All Subjects



AP Euro



Unit 2

2.6 16th-Century Society & Politics in Europe

2 min readmay 11, 2020


Sharii Liang

AP European History 🇪🇺

Bookmarked 3.6k • 317 resources
See Units

The Social Ladder

Despite this period of religious upheaval, societal classes largely remained the same. In fact, religion made the lines clearer than ever. Most nobles became Protestants, and most monarchs remained Catholic. Owning land was still considered a symbol of being high class, and the aristocratic classes still received tax reductions and legal protection that was never granted to the lower classes.

Women Are…?

Prevailing ideas about gender still existed. Men and women still did completely separate tasks with men being the breadwinners, and women being the caretakers. 
Women were expected to be the bearer of children, submissive to their husbands, and responsible for educating them, no matter what class they were in. Noble women had more children than poorer women, however, due to the availability of wet nurses.
The Renaissance and Reformation raised crucial questions about educating women and what role they could play in society other than rearing children. Were women capable of being educated… were they even smart? Should they be allowed to become preachers? Generally, the answer was no, but they gained a bit more education and freedom, nonetheless.
🎥 Watch: AP European History - Reformation


Morality Above All Else

With the Catholic Church too focused on stopping the wave of anti-Catholic sentiment, cities were left to regulate public morality. Often times, the punishments were public and humiliating for all to see. 🙈
Society was focused around being moral and acting pious every day of the year. To reinforce this, sinners would be publicly whipped, branded, or put in the stocks for all to gawk at. Citizens could even write tips for the government to investigate their neighbors or others.

Men in the Stocks


Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Persisting medieval ideas and the turmoil of the time led a rise in accusations of witchcraft. As debates about women increased, so did the persecution of supposed witches which led to many deaths (Salem Witch Trials and Joan of Arc!)

Community and Leisure

For peasants and the lower classes, leisure revolved around agriculture and the religious calendar. They would usually host festivities on days that celebrated Saints (Saint Bartholomew’s Day) by hosting large, public festivals. Because of how unruly some of these festivals were, cities would ban religious events like Carnival. 🎉

Was this guide helpful?

Join us on Discord
Thousands of students are studying with us for the AP European History exam.
join now
Hours Logo
Studying with Hours = the ultimate focus mode
Start a free study session
🔍 Are you ready for college apps?
Take this quiz and find out!
Start Quiz
Browse Study Guides By Unit
📆Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep
📝Long Essay Questions (LEQ)
🚀Thematic Guides
🎨Unit 1: Renaissance and Exploration
⛪️Unit 2: Age of Reformation
👑Unit 3: Absolutism and Constitutionalism
🤔Unit 4: Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments
🥖Unit 5: Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century
🚂Unit 6: Industrialization and Its Effects
Unit 7: 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments
💣Unit 8: 20th-Century Global Conflicts
🥶Unit 9: Cold War and Contemporary Europe
FREE AP euro Survival Pack + Cram Chart PDF
Sign up now for instant access to 2 amazing downloads to help you get a 5
Join us on Discord
Thousands of students are studying with us for the AP European History exam.
join now
💪🏽 Are you ready for the AP Euro exam?
Take this quiz for a progress check on what you’ve learned this year and get a personalized study plan to grab that 5!
Play this on HyperTyper
Practice your typing skills while reading 16th-Century Society & Politics in Europe
Start Game