The European Reformations

THL132 / THL419

This subject begins with an overview of fifteenth-century Western Christianity and society, emphasising the impact of scholasticism, Christian humanism and nascent nationalism. It then explores: the reformations in continental Europe and reform movements within Roman Catholicism; the radical reformations, inquisitions and the plight of religious minorities; English and Scottish reformations from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I; Puritan influence; and the Stuart, Commonwealth and Restoration settlements. Consistent attention is given throughout the subject to the broader context of early modern Europe and its interaction with the wider world, as well as socio-cultural issues such as gender and sexuality, death, witchcraft and moral discipline. Finally, attention is given to the reformations long-term legacies to the present day.


One Semester


Semester 2 every year

Subject Points




Delivery Mode

On site at St Francis College Milton




The Long European Reformation: Religion, Political Conflict, and the Search for Conformity 1350-1750, 2nd ed. / Peter G. Wallace, 2012. [ISBN: 9780230574830]

Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 / Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2004. [ISBN: 9780140285345]


The English Reformation, 2nd ed. / A.G. Dickens, 1989. [ISBN: 9780713469240]
Please ensure that you purchase the second edition.

Prescribed Texts

To be notified by CSU staff in Canberra.



This subject will cover the following topics:

  • The context of late medieval Christendom: tensions and crises in the Western Church by 1500 CE; Wyclif and Hus; Erasmus, scholasticism and Christian humanism

  • Luther, the German Reformation and Lutheran movements in northern Europe

  • Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin and the progress of Reformed Protestantism

  • Changes in Roman Catholicism: reform, reaction and revival

  • The radical reformations and religious minorities

  • Religion, society and politics in Britain from the Tudors to the Stuarts

  • Puritanism and nonconformity in early modern Britain

  • The character and consequences of the Elizabethan, Stuart, Commonwealth and Restoration religious settlements

  • The character and consequences of the wars of religion and religious settlements in Europe

  • Patterns of life: death, gender, sexuality, the family and witchcraft in the Reformation period

  • The long-term legacies and worldwide impact of the reformations

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate a broad and coherent knowledge of the diverse political, intellectual and social contexts of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century reform movements;

  • be able to critically review and analyse the contribution of major figures in these movements;

  • be able to analyse and critically evaluate a range of views on controversial issues relating to theology, sacraments and church-state relations;

  • be able to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the successive settlements of religion in Britain;

  • be able to critically review and analyse the role of minority religious movements during this period;

  • be able to articulate aspects of Protestant and Roman Catholic thought, life and culture in the early modern period;

  • be able to critically review and analyse the contribution of historians and historiographical perspectives from a variety of denominational and historical contexts; and

  • be able to demonstrate self-guided and collaborative learning, including basic research, writing and communication skills relevant to history as a discipline.