About French churches and
astrology : Calvin understood and misunderstood

From sensitivity to evangelical trends to organising the French Reformed Church in the 16th century.

  • The Institution de la Religion Chrétienne by Jean Calvin
  • Geneva in 1602 © B.P.U. Genève
  • Map of Strasburg in the 17th century. © S.H.P.F.
  • Jean Calvin, copper etching by René Boyvin, 1562
  • Exhibit on Calvin 2009

From the 1520s the first editions and English translations of Luther’s treatises were enthusiastically welcomed in France among both religious and humanism influenced literary circles.

The great interest spread to the entourage of Francois 1st and to a number of noble families. But there were worrying consequences which led to bans on, and persecutions of, those who wanted reform of the Catholic Church based on these basic evangelical ideas.

Nevertheless, the Reformed movement still kept growing in France, pervaded by Calvin’s ideas, as expressed in his Institution de la religion chrétienne (Institution of the Christian Religion) – published in Latin in 1536 and in French in 1541.

Calvin was compelled to leave France after “Placards Day” (Poster Day) in 1534, but, from places where he was welcomed – Strasbourg and Geneva – he never stopped encouraging those who had stayed in France, who shared his hope and tried to propagate it.

As a testimony to his struggle and demands we offer :

  • A choice of important letters written regularly to the Reformed Church in France ;
  • A rigorous text on what is to be feared from judiciary astrology.

Progress in the exhibition

Associated notes

  • Jean Calvin (1509-1564)

    A generation after Luther, the Frenchman Jean Calvin became the organiser of the Reformation : he organised the Church, shaped the doctrine and defined the role of the Church in state government.