The sixteenth-century was a turbulent period for Western Europe (Hammer 3). Both France and Spain, two newly formed Imperial powers, saw Italy as a threat. As a result, France invaded Italy first and Spain followed suit shortly after that. A decade-long power struggle ensued that left much of northern Italy devastated. In 1525, Spain drove France out of Italy and single-handedly concentrated on destroying Italy. In 1527, Spain took its attack on Italy a notch higher when it sent twelve thousand mercenaries to Rome. Within eight days, the solders left the city in ruins. Everything in Rome and the whole of Italy, including artistic life, came to a halt. It appeared as though Spain had destroyed the foundation of the Renaissance culture. Besides the political turmoil, Europe was also experiencing an economic upheaval. More than ever before, political power had become tied to economic power and the political elite had become heavily dependent on bankers (Hammer 3). Thus, when most bankers became bankrupt because of the political upheaval, so did the ruling classes. Social unrest ensued. The unrest encompassed the poor as well as religious and intellectual dissidents. At this time, the influence of religion on people’s lives was heavy. Thus, religion easily became the unifying factor for the various revolutionary forces of the period. At the same time corruption was rampant in the Church and the clergy were considered highly materialistic, accumulating personal wealth at the expense of Christians. It was this period of revolutionary unrest that historians later termed the Protestant Reformation or Protestantism (Hammer 3).
In essence, Protestantism was a period of spiritual rebirth (Sokstad and Cothren 633). Throughout Western Europe, and especially in Italy, idealists and intellectuals were preoccupied with the notions of anti-materialism, a direct