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Second Reformation

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The term Second Reformation has been used in a number of contexts in Protestantism, and continues to be used by some to refer to contemporary events. In Germany and Northern Europe generally it is likely to refer to a period of Calvinist pressure on Lutheranism from about 1560-1619.[1] The "Dutch Second Reformation" or Nadere Reformatie ("Another Reformation") is usually placed rather later, from about 1600 onwards, and had much in common with English Puritanism.

In English the term most often refers to an evangelical campaign from the 1820s onwards, organised by fundamentalists in the Church of Ireland and Church of England.

Evangelical clergymen were known as "Biblicals" or "New Reformers". The Second Reformation was most zealously prosecuted in Connacht where it was encouraged by Thomas Plunket[2], the Anglican Bishop of Tuam. Opposition in the west was led by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, John MacHale. The movement endeavoured (unsuccessfully) and in ecumenical terms disastrously, to proselytise amongst the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, frequently by highly dubious means in which material benefits were offered as a reward for conversion [3]

The Second Reformation was also opposed by moderates in the Church of Ireland. It petered out during the 1860s.


  1. Michalski, 84
  2. [2nd Baron] Thomas Plunket
  3. Search, A Church of Ireland Journal, Summer 2008, p. 151


  • Michalski, Sergiusz. Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 020341425X, 9780203414255 Google Books
  • Irene Whelan (2005), The Bible War in Ireland: The Second Reformation and the Polarization of Protestant-Catholic Relations, 1800–1840
  • Desmond Bowen (1978), "The Protestant Crusade in Ireland, 1800-70"


  1. Michalski, 84
  2. [2nd Baron] Thomas Plunket
  3. Search, A Church of Ireland Journal, Summer 2008, p. 151

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