French religious leader (1509-1564). A leading Protestant Reformation theologian, he imposed austere and Puritan habits on his followers.
Like Luther, Calvin was also of great importance in the so-called Protestant Reformation. He was born in Noyon, France, and studied Latin in Paris and Law in Orleans, where he became interested in theology and Bible study. In Burgos, in addition to other French cities, he began to disseminate his reformist doctrines. In 1535, he joined Nicolas Cop, rector of the University of Paris, when he announced his support for Martin Luther. Accused of heresy, both were forced to leave Paris. In 1536 Calvin published the first edition of his The Institution of the Christian Religion, a concise and provocative study that placed him at the forefront of European Protestantism.
That same year, he visited Geneva and was invited to participate in the city's reform movement. Calvin remained in Geneva until 1538. But then, because of his radical views, especially as regards morals and religion, he also had to leave the city and settled in Strasbourg, where he actively participated in religious life until 1541. In Strasbourg, Calvin published the first of his numerous volume commentaries on the books of the Bible. That same year, however, he was persuaded to return to Geneva, where he was not only religious leader but also ruler and political leader. Since then, Geneva has become Europe's leading Protestant center. Calvin imposed austere habits on the citizens. Gambling, dancing, and singing that were not linked to the church, for example, were prohibited. And people suspected of witchcraft, as well as those who disagreed with Calvin, were burned alive in bonfires. Calvin, who represented the most conservative and puritanical face of Protestantism, died in Geneva on May 27, 1564.