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Martin Luther and the 95 Theses
By: History.com Editors
Updated: June 6, 2019 | Original: October 29, 2009
Born in Eisleben, Germany, in 1483, Martin Luther went on to become one of Western history’s most significant figures. Luther spent his early years in relative anonymity as a monk and scholar. But in 1517 Luther penned a document attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve sin. His “95 Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation. Although these ideas had been advanced before, Martin Luther codified them at a moment in history ripe for religious reformation. The Catholic Church was ever after divided, and the Protestantism that soon emerged was shaped by Luther’s ideas. His writings changed the course of religious and cultural history in the West.
Martin Luther (1483–1546) was born in Eisleben, Saxony (now Germany), part of the Holy Roman Empire, to parents Hans and Margaretta. Luther’s father was a prosperous businessman, and when Luther was young, his father moved the family of 10 to Mansfeld. At age five, Luther began his education at a local school where he learned reading, writing and Latin. At 13, Luther began to attend a school run by the Brethren of the Common Life in Magdeburg. The Brethren’s teachings focused on personal piety, and while there Luther developed an early interest in monastic life.
Did you know? Legend says Martin Luther was inspired to launch the Protestant Reformation while seated comfortably on the chamber pot. That cannot be confirmed, but in 2004 archeologists discovered Luther's lavatory, which was remarkably modern for its day, featuring a heated-floor system and a primitive drain.
Martin Luther Enters the Monastery
But Hans Luther had other plans for young Martin—he wanted him to become a lawyer—so he withdrew him from the school in Magdeburg and sent him to new school in Eisenach. Then, in 1501, Luther enrolled at the University of Erfurt, the premiere university in Germany at the time. There, he studied the typical curriculum of the day: arithmetic, astronomy, geometry and philosophy and he attained a Master’s degree from the school in 1505. In July of that year, Luther got caught in a violent thunderstorm, in which a bolt of lightning nearly struck him down. He considered the incident a sign from God and vowed to become a monk if he survived the storm. The storm subsided, Luther emerged unscathed and, true to his promise, Luther turned his back on his study of the law days later on July 17, 1505. Instead, he entered an Augustinian monastery.
Luther began to live the spartan and rigorous life of a monk but did not abandon his studies. Between 1507 and 1510, Luther studied at the University of Erfurt and at a university in Wittenberg. In 1510–1511, he took a break from his education to serve as a representative in Rome for the German Augustinian monasteries. In 1512, Luther received his doctorate and became a professor of biblical studies. Over the next five years Luther’s continuing theological studies would lead him to insights that would have implications for Christian thought for centuries to come.
Martin Luther Questions the Catholic Church
In early 16th-century Europe, some theologians and scholars were beginning to question the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was also around this time that translations of original texts—namely, the Bible and the writings of the early church philosopher Augustine—became more widely available.
Augustine (340–430) had emphasized the primacy of the Bible rather than Church officials as the ultimate religious authority. He also believed that humans could not reach salvation by their own acts, but that only God could bestow salvation by his divine grace. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church taught that salvation was possible through “good works,” or works of righteousness, that pleased God. Luther came to share Augustine’s two central beliefs, which would later form the basis of Protestantism.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church’s practice of granting “indulgences” to provide absolution to sinners became increasingly corrupt. Indulgence-selling had been banned in Germany, but the practice continued unabated. In 1517, a friar named Johann Tetzel began to sell indulgences in Germany to raise funds to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The 95 Theses
Committed to the idea that salvation could be reached through faith and by divine grace only, Luther vigorously objected to the corrupt practice of selling indulgences. Acting on this belief, he wrote the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “The 95 Theses,” a list of questions and propositions for debate. Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The reality was probably not so dramatic; Luther more likely hung the document on the door of the church matter-of-factly to announce the ensuing academic discussion around it that he was organizing.
The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing. The overall thrust of the document was nonetheless quite provocative. The first two of the theses contained Luther’s central idea, that God intended believers to seek repentance and that faith alone, and not deeds, would lead to salvation. The other 93 theses, a number of them directly criticizing the practice of indulgences, supported these first two.
In addition to his criticisms of indulgences, Luther also reflected popular sentiment about the “St. Peter’s scandal” in the 95 Theses:
Why does not the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?
The 95 Theses were quickly distributed throughout Germany and then made their way to Rome. In 1518, Luther was summoned to Augsburg, a city in southern Germany, to defend his opinions before an imperial diet (assembly). A debate lasting three days between Luther and Cardinal Thomas Cajetan produced no agreement. Cajetan defended the church’s use of indulgences, but Luther refused to recant and returned to Wittenberg.
Luther the Heretic
On November 9, 1518 the pope condemned Luther’s writings as conflicting with the teachings of the Church. One year later a series of commissions were convened to examine Luther’s teachings. The first papal commission found them to be heretical, but the second merely stated that Luther’s writings were “scandalous and offensive to pious ears.” Finally, in July 1520 Pope Leo X issued a papal bull (public decree) that concluded that Luther’s propositions were heretical and gave Luther 120 days to recant in Rome. Luther refused to recant, and on January 3, 1521 Pope Leo excommunicated Martin Luther from the Catholic Church.
On April 17, 1521 Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms in Germany. Refusing again to recant, Luther concluded his testimony with the defiant statement: “Here I stand. God help me. I can do no other.” On May 25, the Holy Roman emperor Charles V signed an edict against Luther, ordering his writings to be burned. Luther hid in the town of Eisenach for the next year, where he began work on one of his major life projects, the translation of the New Testament into German, which took him 10 months to complete.
Martin Luther's Later Years
Luther returned to Wittenberg in 1521, where the reform movement initiated by his writings had grown beyond his influence. It was no longer a purely theological cause; it had become political. Other leaders stepped up to lead the reform, and concurrently, the rebellion known as the Peasants’ War was making its way across Germany.
Luther had previously written against the Church’s adherence to clerical celibacy, and in 1525 he married Katherine of Bora, a former nun. They had five children. At the end of his life, Luther turned strident in his views, and pronounced the pope the Antichrist, advocated for the expulsion of Jews from the empire and condoned polygamy based on the practice of the patriarchs in the Old Testament.
Luther died on February 18, 1546.
Significance of Martin Luther’s Work
Martin Luther is one of the most influential figures in Western history. His writings were responsible for fractionalizing the Catholic Church and sparking the Protestant Reformation. His central teachings, that the Bible is the central source of religious authority and that salvation is reached through faith and not deeds, shaped the core of Protestantism. Although Luther was critical of the Catholic Church, he distanced himself from the radical successors who took up his mantle. Luther is remembered as a controversial figure, not only because his writings led to significant religious reform and division, but also because in later life he took on radical positions on other questions, including his pronouncements against Jews, which some have said may have portended German anti-Semitism; others dismiss them as just one man’s vitriol that did not gain a following. Some of Luther’s most significant contributions to theological history, however, such as his insistence that as the sole source of religious authority the Bible be translated and made available to everyone, were truly revolutionary in his day.
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Continuity and Change Over Time in the AP Histories
24 min read • may 15, 2022
The one thing you need to know about this historical reasoning skill:
College Board Description
Reasoning processes describe the cognitive operations that students will be required to apply when engaging with the historical thinking skills on the AP Exam. The reasoning processes ultimately represent the way practitioners think in the discipline. Specific aspects of the cognitive process are defined under each reasoning process.
Identify patterns of continuity and/or change over time.
Describe patterns of continuity and/or change over time.
Explain the relative historical significance of specific historical developments in relation to a larger pattern of continuity and/or change.
How have individuals and societies changed over time and how have they stayed the same? Why?
Continuities and Change Over Time
How have you changed since you were younger? This is a pretty easy question. You have physically grown, you matured both academically and socially, and you found new hobbies, interests and activities that are age-appropriate. Historians look for change over time. We look for how societies became wealthier, how empires fell, and the roles of different social groups changed.
However, how have you stayed the same since you were younger? Asking about continuities in your personality and your life is harder. Continuities are not as obvious. Some still have a love for Star Wars movies while others will always want to play a pick-up game of basketball. Historians look for continuities over time. We look for how religion continued to play a role in peoples’ lives, how societies continued to be patriarchal, and how ideas like liberty and freedom persist.
When students study world history, they study the changes and continuities over time (CCOT). AP World History has had a rich history of asking students to write CCOT essays and use the skills in attacking stimulus-based multiple-choice questions.
Period 1 (1200 to 1450)
⚡ Increase of trade along the Silk Road because of Mongol conquests and because of new stable powers
The Mongols were a nomadic tribe originating from modern day Mongolia who quickly spanned across nearly all of Eurasia, stretching from the Middle East to the eastern coast of China. In fact, the only places that were successful in fighting off the Mongols were Japan (who were aided by frequent typhoons) and India. Though short lived, an important effect of the Mongol Empire was the reunification of the Silk Roads. Prior to 1200, the Silk Roads were generally dangerous and not as prosperous as growing sea trade like in the Indian Ocean. However, the Mongols unified the Silk Roads and made it safer and easier for them to navigate.
The Mongols created Pax Mongolica or Peace of the Mongols. Trade was protected from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea. Cities like Samarkand emerged built upon trade and routes like the Trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean Trade Networks were all linked.
⚡New technologies spread like astrolabe and magnetic compass increasing exploration and trade
As empires like the Abbasid Caliphate grew across the Middle East and China grew in East Asia, new technologies were created explicitly for the functions of trade and navigation. The astrolabe , created in the Islamic World, aided travelers in using the stars to navigate (Fun fact, you can still buy astrolabes today! Though they are a bit pricey).
The Baghdad House of Wisdom is a famous example of academics and intellectualism in Dar-al-Islam, such as new innovations in algebra and trigonometry. Similarly, Song China saw a boom in innovation and new products. New forms of paper grew, leading to flying money , which we’ll discuss later, and most importantly the magnetic compass became a commonly used navigational tool.
Maritime trade growth during the period 1200 - 1450 fueled most of the technological innovation. New boats became widespread along sea trade routes. Arab dhows were ships with triangular lateen sails that were widespread in the Islamic world. Similarly, Chinese junks were small ships that traveled west from China.
⚡Buddhism spread and morphed from Northern India to Tibet, China, Southeast Asia, and Japan
Though it started in Northern India around 600 BCE, Buddhism eventually spread over the Himalayan Mountains traveling along trade routes and by various missionaries to other Asian lands. However, each region will impact the eventual form of Buddhism thus Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism emerge.
Many comparisons can be drawn between Buddhism and Christianity, which are both religions that spread throughout this period. For example, Christianity is a proselytizing religion, which means it seeks out converts, whereas Buddhism is not. Buddhism and Christianity also both saw significant cultural diffusion and cultural blending during this time period.
