Triumvirs, Patriarchs, or Friends? Evaluating the Relationship between Calvin, Viret, and Farel


The relationship between John Calvin, Pierre Viret, and Guillaume Farel has been characterized as a 'triumvirate,' a 'patriarchate,' and as a 'close friendship.' Despite the overwhelming attention paid by modern scholars to Calvin alone, the three of them were viewed by contemporary friends and enemies alike as a team. To friends, they were the 'triumvirs' who provided much needed leadership to the nascent Reformed Church in the Francophone world. To Protestant enemies, they were the 'three patriarchs' who sought to dominate the other pastors in the region. Their personal friendship was close, at least until Farel's marriage to a teenage girl. Scholarship until now, however, has largely ignored the friendship between Viret and Farel, partly because much of their correspondence remains unedited. Looking ahead, a potentially fruitful approach to examining their relationship would be to evaluate their network of associates and correspondents in order to gain a better understanding of exactly where and how their ideas affected sixteenth-century society.


History and Political Science

Keywords and Phrases

Calvin; Farel; Viret; Reformation networks; Correspondence

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1462-2459; 1743-1727

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2008 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2008