Roland Herbert Bainton (1894-1984) was an English church historian.
He was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England and came to the United States in 1902. He received an A.B. degree from Whitman College, and B.D. and Ph.D.. degrees from Yale University. He also received a number of honorary degrees including a D.D. from Meadville Theological Seminary and from Oberlin College, Dr. Theologiae from the University of Marburg, Germany, and Litt.D. from Gettysburg College. A specialist in Reformation history, Bainton was for forty-two years Titus Street Professor of ecclesiastical history at Yale, and he continued his writing well into his twenty years of retirement.
Bainton's father was a pacifist, and he himself married a Quaker. Graduating from seminary just as World War I began, he affiliated with the Society of Friends' unit of the American Red Cross. Although he was ordained as a Congregationist minister, he never served as the pastor of a congregation.
Bainton wore his scholarship lightly and had a lively, readable style. His most popular books were Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (1950)--which sold more than a million copies--and The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century (1952), both of which were widely used as textbooks. In all he was the author of more than thirty books on Christianity. Many of Bainton's books are illustrated with examples taken from his collection of medieval and Renaissance drawings, woodcuts, and engravings.
In his chapter on Luther's writings in Invitation to the Classics, Mark A. Noll singles out Bainton's biography: "Of the many superlative treatments, a half-century old study by Roland Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, has justly won a reputation as a classic work on a classic subject."