The Renaissance was a period of great artistic and cultural achievement. After the Renaissance, Europe experienced a period of religious and political turmoil that came to be known as the Reformation. The Reformation was a movement led by Martin Luther that sought to reform the Catholic Church. It began in 1517 when Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.
The Reformation had a profound impact on European culture. Protestantism replaced Catholicism as the dominant religion in much of northern Europe, while southern Europe remained staunchly Roman Catholic. This split between Protestants and Catholics led to centuries of conflict between these two religious groups. It was a time of great exploration, with the voyages of discovery to the Americas and the Far East, a time of great social upheaval, with the rise of the middle class and the growth of cities.
In addition to these religious conflicts, Europeans were also experiencing political struggles during this time period. Several European countries fought over territory along their borders: Spain fought France for control of Italy; England fought Spain for control of the Netherlands (which it won); France fought Spain for control of parts of Germany; and so on.