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calvin in chapters

John Calvin, the despot from Geneva?

Childhood and Student Years

Conversion to the Reformation

First and second stay in Geneva

Building up of the Geneva Church

Final years

All Texts © Georg Plasger/reformed-online.de

calvin bio: résumé

John Calvin

A French humanist and supporter of the protestant reformation, John Calvin, a refugee in Geneva, transformed the provincial town into an intellectual capital of Europe whose political and ecclesiastical institutions would in subsequent centuries serve as models of democratic development for modern societies. Over the years, he was able to attract to Geneva renowned scholars, highly qualified craftsmen and more modest families fleeing persecution. He thereby boosted the economic dynamism of the region: to which the development of watch-making and banking activities remain a testament to this day. At the same time, he was able to make Geneva a land of refuge, by inspiring local attitudes with liberal and generous views.

As both a lawyer and theologian, Calvin was deeply involved in the reorganization of political and social institutions: he fought for a fair relationship between Church and State; his views on law gave the justice system a solid ethical foundation; and by reorganizing the General Hospice, he brought concern for the poor back to its place in the life of the town. Perhaps his crowning achievement was the creation of the College and the Academy, where the quality education offered to all, without distinction, ensured the wider influence of a model dynamic society that was open to the world and to development.

The French-speaking world can also thank Calvin – elegant Latinist, renowned polemist and great theologian – for his decisive contribution to the development of the French language, turning it into the kind of scholarly language that was suitable for formulating and sharing ideas.