⚡The Aztecs and Inca emerged as large empires in Mesoamerica and South America, respectfully
Before their eventual conquest by the Spanish Conquistadors, the Aztecs and Inca were large, thriving empires that united the peoples of Mesoamerica and South America politically, economically, and socially. While the Aztecs and Inca empires were large, complex political structures that we cannot do justice in just a few short paragraphs, there are some must-know things about the Aztecs and Incas.
The Aztecs are known especially for their architecture, such as pyramids and sacrificial/monumental architecture. They also had chinampas , large island-like farmlands that floated on water. Politically, the empire used the tribute system , where smaller conquered areas paid tribute for protection.
The Incas used the mita system , a system established by the Inca Empire in order to construct buildings or create roads throughout the empire. It was later transformed into a coercive labor system when the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire. They’re also well known for their terrace agriculture such as the stunning Machu Picchu .
⚡ Economic powers emerged like Mali Kingdom and Delhi Sultanate
Regions that lay outside Christiandom and Dar al-Islam are uniting politically, economically, and socially. The Mali Kingdom and Delhi Sultanate were both wealthy and powerful empires that saw Islam as a uniting factor.
In fact, Mali was one of the most wealthy nations in all of history, with Mansa Musa , a Mali king, being the most wealthy person in all of human history. Mali and it’s capital city Timbuktu unified the Sahara and created the Trans-Saharan Trade Route.
⚡ Trade saw new economic and financial developments
As a result of the growth of interregional trade, new financial tools were created to aid in the transfer of goods across borders. Paper money , nicknamed “flying money” was a new innovation that came from China. Further, credit became a new tool of borrowing money that aided in financial asset growth.
🔗China continued to be largely a Confucian society
Confucianism has had a large influence on the culture of China since before the Qin Dynasty. Between its influence on social structure such as filial piety and political structure such as the Five Relationships, no other philosophy has so impacted China. Confucianism emphasized education and a strong bureaucracy for the Chinese government, leading to a unique political structure.
The Civil Service Exam system from the Qin Dynasty was strengthened in Tang / Song China enabling a bureaucracy built on merit and not necessary hereditary lines to develop. However, while meritocratic in theory , wealth allowed people to get tutors and special classes to learn the tests, leading to social stratification still.
🔗Patriarchy remained a strong social force across the globe
Throughout history, one of the most consistent social forces has been patriarchy . In this time period, despite there being some advances in women’s rights, specifically in the Islamic world, patriarchy continued to place men above women in the social pyramid.
Patriarchy is one of the most important continuities throughout history, and will follow social structures not just in the post-classical era, but in essentially every part of history that you learn.
🔗Trade continued to be the primary form of economic interaction
Trade saw many changes during this time period, as we’ve outlined above, but nevertheless, comparing the post-classical era to the classical era, trade continued to form the basis.
Period 2 (1450-1750)
⚡ Western Europe faced the Protestant Reformation seeing the rise of regional Christian churches and the power of the Roman Catholic Church decrease
Martin Luther challenged the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Christianity. He promoted a more personal relationship with God and the word . From his 95 Theses , will come a radical shift in European Christianity. Luther found the Catholic policy of indulgences to be the primary signal of corruption within the church, along with a host of other issues.
New Protestant Churches emerger like the Lutheran and the Church of England while religious wars also inflame France and Germany. Other churches and sects of Christianity, like the Calvinists, will see expansions into the Americas in the 1600s. Religious wars like the Thirty Years’ War sprung up across Europe as well.
⚡ Weakening of the Roman Catholic Church occurs throughout this era with the Reformation, Scientific Revolution, and Enlightenment increasing the popularity of humanism and empiricism
The Protestant Reformation was aided by the Scientific Revolution , a movement that helped spawn higher intellectualism in Europe (though it must be noted that many of the discoveries of the Sci. Rev. either had been discovered or were aided by discoveries that had been made in the Islamic World in previous years). Important developments were advancements in physics, biology, and the development of the formal scientific method . Scientists like Copernicus and Galileo were important astronomers who helped prove astronomical facts regarding orbits.
The Enlightenment came a bit after the Scientific Revolution, with the Enlightenment being more of a philosophical movement rather than strictly a scientific one (though science was still part!). The Enlightenment brought with it many philosophies that we still reference today such as capitalism , formally coined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations , and new political theories like the separation of powers (Montesquieu), the social contract (Rousseau), and natural rights of life, liberty, and property (John Locke). The Enlightenment marked a shift in philosophy from religiosity to more of a secular form of thinking such as rationalism and empiricism .
⚡ Islamic world of Dar al-Islam expanded into large land-based empires that stretched from Europe through South Asia converting people, increasing trade connections, and forming new syncretic beliefs
The Ottoman Empire, Safavid Dynasty, and Mughal Empire all developed strong land-based empires that brought people of different languages and faiths together while also strengthening their unity under Islam. The spread of these empires was very much so due to guns , which were a new invention created after the creation of gunpowder in Song China. For example, the Ottoman Empire was able to blast through the walls of Constantinople to easily take over in 1453.
These empires developed complex political and social structures such as the Devshirme system that created janissaries . This system took Christian boys, converted them, and turned them into a large fighting force for the Ottoman Empire. An important comparison to make is religious. The Ottoman Empire was mostly Sunni Islam, the Safavids were Shia Islam, and the Mughals were Sikhism, a syncretic religion that blended Hinduism and Islam. These empires commonly fought and competed for power, such as in the Battle of Chaldiran . Chaldiran cemented Ottoman rule over eastern Turkey and Mesopotamia and limited Safavid expansion mostly to Persia.
⚡ Major powers in the Americas, like the Iroquois, Aztec and Inca, are conquered by Europeans and led to new labor and economic systems
Beginning with Columbus in 1492 and eventually with Cortez and Pizarro, the American indigenous people were conquered by the French, English and the Spanish. Jared Diamond points out in Guns, Germs, and Steel that the Natives lacked the technology and ability to defend from disease to effectively fight back. New labor systems began to be used, some coerced, such as the encomienda and mit’a systems and eventually the use of chattel slavery , with the first slaves landing on the mainland Americas in 1619. African slaves and Native Americans were used primarily for the cultivation of cash crops , which were able to be made the most profitable crops on Earth. These crops, such as sugar led to new emphasis on coerced labor.
⚡ The Atlantic System will see trade increase between the Americas, Europe and Africa and will cause increase in slave trade, especially African corvee slavery
With the introduction of sugar cane to Brazil and the Caribbean, a new trade system emerges. Africans were ruthlessly brought from Africa to be slaves in the Americas where they were used to harvest sugar cane. The sugar, molasses, and rum made from the sugar cane in North America is then sold to Europe for manufacturing. These finished goods, like guns, were traded for slaves with the coastal slave kingdoms in Africa. This system is known as the triangular trade and forms the primary economic systems in this time period.
⚡ The Columbian Exchange will see the movement of food, animals, people, and disease.
The Columbian Exchange was arguably one of the most important events of not just this time period, but in all of world history, and is a term you MUST be familiar with. The Columbian Exchange describes the diffusion of people, food, animals, and notably disease across the Atlantic Ocean both from Europe to the Americas and from the Americas to Europe. Some important things that transferred were smallpox , which killed off some 90% of the Native population, horses , which became a staple in the Americas, cash crops like sugar and tobacco , and then from the Americas, potatoes, which increased the nutrition and lifespan of the average European.
The Columbian Exchange connected the Eastern and Western Hemispheres and created a formally globalized world. The Columbian exchange single handedly caused many of the changes we’ve discussed.
⚡ Maritime empires emerged as the Portuguese and Dutch created port city empires and the French and British developed large colonies around the world Mercantilism and capitalism emerged as states, businesses, and individuals sought wealth by conquest and new forms of business ventures like joint-stock companies
Unlike the mostly land based empires of the post-classical era, the early modern era was marked by maritime empires, that is, empires that were spread overseas. These typically had imperial metropoles in Europe, such as the British Empire, which had colonies in the Americas and India, the Dutch Empire, that had territory in India and the Philippines, and Portugal and Spain, which had had territories in what is today Latin America.
These empires consolidated power and developed strong economic and financial tools such as joint-stock companies to grow. Companies like the British East India Company and Dutch East India Company became some of the largest companies on earth. Mercantilism became the name of the game economically speaking
⚡ New social structures emerged in Latin America as Spanish, Native Americans, and Africans of pure and mix-blood formed new social castes
The casta system saw Peninsulares (European-born Europeans), Creoles (American-born European descent), Mestizos (Mix European-Native), Mulatoes (Mix European-African), Natives , and Africans hold a strict socio-economic order based on the level of mix-blood. This was the first time in history that a social order was created strictly based off of race. This created a paradigm that continued through nearly all of world history from this point on.
🔗Western Europe continued to be largely Christian with powerful monarchies
Though the Roman Catholic Church’s power diminished, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians continued to be active members of society. In general, Europe will see Christianity rule as the reigning religion, and Catholicism will see power ebb and flow throughout this time. Of course, there were some challenges to religion, especially in the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, but overall religion will still play a HUGE role in the lives of Europeans.
🔗Land-based empires dominated much of this era from Qing China, Mughal India, Safavid Persia, Ottoman Middle East, and Russia
The new technologies like gunpowder and the unifying force of religion allowed these societies to create empires over vast-areas and for hundreds of years. Though there was conflict, this era can also be measured by the stability of the states. Land empires, despite the growth of maritime empires, continued to have power. The Russian Tsarist Empire grew into the largest land empire in this time period, even going through westernization through Peter the Great . These empires will play a large role in expansion and imperialism in the next time period.
🔗Most societies continue the tradition of patriarchy politically, economically, socially, and culturally.
The Ottoman Janissaries were men, the Qing scholar-gentry were men, and the House of Lords in the English Parliament were men. Though some opportunities existed for women to earn economic and political power, it lacked any sort of consistency.
Period 3 (1750-1900)
⚡ The Industrial Revolution begins in Western Europe and spreads around the world by 1900
England, with its navigable rivers and wealth of coal deposits, was first to experience the Industrial Revolution. Naturally, Western Europe and the United States also began to thrive because of their connection to the Atlantic trade network. However, empires like Russia, Japan, Ottoman, and Qing were forced to industrialize in order to continue to be politically and economically relevant.
Between the 1700s and mid to late 1800s, the first Industrial Revolution focused on steam power (see Watt’s steam engine from the 1770s) and the transition in economics based around the cottage industry to a new use in factories and mills based off of rivers. Industrialization led to new economic theories such as laissez-faire capitalism and Marxism . Through the first Industrial Revolution, new social classes such as the middle class and industrial working class developed. Governments took specific roles in industrialization as well, such as the Meiji Era changes in Japan and Westernization efforts to avoid imperialism such as the Tanzimat Reforms and Self-Strengthening Movement .
The second Industrial Revolution focused on steel, chemicals, electricity, and precision machinery. Processes like the Bessemer process led to the growth of technology like railroads, mass manufacturing, automobiles, and the assembly line. Social stratification became a significant issue during this time as well.
