The Protestant Reformation and the Conquest of North America

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The Contribution of Protestant Reformation in the Conquest of North America

Many people hardly believe that protestant reformation had a little contribution in the conquest of North America. Mostly, for those people who come seeking religious freedom, they factored the protestant reformation as the only tool to achieve their goal. The Reformation contributed to the development of the anti-Catholic movement which geared towards the correction of what perceived to be the excesses and errors of the Catholic church (Sperry, 2014). The reformation formed a dominant position against the papacy in particular who was the Roman clerical leader. The British colonists who were protestants were opposed to not only the Catholic church but also the church of England due to its assimilation of Catholic practices and doctrines. Since many British colonists were fleeing religious persecution, North America experience extreme anti-Catholic bias and the church followers denied the chance to hold public office.

Religious Conflict and Persecution in North America

During this time, most of the North America catholic and protestant states persecuted each other's religious basis. The revolution brought divisions in some denominations especially in the church of England where the ministers and the followers were bound by oath to support the Quakers and the king who were pacifists traditionally. In some areas of North America especially the central region, many Christians suffered due to the destruction of churches especially the Catholic churches and the churches belonging to England church but performed some Catholic rituals.

The Counter-Reformation and its Impact

The protestant reformation was countered by the Catholic church using counter-reformation tactics. It was an approach to undo everything which was brought by the Protestant revolution (Wright, 2017). Between the year 1545 and 1648, the Catholic church developed various practices to renewal and revived Catholic influence. The multiple division of Christianity especially the Catholic side and the Protestant followers set the ground into the two branches. The tension was widespread between the two denominations which erupted into a series of wars, widely known as European war of religions.

Wars and Conflicts in the Aftermath of the Reformation

The wars in 16th and 17 centuries after the Protestant reformation aftermath disordered the order in Catholic countries (Cipriani, 2017). However, the war was not only caused by religious conflicts. Some of the other factors which contributed to the battle included territorial ambitions, revolts and so on. The denominate conflict started with the Knights' revolution in 1522, which was a minor war in the holy roman empire. The battle intensified in 1545 when the Catholic church began the counter-reformation to fight the Protestantism. After a long time, the conflict ended through the peace of Westphalia which recognizes three central different religious communities; Lutheranism, Calvinism and the roman catholic. So many religious leaders were affected by the fight, but still, the religious wars continued after the Westphalia period up to 1710s (Rudolph, 2018).

Division and Impact on the Anglican Church

The revolution in America inflicted severe wounds on the Anglican church than in any other denomination since the king of England was the head. The church suffered bitter divisions among the reforming puritans and the traditions Anglicans. The differences between the two faiths remained.

The Historical Significance of the Protestant Reformation

In conclusion, the reformation of the Protestants was a historical event which played a significant part in the conquest of North America and many other states in the world. After Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses in a particular church in Wittenberg back in 1517, he ignited different motions among the people of the world and especially North America which altered the course of history. The reaction from the people resulted in an eruption of the religious wars which influenced in a more significant way the conquest of North America.


Cipriani, R. (2017). Religion and Values. In Diffused Religion (pp. 165-194). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Rudolph, S. H. (2018). Introduction: Religion, states, and transnational civil society. In Transnational religion and fading states (pp. 1-24). Routledge.

Sperry, W. L. (2014). Religion in America (Vol. 1). Cambridge University Press.

Wright, A. D. (2017). The Counter-Reformation: Catholic Europe and the Non-Christian World. Routledge.

November 13, 2023


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