This critical edition of the Registers of the Consistory of Geneva in the time of John Calvin reveals what life was like during the Protestant Reformation in a city where ecclesiastical discipline affected many. These valuable primary source documents -- the great bulk of which have remained unknown to most modern researchers - are of capital importance for study of this seminal period in church history. The details contained within the Geneva Consistory's registers portray a fascinating cross section of society in the first period of the Reformation. If one is interested in religion lived by ordinary people and the reception of Calvin's Reform among the populace, one will find here a veritabe treasure-house. Faithfully preserved through the centuries by the authorities of the Reformed Church of Geneva, these Consistory records have been edited and critically annotated by Thomas A. Lambert and Isabella M. Watt under the direction of Robert M. Kingdon. Translated by M. Wallace McDonald from the French edition of the same work, these noteworthy historical documents are now available in English for the first time.
Volume I documents the activity of the Consistory between 1542 and 1544. Rich in details pertaining to daily life and piety in Geneva, these records from the Consistory's earliest days testify to the immense role played by the church in society at the beginning of the Reformation. Within the first twenty-four monthsof the Consistory's existence, almost 850 people were called to appear from a total population of less than 13,000. Besides the expected pursuit of 'paillards,' the Consistory heard the cases of drunkards, blasphemers, usurers, wastrels, beggars, dancers, singers of 'improper songs,' healers, magicians, gamblers and other 'evil livers.' The Consistory, charged with repressing the beliefs and practices of the old faith, also investigated numerous cases of recidivist Catholics, from those who continued pryaing to Mary and the saints to those who refused Reformed communion. In time such cases would diminish with the promotion and acceptance of Reformed modes of living and worship, but this volume clearly portrays the important period of transition.