⚡ The Industrial Revolution causes increased urbanization and diverse economic classes stratification
Cities like Birmingham, England were very attractive to those looking for non-skilled work. As wealth increased its impact on stratification , religion decreased its role. Working class and middle class families living in a city had opportunities for economic advancement, though slow, compared to the rural peasant / farmers. Socioeconomic movements such as Marxism grew, noting social inequities as a result of capitalism and industrialization.
Cities, while growing, were often dangerous and dirty for the lower classes. For example, London was a smog filled, dirty city that was riddled with political corruption and social stratification between the rich and the poor.
Unionization also became a key staple of urban areas as skilled workers formed unions to protect themselves from unfair policies. For example, the Industrial Workers of the World and American Federation of Labor became large groups that promoted better conditions for workers. They helped to lead to higher wages, better working conditions, and better hours for workers.
⚡ Corvee slavery and serfdom will decrease their role in the Americas and Russia, respectfully
Paid labor was cheaper than maintaining room and board for slaves and serfs and the urban impact of industrialization meant that a constant flow of cheap labor can easily be tapped. As the world transitioned from an economy surrounded by cash crops and mercantilism to a capitalistic industrial world, paid skilled workers became a more effective form of labor as opposed to slaves and serfs who mostly worked in agriculture.
Furthermore, as the Enlightenment spread, slavery and serfdom became seen as immoral in general, with slavery being abolished across most of the world by 1900 and serfdom being abolished from Russia
⚡ Enlightenment thought and fragile social orders will lead to independence movements throughout the Americas and nationalist movements in Europe
Through European colonial powers and merchants, the Enlightenment found their way to the Americas as most of these people became independent by the early 1820s. Revolutions inspired by the Enlightenment became a key sequence of events during the period 1750 - 1900. Specifically, the American Revolution marked the first major revolution that occurred through Enlightenment principles. This quickly led to revolutions in France starting in 1789 and Haiti between 1800 - 1803. Revolutions in Latin America led by Simón Bolívar led to many new independent states in Latin America. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence , Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen , and the Jamaica Letter
⚡ Nations began expanding more than ever through the process of imperialism
While nations had been expanding from Europe since the Columbian Exchange, industrialization led to a stronger form of territorial imperialism , especially in Africa and Asia. The Berlin Conference of 1884 had Europeans split up Africa into pieces to use for raw materials and access to more markets (M&Ms). Africans were mostly abused for labor, such as in the Belgian Congo , where Africans who did not collect enough rubber had their hands amputated.
To justify imperialism, nations used philosophies such as social Darwinism and the idea of the White Man’s Burden (see Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”). These racist ideas put down imperial subjects and justified mistreatment as helping them. Political comics from this era, such as the soap advertisement below, portrayed this.
Reactions to imperialism were many, such as the Tanzimat Reforms and Self-Strengthening Movement in the Ottoman Empire and Qing China. Revolts such as the Sepoy Revolt and the Ghost Dance occurred as well, though many times they were violent and unsuccessful. Wars such as the Anglo-Zulu War and the Boer War also occurred.
🔗Monarchies continue to play a role around the world
Though the British and French monarchies saw their power decrease and the Americas tended to stay away from hereditary claims, Russia and Japan continued to solidify their power with strong monarchies. Power structures in the modern era typically were marked by either monarchies or emperors, with constitutional monarchs coming in through revolutions. Monarchies in Europe such as that under Queen Victoria in England and King Leopold II in Belgium played roles in expansion under imperialism. Imperial powers such as the Ottoman Empire and Qing China still had emperors as well. Democracy, however, saw spreads throughout this time period.
🔗Even with challenges to the norm, most societies continued the tradition of patriarchy politically, economically, socially, and culturally
Women were gaining economic opportunities in many western nations however traditional lacked the ability to vote or hold a high office in the church. Voting rights are still limited to land-owning males in nations that have not seen an increase in the middle-class while women’s suffrage comes in the 20th Century. Feminist movements led by people like Mary Wollstonecraft in the early part of this period and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Olympe de Gouge by the end leading into the 20th century did occur, though they did not see much significant success until the 20th century.
🔗Raw materials such as spices, cotton, and coal continue to play a large role in domestic, regional, and global trade
As imperialism and industrialization took hold during this time period, raw materials continued to be a significant area of trade and production.
Period 4 (1900-Today)
⚡ Rapid advances in science lead to new medicines spreading (polio vaccine), new communications (Internet), new sources of power (nuclear), and new transportation (planes)
Science, now with government and religion, was a driving force of change in human society. The birth control pill allowed family planning, the Internet changed the purchasing process, and the world is more globalized than it has ever been. Medical advancements such as vaccines and by the 1970s the eradication of smallpox led to overall higher global life expectancies. Technology also brought with it new forms of communications like the aforementioned internet, along with telephones , radios , and televisions . Disease played a large role in this time period. Diseases associated with poverty such as malaria and TB persisted, but diseases associated with lifestyles such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease grew.
⚡ Green Revolution and commercial agriculture will allow a population explosion and largely eradicate extreme hunger
The Green Revolution was a process by which new technology was implemented to boost food production. It is marked by a use of biological and organic methods to boost food production such as genetically modified organisms ( GMOs ). GMOs plants, animals or microorganisms whose genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. They were used to boost production and help food production rise during this time period. The Green Revolution brought up concerns about global climate change and the relationship between humans and the environment.
⚡ Environmental concerns increase as the developing world industrializes, agri-business use more land, and the global population increases
As scientific technology, especially technology related to farming and agri-business, humans began breaking down the environment around them, leading to things like global climate change and desertification . Deforestation also became a significant concern as humans continued to cut down forests, especially in the Amazon Rainforest, to attain more land for development. Rainforests being removed for grazing, pesticides poisoning crops and bee populations shows the challenges humanity has with the science it created.
⚡ Globalization seen in various forms like trade (multinational corporations like Coca Cola), epidemics (1918 flu, ebola, AIDS), and immigration of people and ideas
Globalization refers to the technological, political, economic, financial, and cultural exchanges between peoples and nations that have made and continue to make the world a more interconnected and interdependent place. Globalization is an important development that changed essentially everything about the world during this time period. Prior to the 20th century and the global conflict that came with it in the first half, the world, while certainly connected, was still mostly split into individual nations that did not work together on a large scale. As communication increased in the 20th century, globalization became the name of the game.
Economically, multinational corporations became commonplace, such as Coca Cola, or Nike. Economic and political organizations such as the United Nations , World Bank , IMF , and many others popped up as global entities that helped run the entire world. Free trade deals and international trade agreements such as NAFTA , ASEAN , and the European Union . However, there have been negative effects of globalization, such as a separation of the First World , such as the USA and Western Europe, and the developing Third World , sometimes also described as the Global South , in which there is a larger economic disparity between rich and poor countries. Globalization has also brought with it dissemination of epidemic and pandemic diseases such as the 1918 Influenza Pandemic , the Ebola Epidemic , AIDS Crisis , and most recently, the COVID-19 Pandemic .
Culturally, new global pop culture grew, such as reggae , bollywood , the olympics , and the World Cup . People conceptualized society and culture in new ways; rights-based discourses challenged old assumptions about race, class, gender, and religion such as global feminist movements and negritude .
Transnational movements also grew, such as the Quebecois movement in Canada, and Pan-Arabism and Pan-Africanism in Africa and the Middle East.
⚡ Older land-based empires like the Ottomans and Qing Dynasty collapsed.
The Ottomans, the once powerful trading center and Islamic hub, fell as it failed to progress successfully. Following World War I, it quickly fell and under Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, it became Turkey . For years prior, the Ottoman Empire had been named the “sick man of Europe” and despite the Tanzimat Reforms helping somewhat, by taking the side of Germany in the first World War, they quickly dissolved into Turkey.
After thousands of years of imperial rule and dynastic succession, the last Chinese dynasty, the Qing fell in 1911 in the Xinhai Revolution to a nationalist uprising led by Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-shek. Quickly thereafter, the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party rose to power and ran the country until 1949, when Mao Zedong helped form the Chinese Communist Party and take over China.
⚡ Decolonization will see freedom and conflict emerge in nations.
One of the most important aspects of the 20th century was the process of decolonization , in which countries across the globe broke free of their imperial owners and became independent nations. Most notably, decolonization in the 20th century took place in Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
In Africa, decolonization was widespread. In North Africa, such as in Algeria , decolonization was met with violence and the death of 140,000 Algerian soldiers. Elsewhere, decolonization was negotiated, such as protests against apartheid until South Africa’s independence in 1994 under Nelson Mandela . Similarly, after World War II, French West Africa split into many nations such as Guinea, Senegal, Côte D’Ivoire, and Niger.
India is an important example of decolonization that you must know. Led by Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah , India gained its independence through civil disobedience such as the Salt March. However, after succeeding in their goal, Jinnah and the Muslim League , split off into the state of Pakistan , in which heavy border disputes ensued.
In Southeast Asia, the most significant decolonized states were Vietnam and Cambodia . In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh led a violent revolution to overthrow the French, with the French finally losing at Dien Bien Phu. Vietnam quickly became communist and split into South Vietnam and North Vietnam, and the Vietnam War soon followed as part of the Cold War. Cambodia similarly formed a Marxist state and under Pol Pot , the Cambodian Genocide took out any signs of intellectualism.
⚡ Global conflicts over land and political ideologies increase in the first half of the 20th Century
The first major global conflict to occur in this time period was the First World War . After the killing of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente quickly caused the war to escalate from a regional crisis to a world wide war. WWI had MANIA causes: (List Mania Causes). The First World War ended in November of 1918 after the Third Battle of Picardy and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles , which blamed Germany and charged them massive war reparations. World War I also saw new forms of war such as trench warfare and the use of chlorine gas by the Germans.
Following World War I, the interwar years saw massive debt and inflation on the German side caused complete economic collapse. This, compounded by the Great Depression in 1929, contributed to the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933 and the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and the start of World War II. World War II was another major global conflict that involved the Allied Powers and Axis Powers and ended with another German defeat in 1941 after the Battle of the Bulge.
World War II similarly saw the beginning of genocides , the systematic murder of a race of people. Global genocides were relatively common during the 20th century, beginning with the Armenian Genocide during World War I
🔗The process of Westernization continues outside Europe and the United States to Japan, South Korea, Russia, India and beyond
Bollywood emerges as a center for movie making while pop-stars from South Korea thrive in the global market, and cities like Tokyo, Japan look just like New York City with their lights and sounds.
🔗Economic globalization that started with the Silk Road continues on land, sea, and air
Cotton from Georgia is shipped to Bangladesh to be made into a shirt which is then shipped to Hondars to be printed on and then back to the US for retail sail. Hands from three continents played a role in a simple shirt finding it cheaper to move the materials around than find one location to produce the whole item.
