Re-presenting the Tradition: Towards an Architectural Iconology of Early Modern French Protestantism, 1535 to 1623

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The role of architecture within the French Reformed tradition has been of recent scholarly interest, seen in the work of Hélène Guicharnaud, Catharine Randall, Andrew Spicer, and others. Few, however, have explored in depth the relationship between Reformed theology and architectural forms. This thesis explores the formal roots of the aesthetics behind the work of Reformed architects, set against the background of late medieval church architecture. The work of Serlio is demonstrably important in the spreading of the ideas of Vitruvius, indicating the influence of classical Roman building on French Reformed architecture. There follows an examination of five important Huguenot architects: Philibert de l'Orme, Bernard Palissy, Jacques-Androuet du Cerceau, Salomon de Brosse, and Jacques Perret. We then undergo a comparative examination of three churches: St. Pierre in Geneva, a medieval church overhauled by the Reformers; St. Gervais-St. Protais, a Parisian Catholic church whose façade was completed by the French Reformed architect Salomon de Brosse; and the temple at Charenton, a structure also designed and built by de Brosse. These three buildings reveal the contribution of Huguenot architecture, a distinct language that gave expression to Reformed theological ideas and helped bring about the renewal of classicism in France.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Dyrness, William A.

Document Type





Protestant church buildings, Calvinism in architecture, Church architecture, France


Missions and World Christianity


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