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Nicklaus Manuel and the Reformation in Berne

G.R. Potter describes how one of the Reformers active in Berne during the early sixteenth century was also a painter and man of erratic genius.

Berne is the capital of the Swiss Confederation, and yet is neither the largest nor the best known of Swiss cities. Basle in the north on the Rhine, with its memories of Erasmus, the early printing presses, an ancient University, and once the home of an oecumenical council, is larger and better known.

Zurich, splendidly situated and the home of banking, commerce and industry; Lucerne, the gateway to the mountains; and the Geneva of Calvin, Rousseau and the original League of Nations; all overshadow Berne, with its narrow streets crushed in the U-turn of the Aar.

The state or canton of Berne was, and is, the largest of the components of Switzerland, having developed from a free, imperial city into a community where, until the nineteenth century, an oligarchy of cautious and efficient patricians ruled benevolently over the conservative peasants of the countryside.

When, in the opening years of the sixteenth century, Switzerland was a great European power, it was above all Berne that provided stability, effective realist policy and leadership to the highly disparate communities that had joined together as a Confederation for security and independence.

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