Calvin, John

Calvin, John

biographical name

(born July 10, 1509, Noyon, Picardy, France—died May 27, 1564, Geneva, Switz.) French Protestant theologian and major figure of the Reformation. He studied religion at the University of Paris and law in OrlĂ©ans and Bourges. When he returned to Paris in 1531 he studied the Bible and became part of a movement that emphasized salvation by grace rather than by works. Government intolerance prompted him to move to Basel, Switz., where he wrote the first edition of Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536). Gaining a reputation among Protestant leaders, he went to Geneva to help establish Protestantism in that city. He was expelled by city fathers in 1538 but returned in 1541, when the town council instituted the church order outlined in his Ecclesiastical Ordinances, including enforcement of sexual morality and abolition of Catholic “superstition.” He approved the arrest and conviction for heresy of Michael Servetus. By 1555 Calvin had succeeded in establishing a theocracy in Geneva, where he served as pastor and head of the Genevan Academy and wrote the sermons, biblical commentaries, and letters that form the basis of Calvinism.

Variants of CALVIN, JOHN

Calvin, John French Jean Cauvin

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Calvin, John, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Calvin, John? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.