John Calvin's brilliant mind, powerful preaching, many books and large correspondence, and capacity for organisation and administration made him an important influence of the Reformation. He was particularly influential in Switzerland, England, Scotland and colonial North America.
Calvin was born in Noyon, France, on July 10, 1509. He was educated in Paris, Orleans and Bourges and studied Greek and Latin at the University of Paris. Unlike other Reformation leaders, Calvin was probably never ordained as a priest.
By 1533, Calvin had declared himself a Protestant and in 1534, he settled in Basel Switzerland. Here in 1536, he published the first edition of his 'Institutes of the Christian Religion'. Calvin was immediately recognised for this book and expanded it throughout his life.
On a trip to Strasbourg in 1536, Calvin had to detour through Geneva. His plan was to only stay a night but was persuaded by Farel, a church reformer, to stay and help him.
He was there for two years but was banished after a vote by the townspeople and continued onto Strasbourg where he married and spent many years as a pastor. While in Strasbourg he wrote his commentary on the book of Romans.
In 1541 the Genevans invited him back and asked him to join them in reforming the church. He remained here for the rest of his life.
Calvin drafted new laws that the government modified and adopted as the constitution for Geneva, covering both secular and sacred matters. He supported the development of the school system for all children and the formation of the Geneva academy, which became a full university. He sought to improve the lives of the citizens of the city by way of good hospitals, a proper sewage system, rails on tall buildings, care for the poor and infirm and the...