The European Reformation

Why did the heretics win?

Pupils will learn about the key individuals (heretics by the standards of the time) who led the way in reforming the theology of early modern Europe. They will study Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and/or the Anabaptists and John Calvin. By looking at these key individuals’ paths to success, pupils will improve their understanding and use of the second-order concept of causation. The significance of the European Reformation will also be shown through a case study of the French Wars of Religion. This unit aims to give pupils a good sense of chronology. Pupils will be assessed at the end of the unit using the ‘Religious Divisions Analytic Timeline’.


By the end of this unit it is expected that all students will: be able to identify some causes and/or consequences of the European Reformation by recalling the story of events.

Most students will: be able to make and explain links between specific causes and consequences of the European Reformation and use the terms ‘long-term cause’, ‘short-term cause’ and ‘trigger’ confidently.

Some learners will have progressed further and will: be able to categorise the various causes of the European Reformation into political, social, religious and economic, begin to analyse trends in these causes over time and evaluate the most important reason why the heretics won and the European Reformation was a success.

Key Assessments (+ see ‘useful weblinks’ below)

Pupils will be assessed at the end of the unit using the ‘Religious Divisions Analytic Timeline’. They will use what they have learnt about the events of the European Reformation to analyse how far each event helped or hindered the progress of the reformers. Some will also explain links between events and categorise the events into
political, social, religious and economic factors. And some will go further still by evaluating the most important reason why the reformers were successful.

Extended homework tasks (+ see ‘useful weblinks’ below)

Students will be asked to research other key individuals from the period and compare their ideas with those of the leading reformers to give them a more detailed sense of period. Students will be expected to draw on their knowledge from lessons and undertake independent research before sharing their work with others in the class.

How to help your child (+ see ‘useful weblinks’ below)

Students and their parents can discuss why Martin Luther and other leading European reformers have been seen as significant individuals in History. Parents can help their children by encouraging them to see both sides of the debate so that they form more balanced arguments. They can also help by encouraging their children to use key words from the topic in their written and oral work.

Language for learning

Heretic   Anticlericalism   Nationalism   Pope   Humanism   Catholicism   Protestantism  Lutheranism   Zwinglianism   Anabaptism   Calvinism   Huguenot   Salvation   Transubstantiation   Consubstantiation   Reformation   Iconoclasm   Baptism   Predestination   Pastor   Bishop   Elder   Deacon   Cause   Consequence   Long-term    Short-term   Trigger   Political   Social   Religious   Economic

Useful web links:

The Reformation

Tudor Portraits – explanation and examples of symbolism

Comments are closed.