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I don’t think I’m really adding to knowledge here, but it always comes as rather a shock to students that Luther didn’t simply spring out of the virgin earth as the ‘inventor’ of calls for reform of the Church. It says something, I presume, about the success of post-Reformation movements in discourse, casting everything that was thought or done before about 1500 (excepting, perhaps, the composition of the Bible) into superstitious and ignorant darkness. However, this is not the time or place for me to get started on a rant about that!

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I prepared a lovely and offensively vibrant handout for my students to illustrate, if not the entire (pre)history of reform, then at least some of the major points that should, I hope, enable them to contextualize the Reformation somewhat more securely. They hadn’t had the Schism in lectures, for instance, so reading from Nicholas of Cusa about the powers of councils to constrain popes rather flummoxed them until I did my ‘well, you know there were three popes at one point?’ gag. It’s the history tutor’s equivalent to the stand up comic’s fall-back oneliner. Always gets a reaction.

I’m putting this handout here not with any significant purpose in mind, but mostly just because I’m rather proud of my design efforts, and given how many hours it took me to construct, it may as well have an appreciative audience. Click through for the full hypercoloured glory. Enjoy!

What’s not to love about a brief history of Reformation in a multicoloured flowchart? Hint: start at the top left! Text & Design © Kathleen Neal.

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I teach and research at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies in the School of Philosophical, Historial and International Studies, Monash University (Australia). Views expressed here are my own and not representative of the CMRS, SOPHIS or Monash.

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