chapter  9
21 Pages

Calvin’s meridian, Calvin’s apotheosis

The year 1559 was the high-water mark of John Calvin's achievement in the sense of his completing labours on which he had worked for many years and of his realising long-cherished ambitions. The foundation of a first-rate school in Geneva meant the fulfilment of a promise that the city had made to itself, at Calvin's instigation, in the Ecclesiastical Ordinances of 1541. In 1556 Calvin, victorious over his political opponents, cranked up the educational plan promised in the Ordinances by suggesting to the Petit Conseil an extension of the school at Rive. The academic staff and ministers had fallen out with their paymasters, Bern, specifically over the former's adhesion to Calvinist views, especially on predestination, so they were immediately identifiable as Calvin's supporters. Beza and Calvin might not have appreciated the comparison, but a similar, indeed more frankly stated, set of priorities guided the educational ethos of the Catholic Church's Society of Jesus.