The Reformation, a new exhibition exploring a series of events which changed the course of history, is set to launch at Manchester’s John Rylands Library.

The exhibition at John Rylands Library marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – A monk who shattered the strength of the Catholic Church, a monarch who wanted to take more than one wife, a society that put sin up for sale … and the power of the printed word to challenge it all.

In October 1517, German monk and scholar Martin Luther began questioning the Catholic Church, particularly for its sale of “indulgences”, or sins that could be forgiven – for a price. Luther may have remained a little-known scholar but for the fact that his words took shape in printed form, reaching thinkers all over the world – including the radical scholar, William Tyndale and one of history’s most notorious monarchs, King Henry VIII.

The Reformation invites visitors to journey through these tumultuous times and find out how Luther’s work led to the splintering of the Catholic Church in England. Learn how Henry VIII’s attempts to divorce led him to overthrow the Catholic Church and elect himself head of the Church of England and discover why William Tyndale’s translation of the bible into English is still felt in the language we speak today.

The exhibition explores the consequences of these events through rare religious tracts, through letters and through print.

Speaking of the exhibition, Lead Curator Julianne Simpson, Rare Books and Maps Manager at The John Rylands Library commented, “Much like the digital communications revolution of the 21st century, the invention of the printing press meant that news, ideas and opinions could spread rapidly across the globe. It’s been fascinating to delve into these three characters and explore how their radical ideas and actions changed our society.’

When does The Reformation exhibition run at the John Rylands Library, Manchester?

The Reformation runs from 7 September 2017 until 4 March 2018.  The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of events exploring the Reformation itself.

King Henry VIII – image courtesy The John Rylands Library Manchester