This text, written by Jean Calvin in defence of the execution of Michael Servetus in October 1553, provoked widespread controversy and reaction. It was published in Geneva by Robert Etienne in 1554.
It is a composite text. Calvin reproduces many original documents alongside his own writing, including many of the Servetus trial documents. In these documents, amongst the pieces written by Calvin and the Genevan ministers, there is a substantial amount of writing from the pen of Servetus.
This text was written in haste, during one of Calvin's most difficult periods in Geneva. It is not well organised, with many different sections, very few of which are clearly marked.
This edition has compared all the relevant parts of the text with the original trial documents in the Archives d'Etat in Geneva, noting all differences. As it is not an easy text to navigate, this edition gives a "plan" of the text at the start, and "signposts" the various parts throughout, making it much more accessible to the reader.
This text - hastily put together and written under great pressure - allows us to hear the views of Servetus, as well as those of Calvin, and gives us a valuable insight into the complexities of a troubled situation.