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Hayward Beywood

This category contains 24 posts

Horace-Benedict de Saussure, 1740–1799

The young Horace-B ?n ?dict de Saussure visited Chamonix in 1760 and developed the ambition to stand on top of Mont Blanc or at least to be responsible for it being climbed. For this purpose he posted notices in all the surrounding villages offering a reward to the first person to reach the summit of the “Great […]


Even the good and the great can make the most terrible gaffes, and the burning of Michael Servetus at the stake in Champel in 1553 is generally considered to be the most serious error of judgement in the otherwise exemplary life and career of Jean Calvin, Geneva’s Protestant ruler in the sixteenth century. At that […]

The Crime of Michael Servetus

Since the death of Jesus Christ and up to 1517, the Roman Catholic Church had adopted certain rites and procedures as a normal part of its religious practice. From time to time throughout its history splinter groups had attempted to introduce innovations or variations in the Christian faith. However well meaning these groups, they had […]

JOHN KNOX (1514 ?-1572)

The fourth huge limestone figures on the Wall of the Reformation in the Parc des Bastions in Geneva is of John Knox. Why should the leader of the Scottish Reformation be commemorated in Geneva ? In fact, he did spend a short time there. Very little is known about his early life. Those who have studied […]

Ernest Ansermet 1883-1969

If you listen to classical music on the radio, you will hear the name of Ansermet, the conductor, mentioned almost as many times as Stravinsky, the composer. The name of Ansermet is also inseparable from that of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. A modest, upright, uncompromising, and stubborn man, Ernest Ansermet hated celebrity. Nevertheless, […]

The woman whom Napoleon hated most… Madame de Stael (1766–1817)

The brilliant personality of Madame de Stael made her the most famous woman in Europe at the dawning of the nineteenth century. Although her parents were from Geneva, she was actually born in Paris on 22 April 1766 and her name was Germaine Necker. Her father was Jacques Necker, a wealthy Genevese banker, and hence […]

What exactly did Jean Calvin (1509–1564) do for Geneva?

JEAN CALVIN (1509–1564) What exactly did Jean Calvin do for Geneva ? In 1509 Jean Cauvin (as the name was written at that time) was born in the town of Noyon in Picardy, Northern France, into a wealthy family. When he was 12 he was sent to school in Paris with the intention of becoming a […]

Woodrow Wilson

In Geneva, on one side of the lake you have the Quai Gustave Ador and on the other side the Quai Wilson. Most people know that the Quai Wilson is named after Woodrow Wilson, the twenty-eighth President of the United States of America. But did you know that there is link between the naming of […]

Voltaire at Ferney

When Voltaire sought refuge at Ferney in 1758, he had already led a tumultuous existence. He had been in or out of favour at various royal courts, writing successful plays or writing flops, jotting slanderous verses or penning philosophical works. His first 66 years had been marked by fame and fortune—indeed, he was very wealthy—but […]

Julius Caesar in Geneva

Julius Caesar came to Geneva in 58 B.C., when, at the age of 42, he became governor of the Roman provinces on both sides of the Alps—known as Cisalpine Gaul and Transalpine Gaul. Since 125 B.C., the northern limit of the Roman Empire had been marked by the Alps and the left bank of the […]