Around 1500, during the Renaissance, there was a movement to reform the Catholic Church. Why did the church need reform? Some leaders in the church demanded that people donate land, jewelry and money to the church as penance for sins people had committed. Everyone had to pay for the sacraments. The church demanded so much food, goods, and money that people had little left to feed their families. But the church had a great deal of power. People believed if they did not give and give, they would not go to heaven when they died.
Many priests and bishops saw the church getting rich, while people starved. They began looking for ways to change and reform the church. One monk, Martin Luther, began a protest. It was a dangerous thing to do, but he was so unhappy with the way the Catholic Church was doing things that he risked his life to speak out. Many people agreed with him and adopted his ideas.
Martin Luther believed that people could not buy their sins away, and that only God could pardon sins, not the Church. He believed that people were naturally sinful and that they should atone for their bad deeds by doing good deed. He also believed that priests should be subject to the law, just like everyone else. Many people in the Catholic Church agreed with him. His followers were called Protestants. But many other people remained loyal to the Catholic Church. This led to a split in the church.
Martin Luther did not want a peaceful solution. He called the Catholic Church "rotten", and called on his followers to wage war if necessary to force change. The Reformation sparked over one hundred years of war in Europe, with fighting between Catholics and Protestants. Both sides thought they were right. Both sides thought the other side was the work of the devil. The outcome was two major groups in Christianity, each with their own way of doing things, and their own beliefs - Protestants and Catholics.