John Calvin, the son of a clerk, was born in Noyon, France, in 1509. He studied in Paris, Orleans and Bourges and in 1533 became a supporter of the Protestant Reformation.
Calvin's book, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536) was an explanation of the new theology. This was followed by Ecclesiastical Ordinances (1541) which dealt with church government. Calvin argued that there should be equality within the clerical ministry rather than the episcopal hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Calvin's supporters became known as Presbyterians.
In 1536 Calvin moved to Geneva where he had great success in imposing his religious doctrines on the people living in the city. His views also spread to France and the Netherlands. The government of Presbyterian churches is by elected representative bodies of ministers and elders. Under the influence of the teachings of John Knox, the minister of St. Giles, Edinburgh, Presbyterianism became very strong in Scotland.
John Calvin died in 1564.