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Full Access Putting “God's Honor First”: Truth, Lies, and Servants in Reformation Geneva

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Putting “God's Honor First”: Truth, Lies, and Servants in Reformation Geneva

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This article begins to examine the role of servants in the implementation of the Genevan Reformation in the 1530s–1560s by looking at the Genevan Consistory records and city legislation as recorded in the Sources du Droit, as well as considering John Calvin's stance on the absolute importance of truth in a godly society. It contrasts official efforts to inculcate the principle of truth-telling among servants with employers' expectations that servants would lie in order to protect family honor and reputation. It argues that, as a result of these potentially conflicting obligations to employers and to the principles of Geneva's reforming church and city authorities, servants were at one and the same time vital to the enforcement of the Reformed system of discipline and the consistory's pursuit of truth and frequent obstacles to that enforcement.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of History Denison University, Granville, OH (USA)


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