Patriarchy and racist beliefs, despite seeing vast improvements, still exist
Full Course Review for AP World History
Watch the AP World History 5-Hour Cram Finale for a comprehensive last minute cram session covering the entire WHAP curriculum including every unit, every time period, and every type of question you will come against during the exam.
Here is a breakdown of the review schedule and timeline:
- 30 min - Overview (Sorting by theme, region, and time periods)
- 1 hour - 1200-1450 CE
- 1 hour - 1450-1750 CE
- 1 hour - 1750-1900 CE
- 1 hour - 1900-Present
- 30 min - Final thoughts (Time management, strategies, and pep talk)
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Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the complete guide to the ap world history exam.
Advanced Placement (AP)
Before you start studying for the AP World History exam, you should get the inside scoop on its format and content. The types of questions you'll see might differ from your expectations. It's especially smart to practice writing essay outlines based on past questions before you're faced with fresh prompts on test day.
In this article, we'll go through the structure, content, and question types on the AP World History exam and provide some helpful tips for acing it !
How Is the AP World History Exam Structured?
The AP World History exam is three hours and 15 minutes and consists of two sections, each of which contains a Part A and a Part B. Here's a basic overview of these sections before we get into the nitty-gritty below:
- Section 1, Part A: Multiple Choice
- Section 1, Part B: Short Answer
- Section 2, Part A: Document-Based Question (DBQ)
- Section 2, Part B: Long Essay
It should be noted that the AP World History exam has undergone some big changes for the 2019-20 school year . Instead of covering thousands of years of human history and development, now it will cover only the years 1200 to the present ; as a result, the exam has been renamed AP World History: Modern (an AP World History: Ancient course and exam are in the works).
Section 1 Format
Section 1 on the AP World History exam lasts a total of 95 minutes and consists of two parts:
- Part A: Multiple Choice
- Part B: Short Answer
This chart shows what you can expect for each part of Section 1 on the World History exam:
Part A lasts 55 minutes and counts for 40% of your total AP World History score. Each question on this part comes with four possible answer choices (labeled A-D). Since there are no penalties for wrong answers, it's in your best interest to fill in an answer for every question.
Most multiple-choice questions come in sets of three to four questions and require you to analyze primary and secondary sources as well as data in the form of graphs, charts, maps, etc.
Part B lasts 40 minutes and counts for 20% of your final AP score. For this section, you must write three short answers (you'll get four prompts in total, but you choose one of two prompts to write on for your third essay). You'll have different sources, or stimuli, for each short-answer prompt:
- Short Answer 1: Includes one secondary source
- Short Answer 2: Includes one primary source
- Short Answer 3/4 (choose one prompt): No stimulus for either option; prompt 3 focuses on the years 1200-1750, while prompt 4 focuses on the years 1750-2001
Section 2 Format
Section 2 on the AP World History test lasts 100 minutes and, like Section 1, consists of two parts:
- Part A: Document-Based Question (DBQ)
- Part B: Long Essay
Here's a brief overview of the format of Section 2 of the World History exam:
Part A in Section 2 lasts one hour and counts for 25% of your total score. For the Document-Based Question, or DBQ, you'll get seven documents offering different viewpoints on a certain historical development. You must write an essay with an argument supported by this historical evidence.
Part B, which is the Long Essay, lasts for just 40 minutes and counts for 15% of your AP score. This part of the test requires you to write a full-fledged essay in response to one of three prompts (you choose which one you want to write on). Unlike the DBQ, you're not given any direct historical evidence to use in your essay; you must come up with it yourself to support your argument.
Here are the three types of prompts you can choose from for the Long Essay:
- Prompt 1: Focuses on the years 1200-1750
- Prompt 2: Focuses on the years 1450-1900
- Prompt 3: Focuses on the years 1750-2001
What Kind of Content Is Covered in AP World History?
Content on the AP World History exam is divided into six overarching themes and nine distinct units . Knowing these categorizations can help you get a better sense of what kinds of historical trends you will be asked to examine (this is especially helpful when writing free-response essays!). The units are roughly divided up into overlapping periods of time.
Below, we introduce the current themes and units, as described in the 2019-20 AP World History: Modern Course and Exam Description .
The 6 Themes in AP World History
Let's start by looking closely at the six major themes covered on the AP World History exam.
Theme 1: Humans and the Environment
The environment shapes human societies, and as populations grow and change, these populations in turn shape their environments.
- Demography and disease
- Patterns of settlement
Theme 2: Cultural Developments and Interactions
The development of ideas, beliefs, and religions illustrates how groups in society view themselves, and the interactions of societies and their beliefs often have political, social, and cultural implications.
- Religions and cultures
- Belief systems, philosophies, and ideologies
- Science and technology
- The arts and architecture
Theme 3: Governance
A variety of internal and external factors contribute to state formation, expansion, and decline. Governments maintain order through a variety of administrative institutions, policies, and procedures, and governments obtain, retain, and exercise power in different ways and for different purposes.
- Political structures and forms of governance
- Nations and nationalism
- Revolts and revolutions
- Regional, transregional, and global structures and organizations
Theme 4: Economic Systems
As societies develop, they affect and are affected by the ways that they produce, exchange, and consume goods and services.
- Agricultural and pastoral production
- Trade and commerce
- Labor systems
- Capitalism and socialism
Theme 5: Social Interactions and Organization
The process by which societies group their members and the norms that govern the interactions between these groups and between individuals influence political, economic, and cultural institutions and organization.
- Gender roles and relations
- Family and kinship
- Racial and ethnic constructions
- Social and economic classes
- Slavery and abolition
Theme 6: Technology and Innovation
Human adaptation and innovation have resulted in increased efficiency, comfort, and security, and technological advances have shaped human development and interactions with both intended and unintended consequences.
- Intellectual innovation
- Transportation technologies and trade
- Modes of production and machinery
The 9 Units in AP World History
Here, we'll go over the nine units of the AP World History course and exam. But before we describe each one in depth, here's a quick overview of how these units are tested:
Source: AP World History Course and Exam Description, 2019-20
Unit 1: The Global Tapestry (1200-1450)
- Developments in East Asia from c. 1200 to c. 1450
- Developments in Dar al-Islam from c. 1200 to c. 1450
- Developments in South and Southeast Asia from c. 1200 to c. 1450
- State Building in the Americas
- State Building in Africa
- Developments in Europe from c. 1200 to c. 1450
- Comparison in the period from c. 1200 to c. 1450
Unit 2: Networks of Exchange (1200-1450)
- The Silk Roads
- The Mongol Empire and the making of the modern world
- Exchange in the Indian Ocean
- Trans-Saharan trade routes
- Cultural consequences of connectivity
- Environmental consequences of connectivity
- Comparison of economic exchange
Unit 3: Land-Based Empires (1450-1750)
- Empires expand
- Empires: administration
- Empires: belief systems
- Comparison in land-based empires
Unit 4: Transoceanic Interconnections (1450-1750)
- Technological innovations from 1450 to 1750
- Exploration: causes and events from 1450 to 1750
- Columbian exchange
- Maritime empires established
- Maritime empires maintained and developed
- Internal and external challenges to state power from 1450 to 1750
- Changing social hierarchies from 1450 to 1750
- Continuity and change from 1450 to 1750
Unit 5: Revolutions (1750-1900)
- The Enlightenment
- Nationalism and revolutions in the period from 1750 to 1900
- Industrial Revolution begins
- Industrialization spreads in the period from 1750 to 1900
- Technology of the Industrial Age
- Industrialization: government's role from 1750 to 1900
- Economic developments and innovations in the Industrial Age
- Reactions to the industrial economy from 1750 to 1900
- Society and the Industrial Age
- Continuity and change in the Industrial Age
Unit 6: Consequences of Industrialization (1750-1900)
- Rationales for imperialism from 1750 to 1900
- State expansion from 1750 to 1900
- Indigenous responses to state expansion from 1750 to 1900
- Global economic development from 1750 to 1900
- Economic imperialism from 1750 to 1900
- Causes of migration in an interconnected world
- Effects of migration
- Causation in the Imperial Age
Unit 7: Global Conflict (1900-Present)
- Shifting power after 1900
- Causes of World War I
- Conducting World War I
- The economy in the interwar period
- Unresolved tensions after World War I
- Causes of World War II
- Conducting World War II
- Mass atrocities after 1900
- Causation in global conflict
Unit 8: Cold War and Decolonization (1900-Present)
- Setting the stage for the Cold War and decolonization
- The Cold War
- Effects of the Cold War
- Spread of communism after 1900
- Decolonization after 1900
- Newly independent states
- Global resistance to established order after 1900
- End of the Cold War
- Causation in the age of the Cold War and decolonization
Unit 9: Globalization (1900-Present)
- Advances in technology and exchange after 1900
- Technological advances and limitations after 1900: disease
- Technological advances: debates about the environment after 1900
- Economics in the Global Age
- Calls for reform and responses after 1900
- Globalized culture after 1900
- Resistance to globalization after 1900
- Institutions developing in a globalized world
- Continuity and change in a globalized world
Sample AP World History Test Questions
Let's go through examples of each of the four types of questions you'll see on the AP World History exam. All sample questions come from the 2019-20 World History Course and Exam Description .
Multiple-Choice Question Example
Most multiple-choice questions come in sets of three to four questions that ask you to respond to a particular source, or stimulus, such as a primary source, a secondary source, or data in the form of a map, chart, or table.
In this sample question, you're being asked to read and interpret two separate passages . You must have background knowledge of economic trends in the late 20th century to be able to select the correct answer here (which is answer choice C ).
Short-Answer Question Example
This short-answer question is accompanied by a secondary source. In each short-answer question on the test, each part (A-C) should only require a one- to two-sentence answer . You'll then get 1 point per correct response (so the max you can earn on one short-answer question is 3 points).
Here's how you could earn full credit for this question, per the official scoring guidelines .
(A) Sample Answers
- Hakuseki's argument was influenced by Confucianism.
- Hakuseki's argument that sovereign is Heaven to the subjects and the father is Heaven to the child was influenced by Confucian beliefs.
- Hakuseki's argument that only the emperor is supposed to serve the Lord of Heaven reflects the beliefs of Confucianism.
(B) Sample Answers
- One important difference is that most Christian missionaries and Muslim Sufis traveled across the world and spread their religion without being banned by other governments.
- One important difference between the circumstances of the religious encounter in eighteenth century Japan and other religious encounters in the period 1450–1750 is that religious interactions in this period more frequently led to the development of syncretic belief systems such as Vodou or Santería than the outright banning of the preaching of a religion.
- One important difference between the Tokugawa shogunate banning the preaching of Christianity and most other religious interactions in the period 1450–1750 is that some governments, such as the Mughal Empire under Akbar, encouraged religious tolerance and interaction.
(C) Sample Answers
- The Mughal emperors of India and the African kings of Kongo attempted to restrict European merchants to certain towns and trading posts.
- The Ming and Qing emperors of China confined the Portuguese merchants to Macao and placed legal restrictions on converting to Christianity.
