In the 16th century Switzerland was the focus of the Protestant Reformation, and the cantons split along religious lines. One of the greatest political and religious leaders of the Reformation was John Calvin. His success lay in his extraordinary ability to combine extreme political convictions with administrative talent. Calvin made much of Switzerland a tower of Protestant strength. Both civil and secular law were dominated by Calvin's preachings. His religious base was Geneva, but his ideas spread rapidly to Scotland, the Netherlands, and even to southern France. Another famous religious leader was Huldrych Zwingli, who preached in Zurich and led the Protestants in an extended civil war with their Roman Catholic neighbors (see Calvin; Zwingli).
Switzerland's secession from the Holy Roman Empire was recognized by the Treaty of Westphalia, which followed the Thirty Years' War early in the 17th... [continues]
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