Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation, often referred to simply as the Reformation, was a widespread movement to reform the Catholic Church in Western Europe. The movement began in 1517 when the German monk Martin Luther, unhappy with the corruption and practices he saw within the Church, nailed his 'Ninety-Five Theses' to a door. This simple act eventually led to revolt and war in Europe. It culminated in the devastating 30 Years War, which was fought between 1618 and 1648 and involved most of the major European powers. In the end, Protestantism became the dominant religion in parts of Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries, as well as all of Scandinavia, England and Scotland.

The newly formed Protestant denominations held varied beliefs, but all of them rejected the authority of the Pope and generally put more emphasis on the teachings of the Bible. This had a profound effect on given names in regions where Protestantism took hold, notably in England. Names of saints fell out of favour, and, with the increased focus on scripture, names appearing in the Bible came into fashion.

In England, the pious Puritans took things further. Names from the Old Testament, which had been rarely used in the Middle Ages, became common in the 17th century. The Puritans also began the practice of using vocabulary words for names, such as Faith and Hope.