crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  history  .

   Course Title    Reformation in Central and Western Europe 1400 - 1570
Lecturer    Victor P. Likhobabin
Institution    Mari State University
Country    Russia

The length of the course on Reformation in Central and Western Europe is 30 academic hours (45 min).

The course is designed for the fourth-year students who choose specialization of Regional History at the Historical faculty for first semester (from September through December). By the 4th year of their education, students have basic and special knowledge in medieval history and experience in the work with primary sources.


The course proposes to increase students’ comprehension of the Reformation as a turning point from the Middle Ages to Modern history when a widening majority were involved in public discussion of religious and political issues in the context of national identity, and gained creative potency for reshaping of the image of Western civilization.

It's important to emphasize that, as Philip Schaff has said: "the Reformation was neither a revolution nor a restoration, though included elements of both. That it was negative and destructive towards error, positive and constructive towards truth; it was conservative as well as progressive; it built up new institutions in the place of those which it pulled down; and for this reason and to this extent it has succeeded".

Thus the course is envisioned as a key for comprehension of cultural and political heritage of Europe and for mature understanding of religion as a powerful motive for social activity. It places distinctive stress at the innovation in religious patterns as a cornerstone event in the rethinking of key political and legal ideas and shaping of the Western democracy.

The course achieves an additional goal: it gives an opportunity to clarify and understand the sources of contemporary religious pluralism in cohesion with a cultural diversity. It is supposed to help students engage in mature collaboration in the international community.


The course combines a chronological and problematical approach in the lectures and seminars, where students discuss distinctive questions based on their independent work with scholarly literature and primary sources. Individual work with students will be applied to orient and advise them on written analysis of primary sources text.


Students are expected to attend the lectures and show activity in seminars. The texts, relative to theme of the seminars, should be read and students must be able support the discussion. To end the course a written analysis of the one of the items from list of primary sources given below should be presented.

Attendance – 10%

Activity in seminars – 20%

Analytic paper – 30%

Final oral exam – 40%



  1. Orientation; Introduction: Chronology of the course; Meaning and place of the Reformation in European history. (2 h)
  2. Historical background of the Reformation: An outlook on the general political situation in Europe on the eve of the Reformation in Germany; Crusades and national sentiments; The Roman Catholic Church from schism through Reformatory Councils 1378 – 1449; Central doctrines in political and social application. (2 h)
  3. Historical necessity for the Reformation: Corruption in the Roman Church and political ambitions of the papacy; Ideology of the Renaissance as a preparation of reformatory doctrines and public perception; Early doctrinal criticism by John Wiclif. (2 h)
  4. Hussite movement in Bohemia, (1400 – 1436): Chronology; The university stage of the movement under Wiclif's influence; Religion and Nationalism in Huss's and Jerome's of Prague ministry; Council of Constance; Differentiation in the camp of Hussites and revolution in Prague in 1419; Four Prague articles – political and social aspects; Defeating of outward aggression and inward struggle; Battle at Lipan and Basel Compactata; Consequences of the Hussite movement. (4 h)
  5. The German Reformation: Martin Luther and his doctrines; The German Reformation from the publication of Luther’s theses to the diet of Worms, (1517–1521); the Peasants’ War; The inner development of the Reformation from the peasants’ war to the diet of Augsburg, (1525–1530); The sacramentarian controversies; The diet and Confession of Augsburg; Spread of the Lutheran Reformation in Germany; Radicalism in the German Reformation; Luther’s influence upon the state policy and national culture. (4 h)
  6. The Swiss Reformation: Reformation in Zurich, Basle, Bern; National patriotism of Ulrih Zwingli and his concept of Church and State; Zwingli and radicalism; Civil war and consolidation. (2 h)
  7. Calvinistic movement in French Switzerland: Preparatory work of William Farel; First and second Calvin's sojourns in Geneva; Constitution and discipline of the church in Geneva: Calvin's concept of State and Church and theology; Calvin's influence upon Protestantism. (4 h)
  8. Comparative characteristic of reformatory concepts of the church order and discipline; Political pragmatism in the Reformation; Leadership and social interests in the "doctrinal revolution". (2 h)
  9. The consequences of the Reformation and its influence upon religious, political, legal, and social standards in Europe: the Reformation and rationalism; Biblical criticism and education; Protestantism and religious liberty; Protestantism and denominationalism; Religious intolerance and liberty; Relation between reformatory doctrines and legal culture. (2 h)


  1. Early reformatory criticism: John Wiclif (1328-1384); John Huss (1372-1415).
  2. National, political and legal content of Luther' doctrines.
  3. Calvin' theory of the State, Church and Government in his theology.



