Martin Bucer (1491-1551)

The reformer of Strasbourg

He was born in Alsace, was a humanist and tried all his life long to safeguard the unity of the Church.

A humanist and appeaser

  • Martin Bucer (1491-1551) © S.H.P.F.

His father was a barrel-maker and his mother a midwife. Martin Bucer became a Dominican and studied theology for ten years.

He met Luther in 1518 and adopted his ideas. After leaving the Dominicans he married a former nun, and was excommunicated.

Then he went to Strasbourg where he set up Bible reading classes and presented the Reformation in 1529. He received Calvin who had been expelled from Geneva in 1538.

Throughout his life he was a humanist and tried to safeguard the unity of the Church. He attempted but failed in trying to reconcile Luther and Zwingli who disagreed over the Eucharist (Holy Communion). He received in Strasbourg the persecuted anabaptists. He also tried to bring the Catholics and the Protestants to agree on some points, but failed.

Exiled in England

He was expelled from Strasbourg by Charles V, and took refuge in Cambridge. He taught there until his death, and played a major part in establishing the anglican Reformation.

Author: Jacqueline de Rouville

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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.
  • Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

    Zwingli, a pastor and theologian, based the Reformation on Bible study. In his opinion the Reformation comprised fighting social injustice.
  • The radical Reformation in 16th century

    The expression “radical Reformation” was given to a complex and multifarious movement that found the lutherans and the swiss Reformers not daring enough, and considered that the Reformation had only...
  • The Anglican Reformation in 16th century

    The secession of the Church of England in 1534 opens the gates to the Protestant influence.
  • The Calvinist Reformation in 16th century

    The Reformation later known as Calvinist movement was launched by several reformers and spread to many parts of Europe, from Zurich and Geneva.
  • The Lutheran Reformation

    Luther initiated a reformation movement with the aim of correcting the practices as well as the doctrine of the Church. He did not intend to found a new Church. But...
  • The Reformation in Alsace in 16th century

    The Reformation began very early in Alsace and was soon well established. In Strasbourg, it had two characteristics : moderation and an insistence on the Bible study. Martin Bucer’s influence spread...

Associated tours