Two Sides to the Story...

Written by Anthony Douglas on 04 November 2017.

It’s been enormously encouraging to keep meeting different leading lights from the Reformation this year, hasn’t it? The courage and insight that God gave them, and the way their influence led to a vast growth in understanding of God’s Word, and the huge strides taken in reforming church practices... It’s been a treat.

ReneeBut for every John (Calvin) there is a Jane (Grey), and for every Martin (Luther) there’s a Katharina (von Bora). Despite the way the structures of sixteenth century society meant that history tended to be shaped by men, it is remarkable how influential women were able to be in the unfolding Reformation. Whether they were monarchs or commoners, they had to work even harder to renew their undesrstanding of their own roles as Christian women - and they did it, with integrity and determination.

Take Renee of France, born a princess in 1510. Before she was 18, she was married off to an Italian lord, becoming the Duchess of Ferrara in 1534. At the time, that made her husband a direct vassal of the Pope. Yet Renee didn’t flinch from a Protestant faith, supporting compatriots including John Calvin. Her husband gradually expelled all French guests from his court, and in the early 1550s she was tried by the Inquistion for heresy - at her husband’s suggestion.

Renee remained a Protestant through it all. Would that we all had that kind of toughness!

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