Valérand Poullain

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Valérand Poullain (Pollanus, Pullanus) (1509?-1557) was a French Calvinist minister.[1] In a troubled career as minister, he was pastor to a congregation of Flemish or Walloon weavers brought to South-west England around 1548.[2]


He was originally from Lille. He was willing to replace the martyred Pierre Brully at the Strasburg church, in 1544-5. But there was local opposition from other local reformers, who found him unreasonable, notably Johannes Sturm. Poullain failed to gain the position from a short-list of five, all of whom were required to preach in front of a committee including Sturm, Immanuel Tremellius, and Peter Martyr, supported by Martin Bucer and others. He shortly left the city for a teaching position at Romberg,[3] being succeeded as pastor by Pierre Alexandre and then shortly by Jean Garnier.[4]

Poullain owed his invitation to England to Jan Utenhove.[5] He was in Canterbury, working with a French refugee congregation, around 1547.[5][6] The weavers he brought occupied the building of the dissolved Glastonbury Abbey from 1551 to 1554, initially under the auspices of Lord Protector Somerset, and using a Protestant liturgy of Poullain's devising.[7] Poullain was probably an influence on the liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer of Edward VI.[8][9][10] After the accession of Mary I of England Poullain left England with some 24 of his weavers, going to Wesel, and then Frankfurt. He became acquainted with John Foxe there; but a move to Basel led to his appearance before a matrimonial court in a case concerning his disputed betrothal.[11][12]

Later, in 1556, Poullain was in charge of a quarrelsome French refugee congregation at Frankfurt. Jean Calvin himself had to intervene: Poullain was cleared of allegations against him, but had to resign his position,[13] and Calvin questioned his judgement.[14]


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  3. ^ Philippe Denis, Les églises d'étrangers en pays rhénans, 1538-1564 (1984), pp. 72-4. On Google Books.
  4. ^ René Bornert, La réforme protestante du culte à Strasbourg au XVIe siècle (1981), p. 194. On Google Books.
  5. ^ a b  "Utenhove, John". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
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  10. ^ Diarmaid MacCulloch, Cranmer (1996), pp.505-6.
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  12. ^ He is said to have married in 1547 a sister of the wife of John Hooper.[1]
  13. ^ Wulfert De Greef, The Writings of John Calvin: an introductory guide (2008), p. 47. On Google Books.
  14. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Karl Bauer (1927), Valérand Poullain: Ein Kirchengeschichtliches Zeitbild aus der Mitte des sechzehnten Jahrhunderts