Four hundred and ninety-three years ago this month a German monk sent a letter to the Bishop of Mainz complaining about the Church practice of selling "indulgences"; that is, the forgiveness of earthly sins in return for hard, cold cash.
The result, eventually, was a series of rebellions, revolts, massacres, and wars that harrowed Europe from the gray coast of Dunnet Head to the sunny sands of the Côte d'Azur, from the dark headlands of Brittany to the dark forests of central Silesia. We will never know how many lives were taken amid what horrors of murder and rape and ruin and merciless hatred.
All because many people of the day couldn't agree whose church was Church and whose god was God.
Catholics and Protestants, and those who wanted to use Catholicism and Protestantism to advance their less-elevated ambitions, butchered and harried each other for over a century, from the "Peasant's War" in 1524 to the final bloody brutalities of the Thirty Years War in 1648 and the subjugation of Ireland in 1651. The hatreds bred bone-deep still linger along today; ask anyone in Belfast or, for that matter, in the stands at Ibrox or Celtic Park.
The peoples of North America, having sprung largely from refugees of those fights or from fugitives from the very idea of such fighting, did not take their religions to the bayonet point before the modern nations of Canada and the United States were founded.
And, given that despite the lies you will often hear from those whose collection plates and political wherewithal grow from the ignorance of those lies both nations were founded largely by men with little or no use for a formal coupling of religion and the state, since the founding North America has largely been a place where religion, as Mark Twain described it, has become like dandruff; something that many people have "...and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it."
But not to the point of killing other people over.
And that, to my mind, is a very good thing.
Religion, and its quiet companion, faith, can produce great things from the mind and the hands; art, music, and literature, love, forgiveness, and kindness, comfort and mercy.
But those same can - and only can - produce the blackest of human cruelty and pitiless destruction.
A good man or woman can do good from the heart within them; an evil man or woman can do evil from their heartlessness. Only belief that doing death and giving out pain is pleasing to a God can cause a good man or woman to do great evil.
I'm going to suggest that we are seeing the Peasant's Revolt of the umma, the first violent spasms of the Islamic Eighty Years War; that the Muslim world has embarked on its own Wars of Religion, and for the next decades - and only decades, if we are lucky - we will see this war fought out amongst, and between, groups and nations wherever those professing one sort of Islam or another butt up against themselves.
Unfortunately, this will also mean that some of us living in the unchurched lands outside the Muslim world, the peoples and places that outgrew our infantile religious wars will be killed by the violent spray of this religious warfare.
Collateral damage, as it were, of the Islamic Wars of Religion.
Only those living within the places where the Muslim faith is practiced can, by doing what the West did and rejecting religion itself as temporal government, rejecting religious "law" as temporal law and religious mores as social strictures, do that. And that is what must happen - there is no middle ground. There can be no theocracy lite, no half-measures of an "Islamic State" any more than there could be compromise between the Catholics and the Protestants in the Holy Roman Empire in 1558.
Simply stated, Islam cannot stand half wahhabi and half free. The wahhabis, the jihadis, the rapists of unveiled women, the killers of unbelieving men, will not let it. It must become all one, or all the other.
We, the West, can help those who stand against these unholy holy men that kill for Allah as we stood - eventually, too late, far too late, but finally - against those who killed for Christ.
But if we respond to the barbarism of the jihadis by becoming ourselves Arnaud-Amalric we will lose even if we win. If we respond with panic, with fear, by sacrificing our laws and our liberties, we will defeat ourselves.
So we will simply have to learn to live with, and accept, that we will lose our lives, some of us, even the highest among us, in this war that is neither ours to fight nor to win. To accept those losses and go on without sacrificing ourselves to our panic fear.
On the evening of July 10, 1584 the then-leader of the Protestant revolt in the Low Countries of what is today's Belgium and the Netherlands was the Prince of Orange, William, first of that name and often called de Zwijger or "The Silent". He seems to have been a man of few words.
But of deeds, many. He was a leader in the Protestant rebellion against Catholic Spain and is still today revered in the Netherlands as a good ruler and a founder of the nation. But to a Catholic named Balthasar Gérard he was just a traitor to his Spanish king and a heretic to his Catholic religion.
So Gérard picked up a couple of wheel-lock pistols, the Desert Eagles of his day, infiltrated Delft, and met William as the Prince was leaving his house where he had just enjoyed a quiet dinner with a guy named Rombertus van Uylenburgh.
William got to the bottom of the stairs and Van Uylenburgh heard Gérard shoot William twice in the chest at close range. The Prince died on the pavement.
The Dutch set up a monument to the dead man and carried on.
As should we.