Original Research

Fornication and adultery in the city of Debrecen (1547–1625) compared with the morality of Geneva

Balázs D. Magyar
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2791 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2791 | © 2023 Balázs D. Magyar | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 December 2022 | Published: 26 April 2023

About the author(s)

Balázs D. Magyar, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Social Ethics and Church Sociology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Debrecen Reformed Theological University, Debrecen, Hungary


To be sure, the more productive field of the international research on Protestantism is related to the subject of social history. In the case of the Calvin studies, for instance, readers will see, much has been written about the operation of the Genevan civil-church administration, consistorial discipline, sexual sins, and family-marital life. Their authors’ outstanding effort was to consult with the original manuscripts of the Genevan Archives. However, the early generations of Protestant preachers not only in Western, but in Central East Europe were trying to commit everything to renew the public morality of people, still the illumination of the Hungarian pastors’ views on the new spiritual and religious dimensions of family life, is still a neglected part of the research. Consequently, it would be interesting to scrutinize, for instance, the public morality related to the sexual crimes of local townsfolk of the city of Debrecen which apparently was the center of the Hungarian Reformation since 1562/63. Doing so, the present research deals with the operation of the law court, the number of cases, the crimes, and motives represented in the Registers of the Magistracy of Debrecen during the period of 1547–1625. Figures and statistics presented by the article point out how important was the practice of forgiveness in the religious life in Debrecen. It is taken for granted that the main results of the study permit to take a brief comparison of the sexual morality of the two Calvinist towns, namely: Debrecen and Geneva.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is based on the field of systematic theology. The study offers an attempt to understand sexual sins/crimes in their 16th and 17th century theological, judicial, and historical context.


sexuality; sin/crime; forgiveness; adultery; Protestantism; Calvin; Méliusz


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Crossref Citations

1. Reformation of marital laws in Hungary: Early reception of Luther, Calvin and Beza before and until 1667
Balázs D. Magyar
Verbum et Ecclesia  vol: 45  issue: 1  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/ve.v45i1.2946