Europe in the Sixteenth Century / Ed by H.G.Koenigsberger, G.L.Moss, G.Q.Boeler. London, 1989: Chapter 6: Christianity, Popular Culture and Humanism, P. 127; Ch. 7: Reformation, P 160; Ch. 8: A Continued Reformation, P. 182; Ch. 9: The Catholic Reformation, P. 207.

The Heritage of World Civilizations. Vol. I / Ed. by A.M.Craig, W.A.Graham, D.Kagan. N.Y., 1990: Chapter 17: The Age of Reformation and Religious Wars. P. 457 – 649.

Scholarly literature


Baldwin M. W. The medieval Church. N.Y., 1967.

Holborn, Hajo. A History of Modern Germany: Historic Results of the Reformation / The Development of Civilization: A documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought. Glenview, Ill, 1970. P. 103 – 105.

Lapteva L.P. Hussitskoye dvizenie v Chehii XV veka. Moskva, 1990.

Smirin M.M. Germania epohi Reformatsii i Velikoy Krestyanskoy voyni. Moscow, 1962.

Tawney R.H. Religion and the Rise of Capitalism: Protestantism and Capitalism / The Development of Civilization: A documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought. Glenview, Ill, 1970. P. 99 – 103.


Ian Hus, Martin Luter. Jan Kalvin. Torkvemada. Loyola. Biograficheskie ocherki. Moskva, 1995.

Revunenkova N.V. Renesansnoe svobodomislie I ideologia reformatsii. Moskva, 1988.

Sun-Chzon, Pikov G.G. Jan Kalvin I nekotorie problemi shveytsarskoy Reformatsii. (text in e-format, available in the library at the department of General History)


Anonymous Pamphlet, 1523 // Discovering the Western Past: A Look at the Evidence. V. I. P. 296 – 299.

Calvin, John. Institutes of Christian Religion. Vol. 1 – 4. (Text in e-format from The Master Christian Library in resources of the Department of General History)

Calvin, Jan. O hristianskoy jisni. Moskva, 1995.

Calvin, Jan. Nastavlenie d hristianskoy vere. Moskva, 1997.

Decrees of Sacrosancta and Frequens: The Council of Constance // The Development of Civilization: A documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought. Glenview, Ill, 1970. P. 78.

Documents of the Christian Church / Ed. by H.Bettenson. London, 1967:

The Bull Unigenitus of Clement VI, 1343. P. 182 – 183.

The Machinery of Indulgences. Instruction issued by Albert of Mainz. P184 – 185.

The Ninety-Five Theses, 1517. P. 185 – 191.

The Leipzig Disputation, 1519. P. 191 – 192.

The Diet of Worms, 1521. Luther's Final Answer. P. 199 – 201.

The Confession of Augsburg, 1555. P. 214 – 215.

The Council of Trent, 1545 – 63.

Hus, John. De Ecclesia: Nationalistic Protest // The Development of Civilization: A documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought. Glenview, Ill, 1970. P. 76 – 78.

Lavrentiy iz Brzesovoy. Hussitskaya hronika. Moskva, 1962.

Luther, Martin. Sermon in Erfurt, 1521 // Discovering the Western Past: A Look at the Evidence. V. I. / Ed. by Wicsner M.E., Ruff J.R., Weeler W.B. Boston, 1993. P. 284 – 288.

Luther, Mrtin. Izbrannie proizvedenia. Sanct Peterburg, 1994:

Svoboda Hristianina. S. 16 – 54;

Otkritoe uveschevanie ko vsem hristianam… S. 120 – 129;

O svetskoy vlasti. S. 131 – 163.

Wycliffe, John. Letter to Pope Urban VI, 1384 // The Development of Civilization: A documentary History of Politics, Society, and Thought. Glenview, Ill, 1970. P. 74 – 76.

   crc  .  syllabi collection  .  alumni syllabi  .  history  .