- Although the Safavid Empire allowed European merchants to settle in some cities and even serve as advisors at court, preaching Christianity was strictly forbidden.
Document-Based Question Example
You'll get seven documents with your DBQ (not shown in the sample above), and you must use at least six of these as evidence in your response. The DBQ is worth up to 7 points .
Here's what you'd need to do to earn full credit for this sample DBQ, per the scoring guidelines .
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Long Essay Question Example
For the Long Essay, you'll get three possible prompts to choose from. This question is an example of an Option 2 prompt with a focus on the years 1450-1900 —in this case, the 19th century. You can earn up to 6 points for your essay.
Here's what you'd need to do to earn full credit for this sample, per the official scoring guidelines :
How Is the AP World History Exam Scored?
Now that you've seen what questions look like on the AP World History test, let's quickly go over exactly how the exam is scored. Like all other AP tests, you will get a final scaled score for AP World History on a scale of 1-5 . This is a cumulative score that combines your raw scores from each of the four parts of the test (Multiple Choice, Short Answer, DBQ, and Long Essay).
Keep reading to see how each part of the AP World History test is scored.
Raw scoring for the multiple-choice section is simple: you earn 1 point for each multiple-choice question you answer correctly . Since there are 55 questions, the max number of points you can earn here is 55. Remember that this part counts for 40% of your total score .
No points are taken off for incorrect answers, so be sure to fill in every answer bubble!
Each short-answer question is worth 3 points—one for each task (labeled A-C) you must complete. Because there are three short-answer questions, this means you can earn a total of 9 raw points for all your responses. The short-answer portion counts for 20% of your final AP score .
The DBQ is worth 25% of your final score and is graded on a 7-point rubric , as shown below:
The Long Essay is worth just 15% of your overall score and is graded on a 6-point rubric :
The Best Way to Prep for the AP World History Exam: 3 Tips
Here are a few of the most important prep tips for AP World History. If you want more advice, take a look at our article on the best study strategies for this exam .
Tip 1: Make Connections to Themes (and Memorize Examples)
World History is a course that covers a ton of information, so much so that it can be hard to think of specific examples that relate to your arguments in essay questions. You should be able to elaborate on one or two concrete events from each period that relate to each theme of the course.
As long as you can preserve this bank of information in your mind, you'll be able to support your answers to any essay questions the test throws at you.
Tip 2: Use Outside Information Selectively
Providing specific historical examples in your essay lets you show your mastery of the material, but you need to be cautious. This test is less about how much you know and more about how well you understand the connections and underlying themes that connect historical facts.
Each fact you mention must have a specific purpose and should tie directly into what the question is asking and what you've stated in your argument.
Tip 3: Learn to Read Multiple-Choice Questions Carefully
You can get into some trouble if you don't understand exactly what the multiple-choice questions are asking on this exam. You'll only find the correct answer if you stick to the specifics of the question. Otherwise, you could get tripped up by choices that are accurate statements about history but inaccurate answers to the question being asked.
Practice your skills in selecting answers that directly pertain to the evidence presented in the question.
Summary: What to Know About the AP World History Exam
The AP World History exam is a three-hour and 15-minute test that consists of 55 multiple-choice questions, three short answers, one DBQ, and one essay.
Questions address six major historical themes and nine units, with periods stretching back to the year 1200 CE. While this is undoubtedly a lot of information to study, it's important to realize that long-term trends are more important than small details.
You can do extremely well on the World History test, as long as you master the major events of each period and understand their essential causes and effects .
Looking for some practice materials for the World History exam? Then check out this detailed guide to all the AP World History practice tests available online .
It's a smart idea to practice your writing skills on DBQs before any AP history test. Learn about the best places to find DBQ examples and how you can write an excellent response .
Which AP classes should you take in high school besides World History? Our expert guide will help you decide based on your goals, academic interests, and schedule.
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The 95 Theses , a document written by Martin Luther in 1517, challenged the teachings of the Catholic Church on the nature of penance, the authority of the pope and the usefulness of indulgences. It sparked a theological debate that fueled the Reformation and subsequently resulted in the birth of Protestantism and the Lutheran , Reformed , and Anabaptist traditions within Christianity.
Luther's action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X. The purpose of this fundraising campaign was to finance the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Even though Luther's prince, Frederick the Wise, and the prince of the neighboring territory, George, Duke of Saxony, forbade the sale in their lands, Luther's parishioners traveled to purchase them. When these people came to confession, they presented the plenary indulgence, claiming they no longer had to repent of their sins, since the document promised to forgive all their sins.
Luther is said to have posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. Church doors functioned very much as bulletin boards function on a twenty-first century college campus. The 95 Theses were quickly translated into German, widely copied and printed. Within two weeks they had spread throughout Germany, and within two months throughout Europe. This was one of the first events in history that was profoundly affected by the printing press, which made the distribution of documents and ideas easier and more wide-spread.
Text of the 95 Theses
**Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther\ on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences
by Dr. Martin Luther, 1517** Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
- This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
- Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
- The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
- The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
- The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
- God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
- The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
- Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
- Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
- This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
- In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
- The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
- The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
- This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
- Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
- With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
- It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
- Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
- Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.
- Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
- Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
- If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
- It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
- The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
- The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
- They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
- It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
- Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
- No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
- Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
- They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
- Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
- For these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
- They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
- Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
- Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
- Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
- It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
- True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
- Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
- Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
- Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
- Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
- Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
- Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
- Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
- Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
- Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
- The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
- They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
- Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
- It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
- The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
- That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
- Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
- St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
- Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;
- For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
- The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
- But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
- On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
- Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
- The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
- The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
- Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
- Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
- But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
- He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
- But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
- The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
- But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
- To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God -- this is madness.
- We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
- It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
- We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
- To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
- The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
- This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
- To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
- Again: -- "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
- Again: -- "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"
- Again: -- "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?"
- Again: -- "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
- Again: -- "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"
- Again: -- "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"
- "Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"
- To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
- If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
- Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!
- Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
- Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
- And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
- Martin Luther
- The 95 Theses in the original Latin
- The 95 Theses in English
AP® World History
52 frequently tested ap® world history terms & concepts.
- The Albert Team
- Last Updated On: December 5, 2022
AP® World History can be a tough nut to crack. How do you cover tens of thousands of years of history that have spanned all peoples and places across the entire globe? Even reading this question sounds exhausting. Amassing a fat stack of AP® World History flashcards can be a daunting prospect when considering all of the information that you’ll need to go through for your upcoming AP® World History exam.
But not to worry; we’ve created this list of over 50 Frequently Tested AP® World History Terms and Concepts so you don’t get lost in that forest of AP® World History time periods. This AP® World History review narrows down all of AP® World History into 52 must-know terms. This is not an end-all-be-all study guide, but it’s the perfect way to study for those concepts that commonly show up on the exam and the AP® World History document-based questions.
What We Review
How To Use This AP® World History Review
Before we dive full-force into the list of the 52 Frequently Tested AP® World History Terms and Concepts, we wanted to let you in on how this AP® World History review has been constructed to best help you succeed on your exam. Starting in the 2019-20 school year, AP® World History gained the subheading “Modern,” and it ( controversially ) reset the timeline to 1200 CE rather than beginning at 8000 B.C.E.
The College Board has created nine distinct historical periods/eras that the entire AP® World History course has been constructed around. They are as follows:
- The Global Tapestry c. 1200 to c. 1450 (8-10% exam weighting)
- Networks of Exchange c. 1200 to 1450 (8-10% exam weighting)
- Land-based Empires c. 1450 – 1750 (12-15% exam weighting)
- Transoceanic Interconnections c. 1450 – 1750 (12-15% exam weighting)
- Revolutions c. 1750 – 1900 (12-15% exam weighting)
- Consequences of Industrialization c. 1750 – 1900 (12-15% exam weighting)
- Global Conflict c. 1900 – Present (8-10% exam weighting)
- Cold War and Decolonization c. 1900 – Present (8-10% exam weighting)
- Globalization c. 1900 – Present (8-10% exam weighting)
And since the College Board has done it this way, so have we. To find out more on how the College Board has organized the course, we recommend giving the AP® World History Course and Exam Description a read.
Now, let’s go ahead and dive right into our AP® World History flashcard terms!
Return to the Table of Contents
The 52 Frequently Tested AP® World History Terms & Concepts
7 frequently tested ap® world history concepts from unit 1: the global tapestry, 1. dar al-islam.
The Dar al-Islam, commonly referred to as the House of Islam, is a broad term that refers to those countries where Muslims can practice their religion freely. Think of this term as areas where Islamic law prevails. Founded in the 600s, Islam spread from India to Spain within a few centuries, and the ideology of Dar al-Islam helped establish Muslim caliphates.
Moreover, it allowed for the expansion of trading networks. Within Dar al-Islam, Muslim caliphates conquered and often tolerated different beliefs as long as non-Muslims paid a tax called a jizya. Dar-al Islam is essential to begin understanding Islam and its expansion, and questions involving it will certainly appear on the exam.
2 . Filial Piety
In Confucian thought, filial piety is a central virtue that emphasizes love, respect, and support for one’s parents and ancestors. Additionally, it stresses that followers display courtesy, ensure male heirs, uphold fraternity among brothers, and carry out the proper sacrifices after a parent’s death.
Filial piety is demonstrated in Confucian stories such as The Twenty-four Cases of Filial Piety , which depict children exercising the tenet and upholding the tradition. Though China contains a multitude of different religious ideas, filial piety has remained a common tradition that runs throughout most of them. It can be difficult managing all the various Confucian concepts, so keep this one as a general rule of thumb.
3. Bhakti Movement
This term encompasses the Hindu devotional movement that flourished in the Medieval and early modern era, emphasizing music, dance, poetry, and rituals as means by which to achieve direct union with the divine. Think of it as a complete surrender to God.
The Bhakti Movement has often been discussed by critics as an influential social reformation in Hinduism, and one that sought to provide an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one’s birthright or gender. In this way, the Bhakti Movement can be seen as a movement that started with the objective to reform or at least change specific aspects of Hinduism.
The feudal system of the West came about with the fall of the great European empires, especially the Carolingian empire (think France, Germany, the United Kingdom, etc.). When these empires fell, Europe was left with a large and powerful military class without a strong state to govern them.
Between the 9th and 15th centuries, society was structured around a series of exchanges. The military class of knights/vassals agreed with the moneyed lords that they would protect the lord’s land in exchange for land. These lands were called fiefs and were tilled and farmed by peasants who were allowed to live on the land in exchange for taxes. This, in a nutshell, is feudalism, and feudalism is essential to understanding the development of the West.
Serfdom dovetails nicely into feudalism, as the two go hand-in-hand and are essentially inseparable. Serfdom is a type of labor commonly used in feudal systems in which the laborers work the land in return for protection. However, this logic binds the serf to the land and their ruler. They were often not allowed to leave or pursue a new occupation. Serfdom was common in early Medieval Europe as well as in Russia until the mid-19th century.
