Sunday, February 15, 2009

Calvin's Pseudonyms

John Calvin employed various pseudonyms during his life. If you are searching for a screen name or an account password, consider -- here are a few of the more notable ones:

* Alcuinus -- This is an anagram of "Calvinus," which he used for some editions of the 1539 Institutes published in Roman Catholic territories of Europe.

* Charles d'Espeville -- This was used by Calvin when he lived in Angouleme and during travels in Italy. It refers to Espeville (or Eppevill), a village belonging to the Hangest family, containing the chaplaincy of La Gesine, which once provided Calvin with income.

* Martinus Lucanius -- This is another anagram, used by Calvin when he lived in Basel.

Thomas Henry Dyer, The Life of John Calvin, p. 40:

It is ascertained that he adopted at least seven different pseudonyms. The second edition of his "Institutio" was published at Strasburgh, in 1539, under the anagram of Alcuin.1 In his tract against Baudouin, he acknowledges that he had called himself Lucanius, which Baudouin converted into Lucianus. Besides the name of D'Espeville assumed in this journey, he called himself Depercan [Deperçan] or Deparcau, when he fled from Paris. Other names which he adopted at different times, are Carolus Passelius, Joseph Calphurnius [or Calpurnius], and J. de Bonneville. The last is subscribed to a French manuscript letter, written in June, 1553.2

1. Bayle is wrong is questioning this fact.
2. P. Henry, Leben Calvins, i., Beil. 3 There is a book by Liebe on the subject of Calvin's pseudonyms, entitled "Diatribe de Pseudonymia Calvini," Amst. 1723.

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