Age of Doubt In Europe in the 16th Century Essay

Age of Doubt In Europe in the 16th Century Essay

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In the 16th Century, Europeans had their faith shattered and were forced to realize that there was doubt in what they believed in. From the countless wars being fought in the name of religion, to the once great and wealthy countries that needed to reaffirm their place in the world, ‘all that they had once taken for granted was suddenly cast into doubt’ (446). Europeans were desperately searching for new foundations to put their faith in ‘in the face of intellectual, religious, and political challenges’ (446). This period is an example of the expression “Age of Doubt, Age of Uncertainty”.

The wars going on throughout Europe through this era were claiming territories through conquest, marriage alliances, or inheritance agreements on the basis of religious uniformity (429). In the 1540’s Germany’s Charles V set into motion attacks against the German princes who were proponents for Lutheran worship. This failed due to the financial taxing of the war Germany had going on with France as well as the fear that the oppression of the Lutheran prices would be similarly done to the Catholic princes in time. In 1955 the Peace of Augsburg was instituted, stated that where Lutherans ruled, Lutherism would be the religion, and the same for Catholic regions. This treaty, while successful in Germany, would set the standard of division of religion throughout Europe (430–431).

In the 1560’s, France’s Catholics were being challenged by the Calvinists of Geneva for over a decade. After the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre King Henry IV issued the Edict of Nantes that mandated Catholicism as the kingdom’s religion, but also offered Huguenots the ability to hold public offices, be able to worship at certain times and places, and enter hospitals and un...


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... still making his tale a satire on the ‘anachronistic chivalric mentality that was already hastening Spain’s decline’ (450). English playwrights like Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and William Shakespeare’s works on the stage ranged from heroes whose ambitions got the better of them (Doctor Faustus), lower class characters getting the upper hand over their superiors (Alchemist), and indecisive idealism (Hamlet)–all focusing on the human behavior (450).

The religious wars of the 16th Century caused intense strife throughout Europe, economic hardships, personal and emotional questioning of belief. Through the pain of many rose rays of hope from artists and intellectuals to help guide them through their uncertainty (455).



Works Cited

Coffin, Judith G, et al. Western Civilizations: Their History & Their Culture. 17th ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Co, 2011. Print.

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