How the Reformation Happened
How the Reformation Happened, by Hilaire Belloc
In this famous and surprising book, the celebrated Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc provides the true, largely untold story that answers a critical historical question about Western civilization: How did Christendom come to suffer shipwreck in the Protestant Reformation?
Noting first that this momentous question has been largely invisible to Protestant and secular historians, Belloc demonstrates that the Protestant movement was by no means the culmination of a long, natural progress. Rather, it rather was one of six mortal perils that over the centuries threatened to destroy Catholic European civilization. Tragically, it was the only one that failed to be overcome by the Catholic Church.
Belloc readily admits that corruption among churchmen and clerical abuses in the use of Church revenues prepared the way for the flood of revolt. But he uncovers other, more decisive, factors involved in the movement. It was not doctrine, but avarice and rebellion against the clergy, that originally fueled the Protestant Reformation. Combined with certain hostile forms of humanism, a growing contempt for authority, and the perennial "hatred of the Catholic faith," these powerful factors led to the breakup of Catholic unity in the West.
How the Reformation Happened is a cogent explanation of what actually took place in that titanic sixteenth-century upheaval. It is a book that cannot be ignored by anyone who hopes to understand our Western civilization-and to see with clarity where that civilization is now heading as a result of such a revolt.
The great Hilaire Belloc was one of the foremost Catholic historians of the past two centuries. His analysis of the Protestant Reformation sheds important light on how that period of spiritual, social, and political disturbance produced tragic results that have lasted for centuries and are only now finding their full culmination.