In the first half of the sixteenth century western Europe experiences a wide range of social, artistic, and geo-political changes as the result of a conflict within the Catholic church. This conflict is called the Protestant Reformation, and the Catholic response to it is called the Counter-Reformation.
The Breakup of the Universal Christian Church
To defend itself against the Protestant movement, the Catholic Church took a number of actions known as the Catholic Reformation or Counter-Reformation. The term Catholic Reformation refers specifically to Roman Catholic efforts to bring a spirit of reform to the Catholic Church. The term Counter-Reformation, on the other hand, refers to the Catholic campaign to combat the activities of the Protestants. As religious emotions intensified and the lines of religious division became more sharply defined, Europeans became involved in the wars of religion.
The usual term for the religious movement which made its appearance in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, and which, while ostensibly aiming at an internal renewal of the Church, really led to a great revolt against it, and an abandonment of the principal Christian beliefs.