(This book is part of the series of Bitesize Biographies published by Evangelical Press, UK)
What better way to understand the complex times of the Protestant Reformation than to experience it through the struggles, desires, perplexities, convictions, and quests of someone who lived through it – in this case, a vocal and inquisitive woman – Renée of France?
Although Renée belonged to the nobility of that time, the course of events kept her focused on some basic questions of faith – the same ones that many of us face. Is faith a private matter? Can we just believe secretly  in our hearts? What harm is there in a little pretence? In fact, should we not hide and suppress some aspects of our faith if they offend others? What did Christ mean when he told us to love our enemies? What is the role of the church in our life, especially when we are placed in a position of responsibility? How can God forgive us when we utterly deny him? And how can we ever get back on our feet?

Some of the answers surface in her intimate and moving correspondence with John Calvin, one of the main Reformers of that time. Some questions may remain unanswered. In any case, the account of her life can give us comfort, hope, and confidence “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) in spite of our failings and any situation we have to face. We may then share Renée’s final expressions of deep gratefulness to God who, ‘purely by his goodness and liberality’, has preserved her and us until now.


‘Simonetta Carr has succeeded in making the reader of her fine book a contemporary, yes, even a close friend of Renée of France. Based on the sources, written with great quality and a pleasure to read is the fascinating story of this royal woman. I look forward to more of such books.’ — Prof. Dr. Herman J. Selderhuis, professor of church history and church polity at the Theological University Apeldoorn (Netherlands) and author of several works on John Calvin.

‘Among Italian feudal families in the 16th century, Renée of France, wife of the duke of Ferrara, was alone in her adherence to the Reformation. She was not only prevented from favouring it openly, but was thwarted by her husband – a vassal of the pope – who restricted her liberties. Her story intertwines with the various clandestine groups of supporters of the Reformation, bringing to light, particularly in the form of her hospitality (given also to John Calvin!) the problems of pretence and suppression – can one be inwardly Protestant and outwardly Roman Catholic? – and of the relationship between the Reformation and the heretical movements. This book provides a sketch on the complex movement of Reformation in Italy as seen and lived by a French royal princess, wife of a feudal prince of the pope.’ — Rev. Dr. Emanuele Fiume, Pastor of the Waldensian Church in Rome and author of several books on the history of Protestantism.

Renee of France was royalty in France during the Protestant Reformation, a period of time in church history renown for men such as Luther, Calvin and more. Of particular interest to Simonetta in her book titled Renee of France is the correspondence of John Calvin, that great Reformer to Renee. As the author weaves the history of the Protestant Reformation with the story of Renee, she masterfully highlights in narrative form a great need for Christians today, which is for Christians to speak the truth in love to one to one another and to stand up for our convictions by the grace of God in a culture that is increasingly hostile to and intolerant of biblical Christianity. The great contribution of this book is the insight it provides into the great Reformer John Calvin as pastor and theologian. This engaging and insightful biography not only provides insight into John Calvin the theologian and pastor but also John Calvin, the Christian who spoke the truth in love to Renee just as Christians today are commanded to do so because of the great love of God that has redeemed us and enabled us to fulfill the command to love one another by His grace through His Spirit, and for His glory. —David Jenkins, Director Servants of Grace Ministries.

Simonetta Carr has done it again in this superbly written biography!  Renee of France will provide much insight into the horrendous pressure to choose a side in what we call the Reformation.  This work is recommended highly to all Christians, young and old, who want to know more about their heritage from which they come. Terry Delaney, Christian Book Reviews




The Heidelblog


Emeth Aletheia

Out of the Ordinary

Housewife Theologian

See also Goodreads and Amazon