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Jan Łaski (John à Lasco), portrait from the 16th century

Jan Łaski or Johannes à Lasco (1499 – 8 January 1560) was a Polish Reformed reformer. Owing to his influential work in England (c. 1543–1555) during the English Reformation, he is known to the English-speaking world by the Anglicised form John à Lasco (or less commonly, John Laski).


Jan Łaski was born in Łask, the son of Jaroslaw Łaski, the voivode of Sieradz Voivodship, and Susanna Bąk, the daughter of Zbigniew Bąk of Bąkowa Góra. His uncle, also Jan Łaski, was by turns royal secretary, Archbishop of Gniezno, Primate of Poland and Grand Chancellor of the Crown; he was also the uncle of King Sigismund I the Old. Both Jan Łaskis' coat-of-arms was Korab.

After his family's fall from political power and prestige, Łaski, a learned priest, went in 1523 to Basel, where he became a close friend of Erasmus and Zwingli. In 1542, he became pastor of a Protestant church at Emden, East Frisia. Shortly after, he went to England, where in 1550 he was superintendent of the Strangers' Church of London and had some influence on ecclesiastical affairs in the reign of Edward VI.[1]

Edward VI Granting Permission to John à Lasco to Set Up a Congregation for European Protestants in London in 1550, painting by Johann Valentin Haidt, circa 1750

On the accession of Roman Catholic Queen Mary in July 1553, he fled to Copenhagen with a shipload of refugees from the Strangers' Church. However they were denied refuge there because they would not accept the Augsburg Confession of Faith. They were resettled in Brandenburg.[2] Łaski also helped Catherine Willoughby and her husband after they too had left England. His support enabled them to obtain an appointment from Sigismund II as administrators of Lithuania. Łaski was a correspondent of John Hooper, whom Łaski supported in the vestments controversy.[1]

In 1556, he was recalled to Poland, where he became secretary to King Sigismund II and was a leader in the Calvinist Reformation.[3]

His contributions to the Reformed churches were the establishment of church government in theory and practice, a denial of any distinction between ministers and elders except in terms of who could teach and administer the sacraments. With fellow Reformed ministers, Martin Micron, and Gellius Faber, John à Lasco wrote long treatises and had an extensive dialogue with Anabaptist Menno Simons, who understood "the World became flesh" in a literal way and denied the orthodox view that "the Word took on flesh" in the incarnation.[4]

He died in Pińczów, Poland.


  • Forma ac ratio (1550) -- A "Form and Rationale" for the liturgy of the Stranger churches in London. Possibly influenced the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, John Knox's Scottish order, the Middleburg ordinal, the 1563 German Palatinate order, and the "forms and prayers" in Pieter Dathenus' psalter, which was influential in Dutch Calvinist churches.
  • Johannes a Lasco, Opera (Works), ed. Abraham Kuyper (Amsterdam: F. Muller, 1866).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Archbold 1897, p. 159.
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Archbold 1897, p. 160.
  4. ^ George, Timothy. Theology of the Reformers (p. 279). B&H Publishing Group.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Laski" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Archbold, William Arthur Jobson (1897). "Laski, John" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 52. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 158–160.


  • Henning P. Juergens, Johannes a Lasco in Ostfriesland: Der Werdegang eines europaeischen Reformators (Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002) (Spaetmittelalter und Reformation, Neue Reihe, 18), . viii + 428 S.
  • Becker, J., Gemeindeordnung und Kirchenzucht. Johannes a Lascos Kirchenordnung für London (1555) und die reformierte Konfessionsbildung (Leiden, Brill, 2007) (Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, 122), xvi, 592 S.
  • Michael S. Springer, Restoring Christ's Church: John a Lasco and the Forma ac ratio (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2007) (St Andrews Studies in Reformation History), 198 pp.

External linksEdit