Throughout history, the manipulation of a population has been the key to attaining a person’s personal goals. It is often the action behind all major historic events. During both the Renaissance and the Reformation, manipulation has been a prominent aspect of many of the changes that occurred. John Calvin, a major reformer of the Church, uses manipulation to gain and maintain power over both Geneva and its citizens. He manipulates the citizens by controlling the fear, emotion, knowledge, and finally, the Calvinist religion itself. John Calvin’s use of fear as a tool to control his citizens in Geneva shows his strong skills as a leader in the Renaissance. Whilst in power in Geneva, John Calvin created strict laws and cruel punishments for those who broke these laws (Klimek, 213). Geneva, being a theocracy at the time, had many laws based on religious principles that were not to be broken. Michael Servetus, a citizen of Geneva, disagreed with one of these principles and ended up being sentenced to burn at the stake (Haberman, 36). This action creates fear among Calvin’s citizens which he uses as a way to gain respect. Those who fear punishment will be less likely to break the rules. It also appears that by getting rid of the bad people Calvin is creating a safer more respectable society. This is a tool used to manipulate the citizens and make him look like he is working for the good of his city, rather than himself. Furthermore, he uses fear of the unknown to govern his citizens. The religious aspects of his laws create the fear that those who do not follow will have a bad afterlife thus resulting in his citizens blindly following his laws. The fear of disappointing God is strong in his theocratic society which gives Calvin the ability to punish in the name of God. This method is useful since it seems Calvin is working to create a better society while in reality he is simply keeping all the citizens on a short leash. Using fear as a manipulation tool to control...
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Coftret, Bernard. Calvin: A Biography. Cambridge: William B Fredman, 2000. Print.
Haberman, Arthur, and Adrian Shubert. The West and the World. Toronto: Gage Learning Corporation, 2002. Print.
Klimek, Mark, Nate Hardcastle, and Taylor D. Smith. Ultimate Biography. New York: DK, 2002. Print.
Patrick, James A. Renaissance and Reformation. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2007. Print.
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