Timeline of the Swiss Reformation


Huldrich Zwingli by Hans Asper, about 1531.
Huldrich Zwingli by Hans Asper, about 1531.

1484 – Huldrych Zwingli was born.

1499 – War between the Swabian League and the Swiss Cantons and a Swiss victory forces the Treaty of Basel, granting Swiss independence:-

The Treaty of Basel was an armistice to end the war between Switzerland and the Swabian League, which was a peace-keeping Imperial organisation. The war had lasted nine months and the Emperor Maximilian I was forced to sign a treaty due to an unprecedented Swiss victory.

1509 – John Calvin is born in Noyon, France.

1513 – Peasant and labour rebellions spread outwards from Switzerland.

1522 – Zwingli marries in secret and signs a petition with 10 other ministers to ask the Bishop of Constance for permission to marry; Zwingli also writes his Apologeticus Archeteles as a testimony of his faith.

1523 – Zwingli holds a debate on images and the mass, and recommends that images are removed from churches across Switzerland.

1525 – Zwingli writes two anti-Anabaptist pamphlets after a public disputation on infant baptism, entitled On Baptism and On the Preaching Office:-

Anabaptists are not supported by either Catholics or Protestants as it is distinct from both movements. They believe in baptising when people are adults and can make their own decisions and decide their own faith, rather than when people are infants so cannot make their own decisions.

1529 – Zwingli and Luther meet for the first time in Marburg for a few days of discussion.

1531 – Zwingli is killed in battle.

1533 – Calvin flees Paris for Switzerland.

1534 – William Farel was appointed as Geneva’s first Protestant priest; Calvin formally breaks with Roman Catholicism, and is possibly imprisoned for a short time.

1536 – The Reformation is proclaimed in Geneva; Calvin publishes the first edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

1537 – In January, a Protestant Statement of Faith is presented to the Genevan City Council.

John Calvin by Hans Holbein.
John Calvin by Hans Holbein.

1538 – Calvin and Farel are banished from Geneva; Calvin settles in Strasbourg.

1540 – In March, Calvin publishes the Commentary of the Epistles of the Romans in Strasbourg, and gets married.

1541 – Calvin returns to Geneva; the Ordonnances Ecclesiastiques are adopted:-

The Council of Geneva passed the Ordonnances Ecclesiastiques on 20th November 1541 and they defined four ministerial functions: pastors to preach and administer sacraments, doctors to instruct in faith, elders to provide discipline, and deacons to care for the poor and needy.

1545 – In April, Pierre Ameaux is sentenced to public repentance for defaming Calvin.

1550 – Switzerland begins to shelter religious refugees from England, France, the Netherlands and Spain, among others.

1553 – Servetus, Spanish theologian and physician, was executed in Geneva as a heretic:-

Michael Servetus was also a Renaissance humanist, and studied the Bible in its original languages. He developed a nontrinitarian Christology, which rejected the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He was disliked by both Protestants and Catholics, and he was arrested in Geneva and burnt at the stake as a heretic, on the order of the Protestant Geneva governing council.

1555 – A public riot is instigated by the Libertines (meaning those who are morally lax) which is what Calvin called his opponents, and it fails.

1557 – The Geneva New Testament is published.

1559 – The Genevan Academy is founded:-

The Genevan Academy was established based on a similar school run by Johannes Sturm at Strasbourg. The private school section taught Latin, Greek and Literature, to prepare for university. The public school section taught primarily as a seminary for training Protestant clergy, and extended the influence of Protestantism and Calvinism across Europe.

1560 – The Genevan Bible is published for the first time (Old and New Testament).

1564 – John Calvin died and is buried in an unmarked grave; Theodore Beza writes the Life of Calvin and posthumously publishes Calvin’s Commentary on Joshua.

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