The Light & the Dark, Volume XXIV
Vicissitudes of Calvinism
The following texts form together Volume XXIV of my series The Light and the Dark. A cultural history of dualism. Volume XXIV has the vicissitudes of Calvinism as its subject.
Chapter I is entitled French Calvinism. One who reads the four parts of this chapter the one after the other will have read the whole chapter. Each part is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- Protestantism coming to France: French Protestantism was mainly Calvinistic; evangelicals, Sacramentists and Zwinglians never became important. Calvinism began in a very modest way, but began to spread quickly after 1560; it had its adherents in all social classes. The government tried to stop it by issuing decrees. Soon the French Calvinists were called `Huguenots'.
- The first three civil wars & St. Bartholomew: In 1561/1562 there was a wave of Huguenot iconoclasm; there was a Catholic reaction. Between the Huguenots and the Catholics there was a party of moderates. The tense situation became one of civil war. The first three civil wars are described, with the anti-Calvinistic orgy of the Night of St.Bartholemew in 1572, and also the Vatican's reaction.
- The later civil wars & the edict of Nantes: There were five more civil wars. They came to an end with the conversion to the Catholic faith of the Protestant King Henry IV in 1593. He issued the Edict of Nantes, which gave the Huguenots a considerable measure of freedom and ushered in a period of peace.
- From the edict of Nantes until its revocation: Richelieu, who became the de facto ruler of France during the reign of King Louis XIII, found that the Huguenots had too much freedom. In 1627 again a civil war broke out, during which the great Huguenot stronghold La Rochelle was captured (1628). After this event there was a period of relative calm lasting half a century. This ended when King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1688.
Chapter 2 is entitled Dutch Calvinism. One who reads the eight parts of it the one after the other will have read the whole chapter. Each part is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- The Habsburg unification policy: This part describes the unification and centralization policy of the Burgundian counts and the Habsburgs in the Low Countries.
- The progress of Calvinism: This part describes the coming of Calvinism in the Low Countries, first in the south (Belgium) and then in the north (the present Netherlands). Protestants were persecuted and emigrated en masse; there were refugee Churches, the most important in London and in Emden. The work of centralization went on: Charles V gave the Low Countries a new diocesan organization, with the highly impopular Granvelle at its head.
- Calvinism and the revolt - discontent & iconoclasm: Philip II, King of Spain, was now Lord of the Netherlands. His policy caused resistance among all classes of the population, especially the persecution of the Protestants, but also his tax policy. 1566 was the year of the great iconoclasm. The Low Countries were in a state of rebellion.
- Alva's policy & the first phase of the revolt: Philip II sent a strong army under Alva to suppress the rebellion. Alva instituted a special tribunal to judge the rebels. There were many victims, two counts among them. William of Orange became the leader of the revolt that now broke out. Alva made things only worse and was recalled.
- The second phase of the revolt: He was succeeded by Requesens who was also not very successful. The siege of Leiden, 1573/1574, is described. He too was recalled. In the southern Netherlands there was much opposition against Calvinist aggressiveness, with the result that the Netherlands split into two. Parma reconquered the whole south for the king.
- The dominant reformed church & Oldenbarnevelt's rise to power: In the liberated north the Netherlands Reformed Church became firmly established; public exercize of the Catholic religion was forbidden. Protestantization went on. During the Twelve Years' Truce, 1609-1621, the two leaders of the new Republic, Prince Maurits, the successful military commander, and Oldenbarnevelt, the all-powerful political leader. fell out with another.
- The conflict within the reformed church - Arminius versus Gomarus: During the same period there was a conflicct in the Reformed Church, between the strict Calvinists, led by Gomarus, and a more moderate party, that of Arminius. The tension spilled over into the public sphere; the politicians began to occupy themselves with it.
- Remonstrants & Contraremonstrants - the conflict between Maurits and Oldenbarnevelt: The Arminians came to be called the `Remonstrants' and the Gomarists the `Counter-Remonstrants'. The situation began to tend to civil war, when the leaders choose sides, Maurits for the Counter-Remonstrants, and Oldenbarnevelt for the Remonstrants, still more so when Oldenbarnevelt began to mobilize an army. In 1619 Oldenbarnevelt was arrested and executed. At the Synod of Dordt the Remonstrants were expelled from the Reformed Church.
This chapter is entitled Scottish Calvinism. One who reads the three parts the one after the other will have read the whole chapter. Each part is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- John Knox - from Catholic priest to Protestant minister: There was hardly any Protestantism in Scotland before 1555. In 1542 the six-days-old Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland. The problems of finding a husband for her are described. The career of the Scottish reformer John Knox is also described.
- John Knox - from Protestant minister to Calvinistic reformer: It was only in 1554 that Knox, although no longer a Catholic, became a Calvinist. After twelve years of erring abroad he returned to Scotland. Calvinism quickly gained ground. There were armed incidents and iconoclasm. In 1560 Scotland became the first Calvinistic state.
- The Scottish Kirk & the fate of Mary Stuart: The organization of the Scottish Kirk is described. In 1560 Queen Mary Stuart, who had been living in France, returned to Scotland, so that the officially Reformed country, had a staunchly Catholic queen. She had four conversations with Knox. Soon a civil war broke out. In 1567 Mary fled to England.
This chapter is entitled English Calvinism. The one who reads the six parts the one after the other will have read the whole chapter. Each part is concluded with the relevant literature and with notes.
- England's confused religious situation (1500-1558): The coming of the Reformation to England is described, with the reign of Calvinistic boy-king Edward VII (1547-1553); there was iconoclasm. Mary Tudor (1553-1558) was a Catholic; her reign became a time of re-catholization and persecution of Protestants.
- Puritans, Catholics, and the House of Stuart: During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) the religious situation was stabilized; England became neither Lutheran nor Calvinistic, but Anglican. Its national Church was the Church of England, the Anglican Church. To the English Calvinists, the Puritans or Presbyterians, this was not the true Church. The exercize of the Catholic religion was forbidden. In 1603 the Stuart period of England began, with the succession of James VI of Scotland as James I of England and the personal union of the two countries. The plot against the Establishment, the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, is described.
- The reign of the unfortunate King Charles I (1625-1642): The personal rule of King Charles I (1625-1649) did not make things better. His Scottish policy is described. The career of Oliver Cromwell is related. The king was evermore driven into a tight corner.
- The Civil War (1642-1645): The ever growing tensions led to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, between the royalist party, led by the king, and the parliamentary party, mainly the Puritans, led by Cromwell. Cromwell's New Model Army is described.
- King Charles's fate (1646-1648): Parliament was the new sovereign of England. The king was finally caught. His imprisonment, trial and execution are described.
- The Commonwealth and the Protectorate (1648-1660): The adventurous life of Prince Charles (II) is described. All power rested with Parliament, and in practice with Lord Protector Cromwell. The Presbyterian Church became the national Church. The rise of Quakerism is described. After Cromwell his son Richard was Lord Protector, but he was ousted in 1660 by a military coup. The Restoration made Charles II king and the Church of England once again the national Church.