By organising Protestantism in Geneva along strict church-state separation lines, Calvin was able to impact the religious and moral character of the city in a way that was unprecedented. Ozment notes that the Swiss reformers, “Zwingli, Bucer [and] Calvin… closely integrated religion and society and were determined to transform the latter by the former, subjecting rulers to Scripture’s guidance and the standards of divine righteousness” as interpreted by a somewhat literal interpretation of the Bible (Ozment 198: 135). But, how successful was Calvin? Did the cities of his 16th century world impact his thought? To what extent did Calvin impact the cities that he visited and lived in?
Calvin’s life, writings and ministry cannot be divorced from the cities that he travelled to or resided in. Born in Noyon, he would later study in Paris, Orleans and Bourges. He would seek sanctuary in Angouleme and Nerac. He would flee to Basle and Strasbourg to escape persecution in France. He would travel to Ferrara in Italy, and to several German cities from 1539-1541 to participate in colloquies sponsored by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Eventually, he would settle in Geneva, and make his home there as a refugee and an exile from his own city and country.