What Was the Difference Between the Reformation and the Renaissance?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 29, 2020 11:13:30 PM ET

The primary difference between the Reformation and the Renaissance was that the Reformation focused on a religious revolution, while the Renaissance focused on an intellectual revolution. The Reformation came about in order to correct what many felt were the "faults" of the Catholic Church, leading to Protestant churches such as the Lutheran churches and Baptist churches. The Renaissance came about as a rebirth of classic civilization, leading to breakthroughs in artistic, scientific, political and philosophical thought.

The Reformation began in order to weaken the papacy. Many people felt that the church was corrupt, and there were also a variety of internal power struggles. In the 1300s and 1400s, there were three Popes at once for the Catholic Church. The Popes also lived extravagantly and practiced nepotism. This upset the people, so John Wyclif and Jan Hus made the first attempts to reform the Catholic Church. Finally, Martin Luther stepped in and created his own church system. From here, many different Protestant churches were born.

The Renaissance started at the end of the 14th century. A notable belief of this movement was that man was at the center of his own universe. The Renaissance specifically began in Florence, and was known as the "Italian Renaissance." Here, the wealthy people wanted to flaunt their status and money, so they became patrons of intellectuals and artists. This helped make Florence the cultural center of Europe. It was this patronage that made the movement extraordinary, because it allowed the thinkers and artists to spend their days focusing on their passions instead of working menial jobs in order to support those passions.