1377: John Wycliffe (above), an English religious reformer, was tried as a heretic for his criticism of the Roman Catholic Church.
1378–1417: The Great Western Schism, a division within the Roman Catholic Church with rival popes seated in Rome and Avignon, greatly reduced the influence and prestige of the office of pope.
1388: The first English translation of the Bible was completed by John Wycliffe and his followers.
1415: Jan Hus, a Bohemian religious reformer, was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake.
1438: Johannes Gutenberg (above), a German printer, invented the movable-type printing press. He published the Bible in Latin in about 1455, making it available to the masses for the first time.
1492: Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to America.
1507: Pope Julius II began selling indulgences to raise money for St. Peter’s Basilica.
1517: Martin Luther (above) nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, protesting the sale of indulgences and other practices. Many consider this act the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
1519–31: Huldrych Zwingli (right) led the Protestant Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland. He was killed in a war between Catholics and Protestants.
1521: Luther was excommunicated and declared an outlaw.
1522: Luther published the first German translation of the New Testament.
1525: William Tyndale published his English translation of the Bible in Germany and smuggled copies into England. He was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1536.
1534: The Church of England broke with the Roman Catholic Church when King Henry VIII (left) assumed full authority over the national church.
1541–64: John Calvin (left) promoted the Protestant Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland.
1555: The Peace of Augsburg resulted from a treaty between the Holy Roman Empire and German princes to end the wars of the Reformation. The treaty officially recognized Protestantism and allowed each German prince to decide the religion of his subjects.
1560: John Knox (above), a follower of Calvin, succeeded in establishing Protestantism as the state religion in Scotland.
1562–98: Wars of religion occurred between Protestant French Huguenots and the Roman Catholic Church. The Edict of Nantes (1598) granted the Huguenots freedom of worship, but it was revoked in 1685.
1607: Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in America.
1609: John Smith, an English Separatist, founded a Baptist congregation in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1611: The King James Bible was published in England.
1620: The Pilgrims founded Plymouth in what is now Massachusetts.
1625: The Dutch founded New Amsterdam (later named New York City).
1630: The Puritans founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1634: The Calverts, an English Catholic family, settled Maryland. In 1649 they passed the Act of Toleration, which advocated freedom of conscience.
1636: Roger Williams (above) was banished from Massachusetts and founded Providence, Rhode Island, where he advocated freedom of religion.
1638: Anne Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts and helped Roger Williams to found Rhode Island.
1652: George Fox (right) founded the Quaker religion in England.
1681: William Penn, an English Quaker, settled Pennsylvania. He advocated religious toleration.
1730–40: During the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards’s (inset, below) passionate sermons sparked a religious revival that spread through the American colonies.
1738: John Wesley began the Methodist movement in England. The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in America in 1784.
1772: The Shaker movement was founded in England. It was taken to America by Ann Lee in 1774.
1775–83: The American War for Independence was fought.
1776: The American Declaration of Independence was signed.
1788: The United States Constitution was ratified.
1789: George Washington became the first president of the United States.
1791: The Bill of Rights was added to the U.S. Constitution (comprising the first 10 amendments, including freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly).
1796: Joseph Smith Sr. (above) married Lucy Mack (left).
1800–1830: The Second Great Awakening prompted religious fervor in America.
1805: Joseph Smith Jr. was born in Sharon, Vermont.