Role of Religion in the Conquest of North America

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North America, like other regions in the world, was conquered due to various reasons. Among the factors that led to its conquest include social, economic and religious factors. Even though several people are reluctant to admit that different religious factors contributed to the conquest of North America, Christianity played a significant role in the whole process. Evidently, Protestant Reformation resulted in the enhancement of anti-Catholic movement. The movement's objective was to correct what was perceived as errors of the Catholic Church. Arguably, most of the Protestant British colonists encouraged the reformation because they were against the Catholic doctrines. As mentioned by Greeley (2017), Protestants and Catholics influenced the conquest of North America. Nevertheless, there were several major differences between the Protestants and Catholic influences in the conquest of North America.

Persecution and Catholic Influence

As noted by Racaut (2017), the period of conquering North America was characterized by persecution of not only Catholics but also Protestants. People persecuted one another on religious basis. Arguably, most Protestants destroyed numerous Catholic churches and this led to endless persecution of people. In North America, the Catholics strived to counter the Protestants revolution. Between the year 1544 and 1649, as mentioned by Racaut (2017), the Catholic Church endeavored to revive the Catholic influence in the region. The division in Christianity widened in North America as Protestants and the Catholics in the region were in a constant war. The rivalry between the two was widespread and resulted in a series of war in the region that was commonly referred to as European war of religions.

Other Factors Contributing to War

It is imperative to note that the wars that occurred in North America in the 16th and 17th centuries were not only caused by religious confrontations. Revolts and territorial ambitions are some of the key factors that contributed to the war. For instance, the Knights' revolution occurred in the year 1522 and Protestants were majorly involved in the revolution. The conflict escalated in the year 1545 when the Catholics began the counter-reformation aimed at fighting the ideologies of the Protestants in North America. The peace of Westphalia, as acknowledged by Young & Killick (2017), majorly contributed towards the reduction of the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in North America. Notably, the peace of Westphalia acknowledged three religious communities in the area. The recognized religious communities included Lutheranism, Roman Catholic, and Calvinism. Even though peace of Westphalia helped in reducing the confrontations, religious wars and persecution of people on religious grounds continued until in the early 18th century.

Effects on Religious Leaders and Churches

The religious wars, as noted by Young & Killick (2017), continued as both the Protestants and Catholics wanted to be superior over the other. It was difficult to control the conflict as there were large followers of each of them. The revolution in North America, as explained by Young & Killick (2017), affected not only several religious leaders but also numerous churches. For instance, the Anglican Church was greatly affected as the King of England was its leader.


In conclusion, the Protestant Reformation played a crucial role in the conquest of not only North America but also different nations in the world. Different renowned world leaders ignited their followers' emotions across the world, especially in North America. The people's reactions led to the upsurge of religious conflicts which influenced the conquest of North America. Notably, both the Protestants and Catholics differently influenced the conquest.


Greeley, A. M. (2017). Religion in Europe at the end of the second millenium: A sociological profile. Routledge.

Racaut, L. (2017). Hatred in print: Catholic propaganda and Protestant identity during the French wars of religion. Routledge.

Young, S., & Killick, H. (2017). Religion and the Decline of Magic. Macat Library.

November 13, 2023

History World

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American History

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