Biographies of Famous Lutherans
First posted on January 17th 2003, last revised on November 15th 2004

External Links : Biographies to the History of the Calvinist Reformation

For links on general biographical sources, go to Biographies Main Page

Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon (ÖH), in German; concise biographies
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), in German, scholarly
Catherine Winkworth, Christian Singers of Germany, a site dealing with hymn singers from the 8th century to 1850
The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol.I : Aachen-Basilians, Vol.II : Basilica-Chambers, Vol.III : Chamier-Draendorf, Vol.IV : Draeseke-Goa, Vol.V : Goar-Innocent Vol.VI : Innocent-Liudger, Vol.VII : Liutprand-Moralities, Vol.VIII : Morality-Petersen, Vol.IX : Petri-Reuchlin, Vol.X : Reutsch-Son, Vol.XI : Son of Man-Tremellius, Vol.XII : Trench-Zwingli
Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907-1913 edition
Women of the Reformation, by Barry McWilliams
Printed Reference : Biographies related to the History of Calvinism

Biographies of Famous Calvinists


Arminius, Jacobus (Jakob Harmenszoon), 1560-1609
Studied at Leiden since 1576, in Geneva 1582 under THEODORE DE BEZA; in 1588 appointed preacher in Amsterdam. Was accused of diverting from Calvinist orthodoxy. In 1603 appointed professor at Leiden. Founder of ARMINIANISM; his supporters in the Netherlands were referred to as REMONSTRANTS. Participated in a disputation with GOMARUS in 1608, which did not lead to any decision.

German language biography, from BBKL

Beza, Theodore de (Theodore de Beze), 1519-1605
Studied at Orleans, professed protestant confession in 1544, moved to Geneva in 1548. Since 1549 he taught Greek at the University of Lausanne. In 1559 called to Geneva as the first dean of the newly founded Academy. In the religious talks of 1561 at Poissy de Beza acted as speaker of the HUGUENOTS; early in the Huguenot wars he acquired credit with which to finance action on the Huguenot side. In 1564 he succeeded JEAN CALVIN in Geneva. He wrote a biography of Calvin.

German language biography from BBKL

Bres, Guy de (Guido de Bray), 1522-1567
Learnt the trade of glass painting; turned to protestantism, fled persecution in 1548 (to England), returned in 1552, fled again in 1556, to Frankfurt, from where he proceeded to Lausanne (THEODORE DE BEZA) and Geneva (JEAN CALVIN). Since 1557 preacher in Tournai, Sedan, Antwerp, Valenciennes; wrote the CONFESSIO BELGICA (1561); was in Tournai when the city rebelled in 1566; was arrested and executed in 1567.

German language biography from BBKL

Bullinger, Heinrich, 1504-1575
Studied in Cologne 1519; turned toward protestantism after reading Luther's publications. Since 1523 he was teacher at the Cistercian monastery at Kappel (Switzerland), where the reformation was implemented in 1526-1527. Bullinger was elected preacher in Bremgarten in 1529, successor to HULDRYCH ZWINGLI in Zürich in 1531. Reorganized the Swiss protestant church; wrote a PREACHER AND SYNOD ORDINNANCE (1532), supported MARTIN BUCER's attempt to breach the gap between Lutheranism and the Upper German reformation; in 1549 signed the CONSENSUS TIGURINUS which eliminated the discrepancies regarding the interpretation of the communion; Switzerland's other protestant churches accepted it, thus joining the Swiss Calvinist church. German language biography from BBKL

Jean Calvin 1509-1564

Farel, Guillaume (Wilhelm Farel), 1489-1565
Studied in Paris, attracted to protestantism by D'ETAPLES; went to Meaux where he was appointed France's first protestant priest (1521); when persecution set in he fled to Basel (OEKOLAMPAD), participated in the BERN DISPUTATION of 1528, established contact with the WALDENSIANS, settled in Geneva in 1533; appealed to JEAN CALVIN, who was passing through, to stay in Geneva (1536). A 1535 sermon by Farel caused an iconoclastic riot and the formal acceptance of the reformation by Geneva. Was expelled in 1538.

German language biography from BBKL

Gomarus, Franciscus 1563-1648
Studied in STRASSBURG under JOHANNES STURM, in Neustadt, Oxford, Cambridge and Heidelberg. In 1587 appointed priest of the Dutch community in Frankfurt, in 1594 professor at the Univ. of Leiden. When Arminius taught that nobody had been predestined to damnation and thus challenged the theory of absolute predestination, Gomarus became a severe critic. The issue was not decided upon in a 1608 disputation, but in the SYNOD OF DORDT which decided in favour of the Gomarists.

German language biography, from BBKL

Knox, John, 1514-1572
Studied in Glasgow, ordained a priest in 1536. Influenced by Thomas Gwilliam and George Wishart he leaned toward protestantism. When Wishart was burnt at the stake in 1546, his supporters broke out in rebellion and elected John Knox their preacher. The rebellion was crushed by French troops in 1547; John Knox was held prisoner until 1549. Was priest in Berwick on Tweed, 1551-1554 in Newcastle upon Tyne; was opposed to the institution of bishops. In 1554 he fled England (where Bloody Mary ruled) and moved to Geneva, where he served as a preacher to the community of English refugees and where he worked on the GENEVA BIBLE.
In 1557 Scotland's protestant nobles founded a congregation for the defense of the protestant church. John Knox returned; he proclaimed the abolition of idols, causing an iconoclastic fury, the plundering of monasteries. Knox functioned as the Scottish representative in Anglo-Scottish-French negotiations. In 1560 Scotland's parliament accepted the CONFESSIO SCOTICA. Catholic rite was forbidden. Knox organized the establishment of Scotland's Presbyterian Church. When the Queen was arrested in 1567, Knox demanded her execution. Among his publications "The blast of a Trumpet against the Terrible Regiment of Women".

German language biographies from BBKL

Lasco, Johannes a (Jan Laski), 1499-1560
Born in Poland, studied in Bologna and Padova, ordained a priest in 1521, met Erasmus in Basel in 1524, contacted ZWINGLI and OEKOLAMPAD; administrated the Archdiocesis of Gniezno 1530-1531. Travelled to Leuven, where he married in 1540; settled in EMDEN where he was appointed preacher at the Grosse Kirche. He formally broke with the Catholic Church, and in 1544 was declared a heretic by the Polish Church. He organized reformed (Calvinist) communities in East Frisia (1543-1549), London (1550-1553), Denmark (1553), Emden (1553-1555), Frankfurt/Main (1555-1556). His work to establish a Polish Reformed Church remained uncompleted.

German language biography, from BBKL

Zwingli, Huldrych (Ulrich Zwingli), 1484-1531


Since 1870

Kuyper, Abraham, 1837-1920
Studied theology in Leiden; appointed priest at Beesd in 1863. Turned toward Calvinist orthodoxy. Broke with the Nederlandse Hervormde Kerk which had the character of a state church and established a People's Church (a Calvinist schismatic church denying the state the right to interfere). In 1878 he founded the ANTI-REVOLUTIONARY PARTY; was instrumental in the foundation of AMSTERDAM FREE UNIVERSITY (1880). Served as prime minister of the Netherlands 1901-1905.

German language biography, from BBKL

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