6. Foot Binding
Possibly one of the most visible reminders of Imperial Chinese upper-class visions of beauty, foot binding became a symbol of feminine attractiveness and extravagance. In 10th-century China, upper-class court dancers began applying painful bindings to young women as a way to stunt the growth of their feet.
The popularity of this act spread as the smaller foot represented not only beauty but the extravagance of the upper classes that did not need to use their feet to work. Often called lotus feet, the practice would not die out until the 20th century.
7. Greco-Roman Philosophy
Though the 2019-2020 AP® World History course begins after Greco-Roman times, understanding their contributions to civilization is essential to understanding world history at large. This is less of a concrete event and more of an essential concept that you’ll need to keep in mind for your AP® World History exam.
Where eastern philosophies like Daoism revolved around the natural world, the philosophies of the Greek and Roman empires were often based upon logic, empirical observation, and the nature of political power and hierarchy. Part of the reason for this difference was the Greco-Roman strive for imperial expansion and the quest for practical solutions to political control. This was accomplished with the help of great thinkers like Aristotle and Cicero.
6 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 2: Networks of Exchange
1. the silk road.
This was an ancient trade route that connected Asia with Europe. It acted as the central artery of cultural, economic, and political exchange that began to take shape around 200 BCE and remained in use until about 1400 CE. It connected many peoples from the Pacific Ocean on the shores of eastern China to those of Western Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
The road was actually a product of imperial expansion. As the Han Dynasty of China sought to pacify its frontiers, Emperor Wu sent a military mission out West that would run into the ancestors of Alexander the Great’s men. This whole process opened up trade between East and West.
2. Indian Ocean Trade
The Indian Ocean Trade started within small trading settlements around 800 A.D. and flourished by 1400. This trading route served as the world’s richest maritime trading network alongside the Silk Road and forged strong economic, social, and religious ties between lands. It is also considered a prime tool in the rapid expansion of Islam throughout the late-Medieval and early-Modern eras. The Indian Ocean Trade also helped birth a plethora of city-states along the African shore as well.
3. Diasporic Communities
A key term to understanding the reasoning and theory behind the dissemination of peoples throughout the world, diasporic communities were f ormed when merchants introduced their own cultural traditions into the indigenous culture where they were selling their goods. Think of diaspora at large as the dispersion of any people from their original homeland.
Some concrete examples of diasporic communities include: Muslim merchant communities in the Indian Ocean region, Chinese merchant communities in Southeast Asia, Sogdian merchant communities throughout Central Asia, and Jewish communities in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean basin, or along the Silk Road.
4. Inca Roads
Around 25,000 miles of roads connected the Inca Empire (1438 – 1533). As with many of the world’s empires at this time, the Incas required a way to effectively maintain control, move armies, and facilitate trade across their territories. The result was one of the most impressive feats in pre-Colombian history.
The road itself connected centers of Incan control, ranging from present-day Colombia to Chile. This technological and engineering feat was brought about by the growth of the Inca’s imperial power and the desire to instigate trade in commercial goods. But it also represented a significant state project that encouraged economic, political, and social growth simultaneously.
5. Marco Polo
Marco Polo became one of the most famous European travelers to make it to eastern China. He was by no means the first European to do this, but he has become the most famous. In the 13th century, Polo set out to China at the height of the Mongol Empire with the intent of opening cultural and economic trade. He accomplished this after 24 years of traveling.
He provided detailed, lurid, and often embellished accounts of his travels, romanticizing his expeditions. Polo’s writings about his travels, in fact, inspired future explorers of the Age of Exploration, including Christopher Columbus.
6. Bubonic Plague
The Bubonic Plague, a.k.a the Black Plague/Black Death, was a devastating global epidemic of bubonic plague that struck Europe and Asia in the mid-1300s. It came to Europe from the Mongol rats during the Middle Ages and devastated Europe’s population and economy. To be more specific, it killed ⅓ of Europe’s population, an enormous chunk then (and still scary huge by today’s standards).
The Black Death also helped end feudalism. Peasants were now free to leave the lands of the lords to try to find higher wages because of the huge labor shortages. The land that had usually been the primary source of wealth was now worthless. It marks a salient moment in the development of European history, life, and even commerce.
7 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 3: Land-Based Empires
In order to understand the development of land-based empires, you must have a thorough understanding of mercantilism. Europe was dominated by mercantilist economics, policies, and philosophies throughout the early modern period and the Renaissance. The concept itself created political power through the economy.
Instead of justifying state power via the divine authority of kings or through strict military dominance, mercantilist economic theory argued that governments should regulate that economy and use beneficial trade to oust rival nations. But it also entailed so much more as the mercantilist states often found themselves going to war with one another over resources and resorting to colonial expansion in order to maintain political supremacy. This is the birth of global capitalism.
2. Ivan (IV) The Terrible
While Europe began cultivating economic powerhouses, Russia began cultivating land-based empires helmed by dynastic rulers known as tsars. Ivan The Terrible, technically Russia’s first tsar did a ton of important things in Russia’s history. Generally put, he confirmed the power of the tsarist autocracy by attacking the authority of the boyars; he continued a policy of expansion; and he established contacts with western European commerce and culture.
By the end of his career, he grew increasingly volatile and paranoid and lost many of his followers. He killed his only heir, thus launching Russia into a long-standing Time of Troubles. He is a central figure in the ever-expanding story of Russian history.
3. The Ming Dynasty
A key empire in the development of China, the Ming Dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644 A.D. During this time, China’s population doubled, and it began to develop into the powerhouse it is today. The Ming Dynasty essentially expanded China’s trade and mercantile reputation, and it tied deep networks to the outside world, including cultural ties with the West. The Ming Dynasty is also remembered for its developments in shaping distinctly Chinese culture, drama, literature, and world-renowned porcelain. Understanding the succession of the Chinese empires is crucial to unpacking the development of China as a whole.
4. The Qing Dynasty
The final imperial dynasty of China, the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911), supplanted the Ming empire and propelled China further into the powerhouse status it retains today. Ruled for 61 years (the longest of any Chinese emperor) by Emperor Kangxi, Qing-era China saw several substantial cultural leaps, including the standardization of the Han language, funding to develop highly-detailed and meticulous maps, and more.
Kangxi also displayed great military prowess, halting three Han rebellions, continuous invasion attempts by Tsarist Russia, and more. He also cut taxes, and attempted to fix corruption and governmental excess through populist-leaning policies and agrarian incentives. The Qing Dynasty is also noted for its isolationism.
5. The Manchu Empire
The Manchu were the people of what is now called Manchuria. They had always been an ethnic minority under Han Chinese control until they revolted and started the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century. This dynasty would last until 1912.
While in control, the Manchu celebrated their culture and ideas despite being minorities. This included the “queue” hairstyle that became associated with Chinese culture of the elite classes. However, as global influences spread, foreign pressure from European put strains on the Empire. Their outsider status proved to be a detriment as many Chinese began to blame these “Manchu foreigners” for giving European powers too much control in their country.
6. The Ottoman Empire
Why did we include this one on the list? Well, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most formidable and lasting dynasties in world history. Created by Turkish tribes in Anatolia during the late fourteenth century, the Ottoman Empire grew into an Islamic superpower that maintained control over huge regions of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and North Africa for more than 6 centuries.
The Ottoman Empire’s power was concentrated within a Sultan, who essentially was given absolute religious, political, and social power over their regions. Mehmed II, perhaps the most famous of the Ottoman sultans, conquered Constantinople in 1453 and destroyed what remained of the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Empire is an essential component of Middle Eastern history because it lays the foundation for what is to come in more contemporary history.
7. 95 Theses
Though some historians consider the story of Martin Luther and his 95 Theses apocryphal, its narrative still proves deeply important in the context of the Catholic Church. The legend goes like this: On October 31, 1517, German priest and professor of theology Martin Luter nailed a piece of paper to the door of Castle Church. The paper ostensibly contained 95 revolutionary suggestions designed to correct the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.
One practice that irked Luther, in particular, was the Church’s use of indulgences, or tickets sold by pardoners that granted purchasers “access” to heaven and absolution. Whether the tale is true or false is beside the point because it is often considered the igniting moment of the Protestant Reformation, a long, drawn-out conflict of religion that would shape Europe throughout the next century.
5 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 4: Transoceanic Interconnections
1. atlantic slave trade.
The Atlantic slave trade, sometimes called the transatlantic slave trade or Euro-American slave trade, involved the transportation, enslavement, and sale of African people by white slave traders, mainly to the Americas. The slave trade regularly followed the triangular trade route and the Middle Passage, existing from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The trade was responsible for transporting between 10 and 12 million enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean.
Conditions were notoriously brutal, and cruelty by slave traders upon slaves was rampant. The ships were overcrowded and unsanitary, with hundreds of Africans packed tightly into columns and rows below decks for a voyage of around 5,000 miles. Understanding the ties between commerce and the sheer horror of the Atlantic Slave Trade is crucial to understanding the connections between global commerce and racism.
2. United Fruit Company
This US company, in the late 19th century, dominated the international fruit and banana trade throughout the early twentieth century. Businesses like the United Fruit Company have been called a banana republic due to the amount of influence they exerted towards the politics, economics, and social structures of many Latin American nations. These companies often encouraged the growth of infrastructure, including roads and telecommunications. But they also represented the influence of multinational corporations in the affairs of impoverished countries. Establishments like the United Fruit Company play an integral role in strengthening Western rule over developing countries.
3. Cash Crop
In an era defined by trade, money, and profit, cash was king. Therefore, any crop or agricultural product that created cash flow tended to be produced and then cherished. Perhaps even to a detrimental degree. A cash crop is just that—a crop grown for cash instead of subsistence. Sugar (see The Atlantic System and United Fruit Company) was one of these cash crops. Before the arrival of Europeans into the Americas, sugar plantation was only a small part of the regional agricultural system. But after European arrival, it became the primary crop. These crops had devastating effects on the environment, local economy, and the health of many populations. They also typically included coerced or forced labor systems in order to maximize profit.
4. Joint-Stock Companies
These companies became the house in which capitalism was built and how global trading flourished. In the 15th century, European businessmen, investors, and politicians were getting together to invest in companies premised upon stock ownership. The amount of stock you received depended on how much money you invested. And the amount of stock you owned defined how much sway you had in the company itself. These businesses helped to fund exploration projects throughout the world, where investors worked with colonists to extract goods from various locales for profit. One of the most famous of these was the British Virginia Company that began the English colonization of North America.
5. East India Company
Spain and Portugal held a monopoly over the East Indian spice trade until the defeat of the Spanish Armada by England. After this, England decided to gain a piece of the profit by forming the East India Company, setting up trading posts throughout East and Southeast Asia.
