The Reformation was the greatest religious movement since the early church. It was a revival of Biblical and New Testament theology. The Reformation officially began in 1517 when Martin Luther challenged the Roman Church on the matter of Indulgences. While Luther had no idea of the impact this would make on the German society and the world, this event changed the course of history.
There had been many attempts to reform the Roman Church before the 16th century, but had always been stopped by the Inquisition. There were also groups outside the church such as the Albigenses and Waldenses. Men such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Gerolamo Savonarola spoke out against the papacy, confession, purgatory, pilgrimages, worship of saints, relics, etc. Huss and Savonarola were burned at the stake as heretics. Rome made some attempts to reform at the Councils of Pisa(1409), Constance(1414-1418) and Basel(1431), but these were not successful. There was also a group within the church called "The Brethren of the Common Life" that came into existence around 1350 for the specific purpose of bringing reform. Some famous men who belonged to this group were John of Wessel, Erasmus and Thomas Kempis.
Religious, economic and political factors that had been going on for centuries set the tone for the Reformation. The papacy was corrupt, mosasticism and scholastic theology had declined, mysticism was on the upswing. The Renaissance was also a factor in that it challenged men to use their minds but it was purely secular and not religious. The Renaissance brought humanism, but the Reformation brought true Christianity. The Protestant Reformation has been sometimes been called a Protestant revolution. The Roman Church controlled everything so it was necessary for the Reformation to include political and economic elements. If Protestants were to survive, they had to have political and economic power to hold off Rome.