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The Impact of Reformation


The Reformation was always about more than Luther and 'Lutheranism', and neither was it a uniquely German phenomenon. In this seminar we will think about developments in the decades after Luther's death, and particularly about the second major wave of Protestant beliefs and organization - the individuals and groups known as 'the Reformed' and sometimes as 'Calvinists', after their leading figure Jean Calvin. A particular concern of this seminar will be to try and understand the connections between religious doctrine and actual lived experience: we will tackle the questions of what it was about their beliefs that drove Calvinists in different parts of Europe to try to transform society, and seek to assess whether we should judge their efforts a success or a failure.



  • Account for the international spread of Calvinism/Reformed Protestantism in later sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century Europe?
  • What drove the Calvinist desire to ‘purify’ Church and society?
  • How successfully did the Reformation transform popular beliefs and attitudes in Protestant lands?



William Perkins, Survey or table declaring the order of the causes of salvation and damnation according to God’s word

Questions about the source:

  • which theological idea is the chart seeking to express and explain?
  • why do you think Perkins chose this format to put his ideas across?
  • can we imagine the emotional responses of people using this chart?



Eire, Carlos, ‘Calvinism and the Reform of the Reformation’, in P. Marshall (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Reformation (2015), pp. 76-114



Johnson, Trevor, ‘The Reformation and Popular Culture’, in in A. Pettegree, (ed.), The Reformation World (2000), chap 30, pp. 545-60 (ebook)

Kümin, Beat, ‘Rural Society’, in Ulinka Rublack (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Protestant Reformations (2016 [Oxford Handbooks online]

Kingdon, Robert M., ‘Calvin and Geneva’ in R. Hsia (ed.), A Companion to the Reformation World (2006) (ebook), pp. 115-17

Marshall, Peter, ‘Religious Culture in Early Modern Europe’, in Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World (3rd ed, 2018), pp. 135-45

Roberts, Penny, ‘The Long Reformation: Reformed’, in Beat Kümin (ed.), The European World (3rd ed, 2018), pp. 113-23

Strauss, ‘Success and failure in the German Reformation’, Past and Present, 67 (1975)



Benedict, P., Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (2002) (ebook)

Gordon, Bruce, Calvin (2009) (ebook)

Hsia, R. P., Social Discipline in the Reformation 1550-1750 (1989)

J.M. Kittelson, ‘Successes and Failures in the German Reformation: Strasbourg’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte/Archive for Reformation History 73 (1982)

Murdock, Graeme, Beyond Calvin: The Intellectual, Political and Cultural World of Europe's Reformed Churches (2004)

Naphy, William G., ‘Calvin and Geneva’, in A. Pettegree, (ed.), The Reformation World (2000), chap 18, pp. 309-22 (ebook)

Nelson Burnett, Amy, ‘The Social History of Communion and the Reformation of the Eucharist’, Past and Present, 211 (2011), 77-119.

Parker, ‘Success and failure during the first century of the Reformation’, Past and Present, 136 (1992)

Pettegree, A. et al. (eds), Calvinism in Europe, 1540-1620 (1994)

Prestwich, M. (ed.), International Calvinism, 1541-1715 (1985)

Scribner, B. et al. (eds), The Reformation in National Context (1994) (ebook), esp. chs. 2-6

Todd, M., The Culture of Protestantism in Early Modern Scotland (2002)