However, the East India Company quickly became much more than a mere trading organization. The company eventually started establishing political strongholds and acted as an active agent of British imperialism in India for almost two centuries, marking one of global history’s most tumultuous and problematic periods of East meets West. Unpacking the significance of Britain’s influence on the East lies almost directly in understanding the affairs of the East India Company.
5 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 5: Revolutions
1. pueblo rebellion .
Though the Pueblo Rebellion (1680) technically predates Unit 5’s timeline of 1750-1900, it essentially lays the framework for the next few centuries where revolution makes frequent appearances. The Pueblo Rebellion was an organized revolt of Pueblo Indians against Spanish Rule in New Mexico. Though a peaceful people, the Pueblos had endured too much trauma at the hands of the Spanish, including forced Catholicism, severe punishments, and the burning of their land and sacred objects.
On Aug. 10, 1680, the Pueblos launched a revolt that left 400 dead, forcing the Spanish to flee. The Pueblos celebrated by removing the traces of Christian baptism from their spaces, churches, and buildings. This rebellion marks an early moment of a soon-to-be tumultuous timeline.
Montesquieu has often been considered one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment . Born in 17th-century France, Montesquieu became an influential lawyer, political thinker, and author. He helped to coin the term despot, which he used to criticize the rulers of Europe at that time. He also celebrated republican visions of the separation of powers and constitutionalism.
He argued that the citizenry of a state had a contractual relationship with the government to obey its authority in exchange for protection and law-based rights. Big thinkers like Montesquieu would help to give intellectual breath into the lives of the American and French Revolutions . In order to fully comprehend the wave of rebellions after 1700, you must have a strong grasp on the central tenets of the Enlightenment, and Montesquieu is a go-to.
3. American Revolution
You are probably fairly familiar with the American Revolution, but we’ve included it on this list because, like the French Revolution, it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the revolutionary era. On July 4th, 1776, the American Colonists, fed up with a variety of Great Britain’s widespread abuses, including but not limited to taxation without representation, the Quartering Act, violence inflicted upon colonists by British soldiers, and more, declared revolution against their progenitors.
The American Revolutionary War lasted from 1775 to 1783, with the colonists, now Americans, securing victory. The American Revolution is key to global history because it was one of the largest revolutions to transport Enlightenment ideals into real-life revolution, as the entire event was directly influenced by American pamphleteers like Thomas Paine, who, in turn, borrowed from Enlightenment theorists like John Locke and Immanuel Kant. It also laid the groundwork for the French Revolution.
4. French Revolution
This is an essential, complex, and extremely multi-faceted event, but it is imperative that you have a basic understanding of it in order to score well. Here’s a basic outline: during the 18th century, the French monarchy became increasingly absolute and despotic, a disposition which was exacerbated by King Louis XVI’s poor economic policies, an expanding maldistribution of wealth, and a series of ruinous crop failures.
The Third Estate, a new(ish) political force composed of France’s non-aristocratic people, gained momentum with rhetoric inherited from the Enlightenment, which aimed to topple France’s ruling class. On July 14, 1789, the Third Estate (now morphed into an even more formidable force called the National Assembly) stormed the Bastille and demanded reform. It gets way, way more complicated (and bloody—the guillotine becomes the National Assembly’s tool of choice in executing the aristocratic class) than this, but this should be a nice primer. Check out this documentary for a more thorough explanation.
5. A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. This work contains one of the earliest arguments for a feminist philosophy, although the term feminist would not have been used at this time). Wollstonecraft used Enlightenment ideals regarding freedom and equality to argue that women deserved the same fundamental rights as men.
She argued that women were essential to the nation because they educated children, that women deserve the right to an education, and that women should be seen as companions to men rather than ornamental wives. Wollstonecraft’s book became a symbol for the feminist movements that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, and thus, a significant work of revolution indebted to the ideas proffered by the Enlightenment.
5 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 6: Consequences of Industrialization
1. social darwinism .
Social Darwinism is a sociological theory stemming from, you guessed it, Charles Darwin, the biologist. This theory posits that individuals, groups, and peoples are subject to the same Darwinian laws of natural selection as plants and animals. Basically put, it’s the belief that only the fittest survive in human political and economic struggle.
Now largely discredited, social Darwinism was advocated by the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and was used to justify political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention and reform. It is an ideological framework that helped accelerate industrialization.
2. Spheres of Influence
Since industrialization is directly tied to global expansion, the idea of spheres of influence is essential in understanding the modernization of the world during the 18th century onward. The phrase comes from the field of international relations, and it denotes a spatial region or concept division over which a state or organization has a level of cultural, economic, military, or political exclusivity.
Huh? Well, to put it more simply, spheres of influence are areas in which countries have some political and economic control but do not govern directly (ex. Europe and U.S. in China). Within these spheres, nations can exert their influence and control in order to reap benefits. This relationship is integral to industrialization.
3. Karl Marx
While Marx is often considered a seminal German philosopher, his work attempts to leap out from the theoretical boundaries of philosophy and bring about change in the so-called real world. His works, of which the most famous are The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital , inspired the foundation of many communist regimes and revolutionary movements in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern industrialized world.
Marxism is an extremely complicated and intricate school of social theory, but it is best that you understand at least the basics. Think of Marxism broadly as two related theories: Marx’s theory of history and his theory of capitalism. Marx’s theory of history, what’s been called historical materialism, proffers the idea that history (the rise and fall of societies) stems from a series of class struggles rooted in capitalist modes of production. Marx’s economic analysis of capitalism revolved around the labor theory of value, the idea that the value of a commodity was determined by the average number of labor hours necessary to produce it. Marx’s theories play integral roles in developing a body of thought critical of industrial capitalism.
4. Convict Labor
Convict labor was drafted in response to overcrowded prisons. Essentially, the practice went as follows: criminals were forced into public service and manual labor. The practice often used disciplinary methods and created living and working conditions reminiscent of slavery, where prisoners were housed and treated like animals. There was a high mortality rate.
Australia saw a large growth in population during the 19th century as a direct result of convict labor, which actually led to an Australian gold rush and, eventually, mass migration to the island. Convict labor represented a new sense of slavery and drew further parallels between servitude and capitalism.
5. Chinese Exclusion Act
Designed to stop the influx of Chinese immigrants to the United States, and particularly to California, The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended Chinese immigration for ten years and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization. Though Chinese-Americans already in the country challenged the constitutionality of the discriminatory acts, their efforts failed. It was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration, and it prevented the US from receiving labor from a substantial source. It is significant because it points toward the ties between racism and industrialization.
7 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 7: Global Conflict
1. great depression.
Though technically restricted to America, the Great Depression had devastating consequences that set the ball in motion for subsequent global catastrophe. The Great Depression began with the collapse of the US stock market in 1929, initiating a period of worldwide economic stagnation and depression. Sharp declines in income and production occurred as buying and selling slowed down. Widespread unemployment reigned supreme.
On a global scale, countries raised tariffs to protect their industries, and America stopped investing in Europe. The great depression led to a loss of confidence that economies were self-adjusting and destabilizing the world, and it led to widespread economic discontent that would give rise to fascism .
In order to fully comprehend the reasons behind the global conflicts of modernity, you must have a strong grip on the form of government known as fascism. Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian hyper-nationalism characterized by dictatorial centralized power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and the economy. This form of rule gained popularity in Europe during the 20th century, and it led to two global catastrophes: WWI and WWII.
Simply put, fascism is a form of government that is ruled by an authoritarian leader, and they are often a totalitarian one-party state. They aim to prepare for armed conflicts and spread rule. Think Hitler, Mussolini, etc. Fascism during the 20th century led to a plethora of global horror, and it almost brought the world to a total standstill.
3. Paris Peace Conference
The Paris Peace Conference was an international meeting held in January 1919 at Versailles. It was designed to establish peace after WWI and essentially rebuild Europe after the devastation of war. Much of the conference was dominated by the “Big Four,” Great Britain, France, the United States, and Italy. The Big Four helped create the Treaty of Versailles, which effectively ended WWI, and argued for the construction of a League of Nations that would serve as an international forum and an international collective security arrangement.
Additionally, the Treaty of Versailles awarded German and Ottoman overseas possessions as “mandates” to members of the British Empire and France, and Europe underwent a renewed drawing of national boundaries. And Germany was hit with reparation fees and punishments. The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles would lay the foundation for the next global war, WWII, so it is a significant component of world history.
4. The Holocaust
You are probably already familiar with The Holocaust, but it is too important of an event to leave off this list. The Holocaust was a methodical plan orchestrated by Adolf Hitler during WWII to ensure German/Aryan supremacy. It called for the systematic murder of Jews, non-conformists, homosexuals, non-Aryans, and the mentally and physically disabled, and it culminated in the death of 11 million people. It represents one of the darkest moments in history, and it reveals something horrible lurking at the essence of modernity. It also marks a significant turning point in political, social, and cultural world history, representing something of a near apocalypse. 20th-century critical theorist Theodor Adorno famously wrote, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.” Indeed, the Holocaust undid the notion that man is inherently good.
5. Russian Revolution of 1917
By the 20th century, Russian citizens had grown tired of an increasingly corrupt, incompetent Tsar regime, and the anger was exacerbated by famine and a horrible military performance in WWII. This discontent led to the Russian Revolution, which occurred in two successions. The first wave toppled the imperial government, and the second placed the Bolsheviks (a far-left, revolutionary Marxist faction founded by Vladimir Lenin) in power.
A succession of power struggles, infighting, mismanagement, and more conflict would follow, ultimately leading to the rise of Joseph Stalin and the USSR. It essentially sets the stage for the rest of Russia’s development in the 20th century, so it is a super important moment to memorize.
Put simply, nationalism is a strong feeling of pride and devotion toward one’s country. Of course, this concept can be a good thing as it ties citizens to their country and the personal to the political, ultimately achieving a shared sense of community stemming from national solidarity. However, nationalism in the extreme can be incredibly dangerous to the well-being of a nation, and it can lead to war. Many of the fascist movements of the 20th century were directly tied to periods of intense nationalism, where anger, entitlement, and xenophobia culminated in extreme national pride. Check out this Time article on WWII and nationalism. Nationalism is simple enough on its surface, but articulating and analyzing how it surfaces, what it affects, and how it can be dangerous is tricky.
7. Spanish Civil War
In 1936, a rebellion helmed by right-wing Spanish military officers erupted in Spain after a coalition of Socialists and Communists was elected to run the country. The revolt quickly became a full-blown civil war. The military officers, led by Francisco Franco, gained financial and material support from Germany and began launching assaults against the left-leaning government forces who received financial and material assistance from Russia. The Civil War lasted for about three years, ending with a victory for Franco.
This conflict is frequently called “a dress rehearsal for WWII” as it represented a conflict involving class struggle, a war of religion, a struggle between dictatorship and republican democracy, between revolution and counterrevolution, and between fascism and communism.
5 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 8: Cold War and Decolonization
1. indian national congress.
