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The German Reformation, 1517-63

1. What were the causes of the German Reformation?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we explore the causes of the German Reformation, thinking in particular about the religious, political and social reasons for change. As we move through the module, we consider the shortcomings of many members of the clergy, the emerging anti-Roman sentiment within several regions of the Holy Roman Empire, and the importance of contemporary movements such as Humanism and of new technologies such as the printing press.

- Th. Brady et. al. (eds.), German History in Documents and Images: 1500-1648 (2009)
- G. Strauss (ed.), Manifestations of Discontent … on the Eve of the Reformation (1971)
- Peter Blickle, ‘Communal Reformation and peasant piety: The Peasant Reformation and its late medieval origins’, in Central European History 20 (1987)
- Bernd Moeller, Imperial Cities and the Reformation: Three Essays (1972)
- Berndt Hamm, The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety (2004)


In this course, Professor Beat Kümin (University of Warwick) explores the German Reformation. He begins by looking at the causes of the Reformation, before thinking about the role of Martin Luther himself, wider socio-cultural consequences, the reaction of the Catholic Church in response to the Protestant movement, and finally the impact of the Reformation on Europe today.


Beat Kümin is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Warwick, having joined Warwick's History Department in January 2001.

Beat read History and English at the University of Bern, before conducting doctoral research on 'The Late Medieval English Parish' at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (PhD 1993). As a Research Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge (1993-97), he served as Director of Studies in History in 1996, before returning to Bern to pursue a Swiss National Science Foundation project on early modern public houses.

Since joining the History Department at Warwick, he has obtained a second doctorate (Habilitation in early modern history; Bern 2005), held a guest lectureship at Bielefeld University (2011-12) and spent six months as a Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald (2012-13; blog). In 2014, he directed Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance and in the summer term of 2015 took up a guest professorship at Konstanz.

Beat is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and co-editor of Bloomsbury's 'Cultures of Early Modern Europe' series. Alongside this, he serves on the boards of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, the Journal of Baroque Studies, Brewery History and the Warwickshire Local History Society. Involvement in other scholarly bodies includes the German History Society (Committee Member 2005-8), the Drinking Studies Network and the Warwick Network for Parish Research. In 2014, he was appointed a federal expert for heritage of the Swiss Department of Culture.

Among other publications, Beat has written The Communal Age in Western Europe c.1100-1800: Towns, Villages and Parishes in Pre-Modern Society (Palgrave, 2013) and edited The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History (2nd edn, Routledge, 2014).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Kümin, B. (2018, August 15). The German Reformation, 1517-63 - What were the causes of the German Reformation? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Kümin, B. "The German Reformation, 1517-63 – What were the causes of the German Reformation?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,