The Reformation began in northern and central Europe with reformers such as John Calvin, Henry VIII and Martin Luther. These leaders questioned the Catholic Europe and the Catholic Church's ability to dictate Christian practice for every member of the Church.
These leaders argued that there needed to be a new political distribution of power and that there needed to be a new religious distribution of power. This distribution would go on to trigger wars, persecutions and the Catholic Church's response to the Protestants known as the Counter-Reformation.
Historians say that the Protestant Reformation began in 1517 with Luther's "95 Theses" and did not end until either 1555 with the Peace of Augsburg or 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia, depending on which historian a person speaks with. The idea behind the Reformation was to purify the church and to call attention to the Bible rather than to tradition. This was not a new idea, but this was the first time that it was used skillfully.
Luther is considered the most prolific of the Reformation leaders and the most successful in terms of spreading his ideas to the public. In the period of 1518 to 1525, Luther published more works than the other 17 most prolific reformers combined.