In the 1920s and ’30s, the Congress Party, led by Mohandas Gandhi, began advocating nonviolent noncooperation against the British government ruling India. From this movement came the Indian National Congress, often referred to as the Congress Party, a broadly based political party of India. During its first several decades of operation, the Congress Party passed moderate reform actions, while many were becoming radicalized by poverty stemming from British imperialism.
In the early 20th century, some of the party started to endorse a policy of swadeshi (“of our own country”), which called on Indians to boycott imported British goods and promote Indian-made goods. By 1917, the more radical “Home Rule wing” had begun to exert significant influence within the country by appealing to India’s diverse social classes. The creation and subsequent successes of the Indian National Congress pointed toward an era of decolonization that was to come.
Decolonization is the undoing of colonialism, the latter being the process whereby a nation establishes and maintains its domination on overseas territories. Between 1945 and 1960, nearly 36 dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers through either revolution, peaceful compromise, nonviolent protest, or something else.
These new countries responded to decolonization in various ways. Some newly independent countries acquired stable governments almost immediately; others were ruled by dictators or militaristic forms of government for decades, and some faced long civil wars. And on the European side, some governments welcomed a new relationship with their former colonies, while others contested decolonization with military intervention. This term is an essential vocabulary word.
3. Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh will most famously be remembered for being the Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader during the Vietnam War. But he also represented much more. His movement mimicked other decolonization efforts across the globe after World War II. In particular, he turned to the leaders of the democratic world, including the US and France, for help to become a sovereign nation. But in their denial, he turned to revolution as a response.
He also represented the Cold War binaries that decolonization efforts ran into in their efforts for sovereignty. He was stuck between the Communism of Russia and the Democracy of the United States. The war itself would turn out to be a major blight in France’s and the United States ‘ histories, leading to social and political pressure against efforts in colonialism and Cold War interventionism.
4. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
In November 1947, the United Nations (the UN) voted to divide the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Almost immediately, violent clashes emerged between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. As British military began exiting Palestine, conflict continued to escalate, with both Jewish and Arab forces committing violence upon each other. Both sections argued and fought for total sovereignty.
Among the most infamous events was the attack on the Arab village of Dayr Yāsīn on April 9, 1948. The news of a brutal massacre there spread widely and inspired both panic and retaliation. Days later, Arab forces attacked a Jewish convoy headed for Hadassah Hospital, killing 78. This back-and-forth violence continues to this day and makes for much of the violence in the Middle East.
5. Proxy War
Proxy wars essentially, one might argue, make up the majority of military outbreaks after WWII. A proxy war is an armed conflict between two states or non-state actors which act on the instigation or on behalf of other parties that are not directly involved in the hostilities. In other words, a proxy war is a war instigated by a major power that does not participate.
Think of the Spanish Civil War, the many skirmishes between the USSR and the United States in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and perhaps even the Vietnam War at large—in a way. Proxy wars are significant because they are so complex. They allow national powerhouses to compete with each other without directly competing with each other. This sort of wartime deception is a crucial component of recent history.
5 Frequently Tested AP® World History Concepts from Unit 9: Globalization
1. military-industrial complex.
This term became popular after American President Dwight D. Eisenhower used it in his 1961 presidential address to the nation. During that address, Eisenhower warned his listeners that the intimacy between the defense industry and the nation’s military could potentially lead to some very serious and dangerous policy decisions on part of the US government. In other words, he warned that technology companies could easily profit off of war and thus encourage war for more profit. Protesters of the Vietnam War, in particular, used this speech as a way to criticize the US’s presence in the region.
Today, the military-industrial complex is often evoked in conversations surrounding Western military intervention, the US prison system, and the overall motivations of global military action. It’s an essential concept if you want to begin unpacking the complexity of the “now.”
Pan-Africanism has been less of an event and more of an intellectual movement of the 20th and 21st centuries—it’s an essential concept today. Built around the notion that all people of African descent have a shared history, they, too, have a shared destiny for the future. The movement itself has been particularly strong in Central and North America, where the African Slave Trade affected entire populations.
Using a shared history of enslavement, Pan-Africanism finds empowerment in African identity. The beliefs have been diverse, though, ranging from Rastafarianism to Black Power. The African Union can also be seen as an instance of Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism has led to a surge in black empowerment movements and ideologies that have helped shape the 20th and 21st centuries .
3. Green Revolution
Unlike the Russian Revolution or the American Revolution, the Green Revolution did not involve violence or warfare. This was a revolution in the technology of agriculture and how food was being produced. Between the 1930s and 1960s , a series of innovations completely altered how food was grown and produced across the world.
New disease-resistant and high-yielding varieties of crops were being developed, particularly for wheat, corn, and grains. The result has been that nations have been able to grow more than what has been required to feed their populations, leading to a growing agriculture industry and increased access to food across the world.
4. World Health Organization
Established in 1948, the World Health Organization ( WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. They follow a central constitution that emphasizes “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.” It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.
Furthermore, The WHO’s central objective includes advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, coordinating responses to health emergencies, and promoting human health and well-being . It provides technical assistance to countries, sets international health standards and guidelines, and collects data on global health issues through the World Health Survey. Its inception represents an important moment in global cooperation to promote health.
5. North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement, often referred to simply as NAFTA, was an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States which created a trilateral trade in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994, and eliminated most tariffs on products traded between the three countries, with a major focus on liberalizing trade in agriculture, textiles, and automobile manufacturing. The deal also sought to protect intellectual property, establish dispute resolution mechanisms, and, through side agreements, implement labor and environmental safeguards. NAFTA is significant because it establishes a commercial link between the countries of North America that would help define commerce during the next decade.
Wrapping Things Up: The Ultimate List of Frequently Tested AP® World History Terms
Managing all of the information within all of the AP® World History periods can be a bit of an intellectual overload. You are, after all, attempting to digest thousands of years of developments and processes not just on the national scale but throughout the entire globe. It’s a difficult task, to say the least.
But acing the AP® World History exam can be done! Stick with this list of 50 Frequently Tested AP® World History Terms, and you’ll be on your way to getting a 5 on your exam.
We’ve not only covered AP® World History flashcard terms from the ancient past to the present moment, but we have engaged in regions all over the globe. On top of this, we have provided key AP® World History terms for not only must-know events but also some that represent the most important concepts that you’ll need to know for your AP® World History exam. With practice and preparation, you can ace this exam!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like our AP® World History tips or our AP® World History review guide .
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Martin Luther's 95 Theses
This translation of Martin Luther's 95 theses was published in the Works of Martin Luther by Adolf Spaeth et al [ means "and others" ], published in 1915.
Our books consistently maintain 4-star and better ratings despite the occasional 1- and 2-star ratings from people angry because we have no respect for sacred cows.
It's important to notice that all of the 95 theses have to do with indulgences .
Since Luther's most famous doctrine is Sola Fide (faith alone), it's often assumed that this was the topic of the ninety-five theses or that they covered many of the doctrinal issues he had with Roman Catholicism.
They did not. They all concern indulgences in some way.
Martin Luther's Heading to the 95 Theses
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.
In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The 95 Theses
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite ["Repent"], willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God's remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
20. Therefore by "full remission of all penalties" the pope means not actually "of all," but only of those imposed by himself.
21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope's indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.
25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
34. For these "graces of pardon" concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
49. Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter's church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope's wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
56. The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church's poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ's merit, are that treasure;
61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the "greatest graces" are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God—this is madness.
76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
82. To wit: "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial."
83. Again: "Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?"
84. Again: "What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul's own need, free it for pure love's sake?"
85. Again: "Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?"
86. Again: "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?"
87. Again: "What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?"
88. Again: "What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?"
89. "Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?"
90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Peace, peace," and there is no peace!
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, "Cross, cross," and there is no cross!
94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.
Post-Script to the Ninety-Five Theses
Those are the 95 theses that changed the world!
Basically, this document, nailed to the cathedral door at Wittenberg (a common thing to do when you wanted to make a public announcement), ruined the trade in indulgences in that area.
Pope Leo X was engaged in building St. Peter's Basilica, and Martin Luther, an unknown monk, had suddenly stopped the inflow of money. It was this problem, begun by these 95 theses, that started the Reformation and changed the world.
Return to The Reformation
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Today in Sports - Paul “Bear” Bryant becomes winningest coach in college football history, 315 wins
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1906 — Tommy Burns fights to a 20-round draw with light heavyweight Jack O’Brien in a world heavyweight title bout in Los Angeles.
1929 — Ernie Nevers rushes for six touchdowns and kicks four PATs to score all his team’s points, an NFL record, in the Chicago Cardinals’ 40-6 rout of the Chicago Bears.
1948 — Dippy Evans of the Chicago Bears is the only NFL player to score two touchdowns on recovered fumbles in a 48-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.
1969 — The New York Knicks beat the Cincinnati Royals 106-105 at Cleveland to set an NBA record with 18 consecutive victories.
1981 — Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant becomes the winningest coach in college football history when the Rolling Tide beats Auburn 28-17 in the Iron Bowl. It’s Bryant’s 315th career victory, surpassing Amos Alonzo Stagg for most wins.
1986 — The Celtics beat San Antonio 111-96 at Boston Garden to set an NBA record with their 38th consecutive homecourt victory.
1992 — Bobby Bowden becomes the first major college coach to win 10 games in six straight seasons as Florida State beats Florida 45-24 to finish the regular season at 10-1.
2004 — Cincinnati and Cleveland play the most remarkable game in their intrastate rivalry, a wacky 58-48 victory by the Bengals that is the second-highest scoring game in NFL history. The 106 combined points are the most since the Redskins beat the Giants 72-41 on Nov. 27, 1966, for the league record.
2004 — Bode Miller becomes the first man to open a World Cup season with three victories in three disciplines, winning a super-giant slalom ahead of Hermann Maier in Lake Louise, Alberta. Miller’s first career Super G win comes one day after his first World Cup downhill victory. He also won the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, and is just the fourth skier to win World Cup races in all five disciplines over his career (slalom and combined are the others).
2014 — Martin St. Louis reaches 1,000 career points with a goal and an assist as the New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0. St. Louis scores on a rebound for the 1,000th point of his career to become the sixth undrafted player in NHL history to accomplish the feat.
2014 — Brandon Doughty throws a Conference USA-record eight touchdown passes, the last in overtime to Jared Dangerfield followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Willie McNeal that lifts Western Kentucky over No. 19 Marshall 67-66.
2015 — Paxton Lynch ties the FBS record with seven touchdown passes in a half, and Memphis set single-season records for yards and points in a 63-0 win over SMU.
2015 — Tyson Fury defeats Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision to end the Ukrainian’s nine-and-a-half-year reign as heavyweight champion and take his WBA, IBF, and WBO heavyweight titles.
2016 — A chartered plane with a Brazilian first division soccer team crashes near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 75 people. Six people survive. The aircraft, which had departed from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was transporting the Chapecoense soccer team from southern Brazil for the first leg of a two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional of Medellin.