgrimage? What was the journey like? What was his destination? Why?
6. What noteworthy sights did Luther see in Rome? What contradiction struck him? How did some great Renaissance works influence Luther’s realization?
7. What were two Catholic practices that deeply troubled Luther? How did these practices connect to corruption within the church?
8. When Luther returned home from his pilgrimage, what new ideas did he proliferate? How did the German public respond? How did the Pope respond?
9. Who was the Holy Roman Emperor? What was his dilemma during Luther's rise in prominence? How did he seek to resolve the conflict between Luther and the Pope in an orderly fashion? 
10. What important event happened in Worms? What was the result? What happened to Martin Luther afterwards?
11. How did Luther choose to translate the Bible? What invention enabled Luther’s Bible to spread widely? What was the effect of the Luther Bible on the German language?
12. What did the German public realize when they read Luther’s Bible? How did they react?
13. What does Rick mean when he says “The Reformation was unleashing a grassroots social and political rebellion”? Did Luther support these rebellions?
14. What other religious and political leaders challenged Rome and attempted to reform the church alongside Martin Luther? What were their motives for doing so?
15. How were Protestant churches different from Catholic churches? How did the design of Protestant churches reflect their values and beliefs? 
16. What did Catholics living in Protestant regions do during the Reformation? How did the Catholic church fight back against the Protestant Reformation?
17. What does Rick mean when he says that “art became a propaganda tool”? What examples of this do you see in the playlist?
18. Why did many German princes choose to break from the Roman Catholic church? Were their reasons religious or political?
19. What were the consequences of the religious wars spurred by the Reformation? What was the result? What “two camps” was Europe divided into?
20. What two essential changes did the Lutheran movement introduce?

21. Before the Reformation, what language was the Bible written in, and what sources did most common people in Europe in the Middle Ages have for understanding the teachings of the Bible? Were these sources reliable? What was the result of this system? What developments during the Reformation changed how people were able to access Christian scripture? In what areas of our modern society are people taken advantage of because they lack literacy in a certain area? What could be done to combat this corruption?
22. How did the feudal system in medieval Europe function? What did the ruling lords offer peasants, and what did the peasants offer the lords in return? Was this a just system? How did the Reformation affect this feudal system? How does the feudal system compare to your country’s system of government? How could your government be made more just, and what type of movement do you think could spur the necessary changes?
23. After a century of religious wars between Protestants and Catholics, what was finally decided in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia treaty? What two camps did this divide Europe into? How can the effects of this treaty still be seen in Europe today? Can these two camps also be seen within the Christian population of the United States today? How might immigration have affected this distribution?
24. Rick claims that German princes were “using religion as their excuse” when they chose to split with the Catholic church even if it meant risking violent conflict. Why did these German princes actually enter religious wars? What was to gain from splitting with the Catholic church? What religious conflicts are occurring in the world today? Do you think that they are actually religiously motivated, or are there political incentives? What potential political motivations might there be?
25. In what ways did Europe after the Reformation differ from the Europe Luther was born into? What major lasting impacts did the Reformation movement have on Europe and beyond? How can the effects of the Reformation be seen in your society today—both religiously and politically? Do you think these effects are improvements? What would Martin Luther think of modern American society? What changes do you think he would submit to the 21st century churches in your area?
26. How did the Renaissance and the Reformation affect one another? What values did each movement promote? How were their aims similar, and how were they different? How did the style and purpose of art change as a result of each movement? Would you have preferred to live in Europe right before the Renaissance and Reformation or right after these two movements? Why?

27. Create a timeline of the Reformation. Include all major events of the Reformation, arrows that indicate how certain events caused later events, and artistic elements to bring the timeline to life.
28. Imagine that you are Martin Luther. Choose a historical figure from the Reformation, and write a letter to them. Include your thoughts and feelings about the ongoing events in Europe and your hopes for how the tensions and conflicts will resolve.
29. Design a Catholic or Protestant church. Give the church a name, sketch a blueprint for the building, and label the important rooms and features. Finally draw a piece of propaganda art to be featured in the sanctuary, and write a few sentences stating the message of the artwork.
30. Choose a modern institution that you feel needs reforming. Write a list of proposed changes to post on their door. Finally, create a resource in a medium of your choosing to communicate your demands to the public and rally support for your cause.

31. Watch Rick’s special on the Holy Land. Analyze the religious and political conflicts discussed in the special, and compare them to the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics during the Reformation. How are they similar, and how are they different? How are religion and politics entangled in both conflicts?

WA SOCIAL STUDIES LEARNING STANDARDS: SSS2.9-12.2, SSS2.9-12.3, C2.9-10.2, G1.11-12.2, C3.11-12.1, H1.9-10.1, H2.9-10.1, H2.9-10.4