Calvin Complains about Ruffians and Swallows at Church

We have many references to people misbehaving at sermon, and this is the least of them, but typical enough and fun as well. It’s also not the only time I’ve seen complaints about birds in church, but here we have both.

On June 27, 1552 (R.C. 46, f. 229v–230), Calvin came before the city council to address a handful of issues. He asked the council to authorise a church visitation and for them to do something about the infighting between two teachers (pedagogues) at the school and their disobedience to the schoolmaster. And then he turned to some problems during sermon:

Item du bruyt que les rufians font au sermon, tant qu’il empechent l’audience… Also, regarding the noise that ruffians make at sermon, such that they disturb the audience…
The Council decided to take action on all items, and on this specific issue resolved:
Et quant au bruyt des rufians, que l’on commande au guedz qu’il soyent aux sermons et que pendant le sermon, il en aye ung à la grande port, l’aultre à l’aultre, qu’il facent taire les rufians. Et que l’on dye au compteroleur qu’il face estouper [DFM: boucher] que les arondelles n’entrent au temple. Et les rufians soyent notés. And as for the noise from ruffians, the watchmen shall be ordered to go to church and during the sermon, one be stationed at the main door and the other one at the other [door] and that they make the ruffians be quiet. And that one tell the conteroleur [person charged with maintaining the city buildings] that he stop up the holes so that the swallows don’t come into the church. And the [names of the] ruffians be noted.

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