François Wendel (1905-1972)

François Wendel was a lutheran lawyer who devoted much study to the Reformation movement, religious institutions in Alsace and Calvin. He was appointed Dean to the protestant University of Strasbourg, where he contributed to the revival of this institution.

A historian

François Wendel studied at the University of Law and Economics in Strasbourg ; the subject of his thesis (1928) was Marriage in Strasbourg at the time of the Reformation movement. The choice of this subject showed his interest in the history of religious institutions. From 1930 to 1938 he was general secretary of the Alsatian Committee of Studies and Information and from 1936 to 1938 he was Secretary of the powerful Society of Friends of the University of Strasbourg ; this position enabled him to discover the nazi policy towards religious organizations when he was making trips to Germany.

The subject of the thesis of his masters degree The constitution and organization of the Church of Strasbourg was another study of the history of religious institutions. The thesis of his doctorate (1946) : Calvin, the sources and evolution of his religious thought, translated into both English and German, showed he was also interested in the history of ideas. He led the international committee which undertook the translation of the works of the Strasbourg reformer Martin Bucer.

An academic

  • The theology university in the university palace, Strasbourg (Bas-Rhin)

François Wendel studied theology at the same time as his other activities. He followed the University of Strasbourg when it withdrew to Clermont-Ferrand where he became a senior lecturer in 1942. In 1953 he was appointed to the chair of History of Christianity. He was elected Dean of the Theology University. During his deanship (1955-1967) two new centres of study were set up : the Centre for Theological Study and Teaching Methods and the Centre for Theological Study and the Analysis of Patristics.

When he was a member of the University Council, he was head of the Centre for the History of Religions, an organization which was common to both the History Institute of the Faculty of Literature and the two Theology Faculties.


  • Books
    • ENCREVE André (dir.), Les protestants, Beauchesne, Paris, 1993

Associated tours

  • Protestants in Alsace since 1871

    Few French provinces have experienced as many traumatic experiences as Alsace, twice annexed to the German Reich and twice returned to France. The Protestant community participated, with varying degrees of...

Associated notes

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  • Charles Westphal (1896-1972)

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  • Charles Seignobos (1854-1942)

    Charles Seignobos, a protestant, and a leading figure of the French school of history. He was known for his scientific precision and neutrality in matters of religion.
  • Charles Gide (1847-1932)

    Charles Gide was a theorist of social economy and a leading figure in the French economic cooperative movement and Christian socialism. A spirit of solidarity pervades all his work.