The more immediate background for the Age of Reformation includes factors which precede Luther by a Century and more. While the reformers themselves felt that these factors had roots in first century Christian history and literature, more directly relevant to the movement were political, social, and economic changes which produced severe tensions in the late medieval world. Some of these contributed significantly to the Protestant upheaval. Still more important, however, were diverse streams of religious ferment, such as late medieval scholasticism, mysticism, humanism, heretical propaganda , and anti-clericalism, which flowed toward a junction in the Reformation. While it must be insisted that it took dynamic personalities to trigger this movement, we must remember that these great figures were influenced by the ideas of their environment. These earlier streams of ferment may properly be called the prelude to reform. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "1. Prelude to Reform. Pt. VII: The Protestant Movement." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 1-6.