The Catholic Church had a wide variety of things happening on the eve of the protestant reformation. These things varied from piously holy things to worldly things.
Before the reformation, widespread preaching by figures such as St. Bernardino of Siena and St. John Capistrano held the attention of many Christians resulting in high attendance rates. Many people were completing saintly acts. Pilgrimages to holy places were being accomplished by a few Christians as well.
A Spanish Cardinal, Ximenes, began a similar, but of lesser popularity and radicalness, reformation of the Catholic Church in Spain twenty years before Martine Luther began the major reformation. That is one of the reasons why the Protestant reformation did not spread into Spain as much as other areas of the western world.
On the more worldly side of things, many priests and bishops in the Catholic Church were not fulfilling what was expected of them. Bishops were absent from the posts assigned to them and sometimes did not even set foot in their dioceses- their geographical region of authority. Some church priests were extremely uneducated in the details of Christianity because they had no education or background of what they were practicing. In other words, there were no seminaries, so the priests didn’t go to school to learn details about what they were to be teaching. But, in my personal view, nowadays the whole seminary thing has become a bit too overdone.
In addition to the things happening in the church there was a major industrial breakthrough before the Protestant Reformation. The printing press and moveable type was introduced to the Western World. Johannes Gutenberg was the first in the West to begin using it in the year of 1439. With the invaluable help of this new innovation and the few points stated above, the reformation was rapidly on its way to becoming a major turning point in history.
Photo Credit: Me. This is a cocao pod (the origin of chocolat- yummy!).