chapter  1
20 Pages

‘Obscure and lowly beginnings’

Calvin’s earlier years

This introduction presents an overveiw of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents the autobiography of John Calvin. Calvin's two laconic autobiographical recollections cited here are taken from the preface he supplied to his 1557 Commentary on the Book of Psalms, the Commentaire des psaumes, and also from the dedication of his edition, published in 1532, of a work by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca, the De Clementia. These reminiscences of his should not necessarily be accepted as an accurate sociological analysis of Calvin's origins. Born in Noyon in Picardy on 10 July 1509, Jean, or Jehan, Cauvin, known to us as John Calvin, was the second of four or five brothers. Through his intensive education Calvin was later to acquire academic polish at the Universities of Paris, Orleans and Bourges and eventually to become a cosmopolitan figure of European importance.