This undergraduate second-year 15 CATS option module explores changes in the culture, theology and political engagement of Catholicism during the era of Reformations in Europe and new encounters between Europe and the wider world. It focuses on the ideas of 'globalisation' – the sixteenth century has recently been proposed as the period when Christianity became a 'global religion' – and 'Reform', the various movements, policies and practices which have traditionally been studied as the Catholic Reformation or Counter-Reformation. Moving from Alexander VI's edict purporting to divide the New World between Spanish and Portuguese sovereignty to the Peace of Westphalia, the module will cover early Catholic/Humanist reform movements; the Protestant Reformation; the Council of Trent; new religious orders such as the Jesuits; the early modern Inquisition; missions to non-European territories; the early modern papacy.
A primarily thematic structure will be used to explore disparate regions and topic. The module will focus on the Catholic Church's engagement with external forces, whether Protestant churches and states, the Islamic Ottoman Empire, or the non-Christian societies of Asia and the Americas. The often uneasy relationship between theology and politics, spiritual and temporal rule will be examined, through the Church's relations with Catholic powers, the conjunction of mission and colonization, and attempts to ensure orthodoxy through coercion. Students will also be encouraged to explore developments in how religion was experienced by the masses of people who were or became Catholics during this period. Avoiding a dichotomy between 'popular' or 'elite' religion, the module will address the continuities and mutual influences between theology, ecclesiastical policy and widespread religious practice.