Saber thank you for explaining what I was saying better than I could, I am no genus by any means and I started doing this research for a historic game that takes place in europe and asia over the course of history, and religious instutions both organized and non play a large role in history.
To be honest the outright hostility to, and ignorance of, theology and religious history in general, that I've been seeing online and off I think is a detriment to the future of mankind. I hate seeing rabid religious nuts like the westburogh baptists (they are not christians, they are cultists on par with the Jonestown loonies.) or the depctions of priests in modern media either as innocent victims of badguys, or far right hypocrits as the only example of faith people are exposed to.
This is not only insulting and false, it makes people cling to their doctrine all the harder, and allows extremists to minupliate that fear.
We have to face it, faith and religion are part of human culture, and they do not stay stagnent, they will change, but they will remain.
I liked Doctor Who's dipiction of "The Roman Church" and how they'd changed by the year 2570.
anyways continuing on with the history of organized religion.
What triggered the reformation was a combhination of factors, the advent of the printing press allowed ideas, proppaganda, edicts, information, and entertainment to be widely availble to the common man.
The growing power of the cathloic church post-crusade worried many secular authorities. dispite the collapse of crusader zeal, and defeat, the three major crusades did a lot to propell the cathloic church into a position of power and authority, though the power of the church waxed and waned depending on the pope in power. For example a french king moving the pope from Rome to France to keep him in line.
But the church held ultimate power over the souls of europe, This resulted in the church able to bargen as a major power, and even profit from it's monopoly.
Bishops wielded greater power than ever before, many the equal of princes, and that power corrupted them.
This is the church that many people remember as the abusive, opressive, corrupt, anti-science organization.
It began to be more important to "tow the party line" with the pope in power having final say over church Doctrine, especally now that the Orthodox church had been hobbled. Some popes were decent folk, philophers and politicans, Theologians, and so on, but just as many were not. With the increasing incomes of europeans, and the abundance of wealth, there was much more gold flowing into the coffers than ever before.
Many began taking church funds and goods that were intended for the poor, needy, and whathave you, and instead using it to build bigger and better churches. many of the lavish items you see on bishops or popes today are artifacts from that era, as are some of the biggest monuments of the church.
Eventually people could take no more, and a humble german monk named Martin Luther, posted a list of wrongdoings on the doors of a local cathedrial. This became The Reformation, Luther essencally drove a spike into the cracks in The Roman Church's foundation and cracked the whole building.
The reformation started off not with the massive riots, or overthrowing of churchly authority as it was dipicted in protistant proppaganda later on. It began as small riots here and there, a few nobles seeing a way to seperate their "divine backed" authority from the church, while keeping it intact.
That was untill Rodrigo Borga won the papal election, Rodrigo was everything the rebels feared, the most corrupt pope in papal history, his family locked down the papacy under their heel. Riots became a Rebellion among the lower and middle class. Then was backed by nobility, and became a theological civil war.
The Reformation also saw the rise of both The Jesuit Order, missionaries and political theologicans the jesuit order was in far flung corners of the world doing good works while trying to staunch the bleeding at home. The Jesuits would become a powerful arm of the church later on.
It also saw the rise of The Office of The Inquisiton, which untill now had been closer to an internal affairs office for The Roman Church more concerned with rooting out heresy within the ranks than out burning and harassing other faiths/faithless.
As the roman church's reach extended and power grew so too did the inquisition's authority. from policing the priesthood, to policing the entire church, to policing all of europe. The most vicious arm of the Inquisition was the Spanish Branch, which owed feality not to the Pope, but answered directly to the King of Spain, and therefore enforced both doctrinal law, and royal decrees. It also had no papal oversight, allowing The Spanish Inquisition and it's leader Torquamada to do things to people that even the rest of The Inquisition found shocking and appaling.
The Protestants split further, some groups backed by kings, others by rebel nobles. Henry the 8th is an excellent example of how royality played politics with both sides of the reformation. this resulted in the hundred years war, which was more political than religous. otherwise why would moments like "cathloic spain needed to be bribed by cathloic france to assist Prostistant German forces against Protistant Denmark." keep cropping up?
Meanwhile in the East, Islam began to, for the first time, come togeather as a single faith, with one single version of the koran as opposed to thousands of smaller ones from village to village. The Islamic Golden age however had ended, power and wealth slowly trickling back to europe, with many arabic lords actually benifeting from the reformation, because the pope could no longer prevent the europeans from trading with Arabs. the tastes the crusaders brought home with them created a massive market for arab and asian goods, and the Arabic lords were happy to fill this void for an exorbant fee.
a pound of Pepper from india cost literally it's weight in gold at a few points.
The ottoman turks benifeted from this greatly, eventually giving them enough power to overcome both other islamic forces and the weakened byzantine empire, creating one of the largest land empires on the planet. it was an empire encompassing many faiths, races, and languages, and was the world standard for tolerance up untill the modern age.
However this power and glory brought stagnation and complacancy, The Ottoman Goverment after Suliman the Great never acheved any further glory and began to sink into stagnation and rot.
America was discovered, and europeans found new trade routes that bypassed ottoman lands, the empire's instution's calcified and began to slowly die.
The center of Orthodox Christan power moved north into Russa with the distruction of the Byzantine empire, and stayed there largely keeping pace with the Roman church, however it's status as subservant to the Czar, and the relitive backwaterness of russia at the time kept an orthodox split from occuring.
Far-Eastern faiths were largely unaffected, however they began to rely more and more on mysticisim and superstision rather than the reasoning theology that had made china and other far eastern states the most advanced in the world. this is why when europeans introdouced The Chinese Emperor to the pocketwatch he never realized his own ancestors had invented a simmilar divice 500 years ago.
During the industrial revoloution Churches began to take up causes, there is a lot of stuff to list, and quite frankly my hands are starting to hurt from all the typing, and I am faling asleep at the keyboard.