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Qwiz5 Quizbowl Essentials – The Council of Trent

Every Reformation has a Counter-Reformation, and the Protestant Reformation was no exception. The Protestant Reformation began in 1517 and led to a schism within the Catholic Church. Eager to regain ground lost to the Protestants, the Catholic Church’s Counter-Reformation attacked Protestantism on theological, cultural, and political grounds. The Counter-Reformation began with The Council of Trent, a gathering of Roman Catholic clergy from 1545-1563 that defined Catholic doctrine, addressed Protestant theology, and reformed (some) of the Church’s abuses.

By analyzing questions, you can see patterns emerge, patterns that will help you answer questions. Qwiz5 is all about those patterns. In each installment of Qwiz5, we take an answer line and look at its five most common clues. Here we explore five clues that will help you answer a tossup on The Council of Trent.


Pope Paul III convened the Council of Trent in the northern Italian city of Trento. The first period at Trent clarified Catholic doctrine on original sin and rejected the Protestant doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. The onset of plague paused the Council’s proceedings in 1547, and Pope Paul III died two years later.


The first period of the Council of Trent saw a flurry of proclamations regarding The Bible. Those in attendance finally fixed the canon of the Old and New Testament, stating exactly which books belonged to each section. Additionally, the supremacy of the Latin Bible, or Vulgate, was affirmed.


Pope Julius III began the second set of council meetings in 1551. The Jesuit Diego Lainez was a dominant force during these proceedings, but they had to be called off in 1552 due to the military successes of the Protestant Maurice of Saxony. The Council would not resume until 1555. ARCHBISHOP CHARLES BORROMEO

When the Council was re-convened by Pope Pius IV, the Milanese Archbishop Charles Borromeo was a dominant figure. The third and final period of the Council of Trent saw many new proclamations, among them much-needed reforms but also the creation of a list of forbidden books. Additionally, the third period reaffirmed the importance of indulgences (partial remission of sins in exchange for services or money rendered to the Church).

BENEDICTUS DEUS The Council of Trent had taken many years, but it had accomplished a great deal. Pope Pius IV issued a papal bull (a public decree) named Benedictus Deus summarizing the Council’s results. Pope Pius IV also issued the Tridentine Creed in the wake of the council, a formalized declaration of the Catholic faith based on the findings at Trent.


Quizbowl is about learning, not rote memorization, so we encourage you to use this as a springboard for further reading rather than as an endpoint. Here are a few things to check out:

  • For a nice run-down on some of the doctrinal outcomes of the Council of Trent, especially for those who may not be familiar with Catholicism, check out this article!

  • The Council of Trent authorized Pope Paul III to reform the Julian calendar. Although it would be his successor, Gregory XIII who made the change official, Paul III got the ball rolling.

  • Although the Catholic Church no longer publishes an Index of Banned Books, it’s interesting to see all the books that were censored over the years.

  • The Council of Trent addressed all aspects of Catholic Mass, including music. Fortunately for us, the Council did not ban the use of polyphony and the Church continued to support brilliant composers like Giovanni Palestrina:


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