Scramblin' thru... Counter Reformation
"Expect the Spanish Inquisition!"
Begun in 1545, the Counter Reformation saw the Roman Catholic Church reaffirm its dogma (doctrines about faith), stop the sale of indulgences, established the Inquisition, and create thee Index of Forbidden Books to root out "dangerous" literature. The Society of Jesus (or Jesuits) was founded in 1534 by Saint Ignatius of Loyola [pictured left] to promote Catholic education and encourage pilgrimages to the Holy Land to convert Muslims.
Soon, however, conflicts between Protestants and Catholics escalated until the two sides went to war in the 1500s and fought for over 100 years. With both sides convinced that God was on their side, the fighting grew bloody. Some rulers used these wars as a chance to crush rivals. Two key events saw the English defeat the "invincible" Spanish Armada in 1588 and Europe square off in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648).
By the 16th Century, Catholic Spain had the largest empire in the world. When it sent 130 warships to conquer Protestant England (ruled by Queen Elizabeth I), the larger Spanish ships were unable to fend off the more maneuverable English boats. The Armada's defeat made England "masters of the sea", a title they held until the U.S. surpassed them in WWII.
The Thirty Years' War involved almost all of Europe. By war's end, France replaced Spain as the strongest country, one-third of Germany was dead, and Europe lay devastated. The killing of Christians by Christians resulted in the worst death toll since the Black Death and showed that religion + politics = instability.
The Inquisition was a system of church courts that placed heretics and sinners on trial. Torture and imprisonment were used to extract confessions from
Protestants and disobedient Catholics. To be "purified by pain" was going to be more than a few lashes or a jog around the block...
The Inquisition was especially strong in
Spain where Christian forces had only recently succeeded in pushing the Muslim
Moors back to North Africa.
For centuries under Muslim rule, Spain had been a
multi-cultural society where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived side-by-side. After Christians retook Spain in 1492 (called
the "Reconquista"), Jews and Muslims were expelled from Spain. (Because, you know... that's what Jesus would do...)
Spain's Catholic King Philip was married to England’s Catholic Queen "Bloody" Mary. When Mary died, Philip asked her Protestant half-sister, Queen Elizabeth, to marry him. She said "No"... so he sent the Armada to destroy her. (Yea, some would categorize that as an "overreaction".)
The Treaty of Westphalia (1648) ended the Thirty Years' War, which actually lasted 30 years (1618-1648)... unlike the Hundreds' Year War that lasted 116 years.
Nevertheless, this treaty included the expression, "Whose the region, his the religion." This was believed to be the key to ending war for the rest of time... letting the rulers choose the religion of their land. France, Italy, and Spain chose to remain Catholic. Germany, England, and Scandinavia went the Protestant route. And, as history will show, none of these countries ever fought again. Riiiiiiiiight...