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Sébastien Castellion. Source: Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons
Sébastien Castellion (Castellio), b. 1515 at St. Martin du Fresne in the French Savoy, d. 29 December 1563 at Basel, was influenced to join the Reformation as a result of Calvin's Institutio Religionis Christianae. For some time he worked with Calvin at Strasbourg and Geneva, but as a result of Castellion's translation of the Bible, and particularly his humanistic opinions as opposed to Calvin's dogmatism and intolerance, their ways separated. Castellion, who in the meantime had acquired a professorship in Greek at the University of Basel, became a great champion of freedom of conscience and belief in the 16th century. As such he condemned the concepts of Calvin and Beza and their Reformation party, especially the claim that the state had the right to persecute with the sword those who would not conform their thinking. According to Castellion, the execution of heretics was entirely unlawful. Castellion wrote De haereticis an sint persequendi (Whether Heretics Should Be Persecuted). It was translated into French with the title, Traité des hérétiques a savoir si on les doit persécuter (new edition, Geneva, 1913). In this book Castellio also considers the Anabaptists, although he does not share their principles and beliefs. For his toleration as well as for his objective  judgment of the Anabaptists, Castellio occupies a unique position in the history of the 16th century.


Bainton, Roland H., et al. Castellioniana: quatre études sur Sébastien Castellion et l'idée de la tolérance. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1951.

Bainton, Roland H. The travail of religious liberty: nine biographical studies. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1951: 97-124.

Becker, Bruno. Autour de Michel Servet et de Sebastien Castellion: recueil. Haarlem : Willink & Zoon, 1953.

Buisson, Ferdinand. Sébastien Castellion, sa vie et son oeuvre '(1515-1563)': Étude sur les origines du protestantisme libéral français. Paris: Hachette & C., 1892. 2 vols.

Burckhardt, Paul. David Joris und seine Familie in Basel. 1949: 37-44 passim.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1916): 110-112.

Zijpp, N. van der. "Castellio." Stemmen uit de doopsgezinde Broederschap. Assen: Koninklijke van Gorcum & Comp., 1952-1963: II, 58-63.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

van der Zijpp, Nanne. "Castellion, Sébastien (1515-1563)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 May 2016.,_S%C3%A9bastien_(1515-1563)&oldid=86566.

APA style

van der Zijpp, Nanne. (1953). Castellion, Sébastien (1515-1563). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 May 2016, from,_S%C3%A9bastien_(1515-1563)&oldid=86566.

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 524. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.

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