Beza, Or Beze, Theodore De, a French religious reformer, born at Vezelay, June 24, 1519, died in Geneva, Oct. 13, 1605. He was brought up for the law by his uncle, who was a councillor of the parliament of Paris, and studied at Bourges under Melchior Volmar, who enlisted his sympathies for Luther. From 1539 to 1548 he was in Paris, addicted to pleasure and literature, and published there loose Latin poetry under the title of Juvenilia. A severe illness changed the turn of his mind, and in 1548 he retired to Geneva, where he made a public profession of the reformed religion. He taught Greek at Lausanne till 1558, when he went to Germany to intercede with the German princes in behalf of the French Huguenots, after which Calvin obtained for him the rectorship and chair of theology at the academy of Geneva. In 1559 he converted Antoine de Bourbon and his wife Jeanne d'Al-bret to Protestantism, and in 15G1 he was the official representative of the Huguenots at the conferences of Poissy, where he displayed ability and moderation.
In 1562 he went to Paris to preach the reformation, became chaplain to the prince de Conde and afterward to Coligni, and rejoiced over the assassination of the duke de Guise, though he was not believed to have connived at any deeds of violence Returning to Geneva in 1563, he took the place of Calvin on the latter's death in 1564, and was the spokesman of the Huguenots at the synods of La Rochelle and Nimes, and on many other occasions. He married for the second time at the age of 69, and at 78 wrote a spirited poem in refutation of the rumors of his conversion. He was the virtual founder of the academy of Geneva, and produced after Greek models an admirable drama on the sacrifice of Abraham. He published in 1556 a version of the New Testament, which passed through many editions, and took part in a translation of the Bible revised from the Hebrew and Greek texts, which was issued in 1588 by the pastors of the church of Geneva. His Traduction en vers frangois des psaumes omis par Marot (Lyons, 1563) has been reprinted many times together with Marot's for the use of French Protestant congregations.
Among his numerous other works is L'Histoire ecclesiastique des eqlises reformees au royaume de France depuis Pan 1521 jusqu'en 1563 (3 vols., 1580). As his name is not ostensibly associated with the authorship of this work, his claims to it are contested by some writers, but generally decided in his favor. The best known biographies are by Schlosser (Heidelberg, 1809) and Baum (2 vols., Leipsic, 1843-'51). See Heppe, Theo-dor Beza, Leben und Ausgewahlte Schriften (Elberfeld, 1861).