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Reformation History

How did the protestant reformation affect colonization in the Americas?


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October 03, 2010 12:41AM

The Protestant Reformation had little effect on colonization in Latin America. Both Spain and Portugal were Roman Catholic. Protestants were not welcome. The colonies that would include Protestants would be those in North America.

The first successful Protestant colonies were English in Virginia, 1607; Dutch in New York, 1609; and English in Massachusetts, 1619. These were commercial colonies. While the people were religious, the backers were businessmen.

It was not so much the Reformation as the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, 1572, that had a tremendous effect. The French Protestants or Huguenots still alive fled France with the clothes on their backs. (Some had been pre-warned and had fled in advance. Some Catholics had been accused of Protestantism and had also fled. Some had been skipped over. And some had been lucky.) The Dutch opened their colony to the landless Huguenots. Many came to New York.

The 30 years war ending in 1648 created a new group of landless people, both Protestants and Catholics. Many not made homeless during the war became homeless at the end. All during the war newly landless sailed to America. Many German Protestants came to Pennsylvania. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants went to Rhode Island and Maryland.