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Lecture 1, Introduction to the Reformation:

As the year 1500 arrived, Europe was in the midst of profound changes. The conditions, attitudes, and institutions that had characterized the Middle Ages were gradually giving way to new movements and developments. The discovery of unknown lands across the Atlantic accompanied an explosion of exploration and trade. The emergence of powerful monarchies in Germany, France, and Spain introduced complex new dynamics to European politics. In the aftermath of the Renaissance, interest in learning and the study of ancient texts ran high, and the recent invention of Gutenberg’s printing press facilitated the spread of ideas at an unprecedented rate. Amid this prevailing climate of change, a consensus was forming among many Europeans that certain beliefs and practices of the church were in dire need of reform.