He was born in Noyon, Picardie, France and died in Geneva, Switzerland. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg castle church in 1517 when Calvin was 6. Calvin was, then, securely a member of the second generation of Reformers.
Calvin's father, an attorney, sent him to the University of Paris to study humanities and law. By 1532, he was a Doctor of Law at Orleans. His first published work was a commentary on the Roman philosopher Seneca.
Calvin also published many volumes of commentaries on the Bible. As much as his practice in Geneva his publications spread his ideas of a correctly reformed church to many parts of Europe. Calvinism became the religion of the majority in Scotland, the Netherlands, and parts of North Germany and was influential in Hungary and Poland. South Africa was founded by mostly Dutch (though some were French and Portuguese as well) Calvinist settlers beginning in the 17th century, who became known as Afrikaners. Sierra Leone was largely colonised by Calvinist settlers from Nova Scotia. John Marrant[?] had organised a congregation there under the auspices of the Huntingdon Connexion[?]. The settlers were largely Black Loyalists[?], African Americans who had fought for the British during the American War of Independence.
Reformed Geneva Calvin and his city ejected any remaining Catholics and strongly prohibited any practices they identified as un-reformed, such as dancing, wedding feasts, and the celebration of Christmas and other religious holidays. Michael Servetus, a Spaniard whose writings were identified as Unitarian (as opposed to Trinitarian), was arrested and eventually burned as a heretic in Geneva.