The World of the Reformation
Hillerbrand, Hans J. Charles Scribner's Sons. New York. 1973
When Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses in 1517, he inadvertently precipitated a religious controversy. In the initial stage of that controversy, the response to Luther was widespread and genuine, and the first adherents to the new faith had no intention of breaking with the Roman Catholic Church. Gradually, however, the dissidents divided with the the church and among themselves over theological issues. Finally religion became involved in the power politics of the time: the scared was used to achieve the profane, and the profane was used to achieve the sacred, as rulers and their opposition rallies armies to the cause of "religion in countries like Germany, England, France, Sweden, Scotland and Poland. Ultimately, then, the Reformation was as successful as ti was because political considerations added their weight to the religious ones.
Using this framework, always stressing the interaction of ideas and forces of the Reformation. He rejects a purely theological explanation for the movement, as well as the approach the sees sociopolitical causes in its inception. He thus presents the early part of the sixteenth century neither as a movement in intellectual history nor as one that was totally lacking in significant ideas. He is concerned with what actually happened: how the t ideas were communicated; how the Reformation spread from country to country; what kine of polemic was employed by the protagonists; what were the characteristics of the chief actors of the drama. As he weaves his narrative around these central themes, Dr. Hillerbrand shows the Reformation to be the cohesive phenomenon of the sixteenth century, the movement that drew together religious, theological, and political forces.