In the 16th century, a radical change was about to begin in Europe, the Protestant Reformation. At the time, the Roman Catholic church was the predominant religion in Europe. The reformation was sparked by the work of Martin Luther when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church. Although the primary objective was to reform religious practice, notably the perceived corruption of paying for indulgences, there was a critical implication of the reformation for education, the ability to read the Bible. Reformers adhered to the five Solas: Scripture, Christ, Grace, Faith, and God’s Glory alone.
In particular, the first Solas, Scripture Alone, meant every person had a responsibility to learn to read the Bible to learn the truth of Scripture and not rely on the clergy. After his trial, Martin Luther set out to translate the Bible into German for this very purpose. The timing worked out with the technology at the time, as the printing press had just been invented and was instrumental in eventually ensuring everyone had access to the Bible. This was the beginning of a movement for ordinary citizens to become more educated in the reading of Scripture rather than relying on the clergy for knowledge.