John Calvin

John Calvin

John Calvin

John Calvin


John Calvin (1509-1564) is one of the most important figures in religious history. Sitting on the cusp of the medieval and early modern world, he was centre stage during the Reformation. In this new biography, Michael Mullett introduces us to this most important figure, tying his life together with that of Martin Luther, but also valuing his individual contribution and influence.

From what Calvin himself described as 'humble beginnings', he became one of the most influential theologians of the Protestant Reformation. The influence of his teachings and the development of Christian theology into what was to become known as Calvinism, swept across Europe, reinforcing the Reformation's radical break from the Catholic Church. John Calvin was 'a mighty and formidable man, able to achieve the vast amount he did because of his unbending conviction of his rightness'.

Michael Mullett explores the significant influences on Calvin and his work, and the relationships that he formed along his reforming path. Looking not only at the impact of Calvin throughout the early modern period and the importance of his work to contemporaries, Michael Mullett also assesses the impact that Calvin's works have had in shaping the modern world, and the relevance that they still have today.


This life of Calvin follows my 2004 biography of Luther in the Routledge Historical Biographies series and, in part, traces some of the intellectual and doctrinal links between these two great figures. Both books are also the products of my four decades of teaching the Reformation to generations of gifted and receptive students at my beloved University of Lancaster. In maintaining my post-retirement connections with the University, I am deeply grateful for the kind support of Helen Clish and other members the University Library staff, particularly in facilitating my access to library holdings from a distance.

As usual, I owe other debts of gratitude far and wide for the completion of this book, not least to Routledge for encouraging me to take up this task and to Dr Eve Setch and Vicky Peters for their steady support. A group of anonymous scholars scrutinised the project proposal when I came to it as a relative authorial novice in the subject and made many helpful and positive suggestions to guide my steps. A leading expert in the field has made further, and enormously helpful, comments on a penultimate draft of the work, saving me from overstatements, even though in the end the book has to be my own.

No author in an edited series could wish for a more helpful editor than Bob Pearce is. Lavish with praise for my efforts chapter by chapter and turning drafts around with remarkable speed and care, he has also acted as a wonderful ambassador for the reader, gently, tactfully and firmly demanding of me the clarity and readability of text that the student has a right to expect from the author. He has made my work a pleasure.

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