Belief and Politics in Enlightenment France

BookBelief and Politics in Enlightenment France

Belief and Politics in Enlightenment France

Essays in Honor of Dale K. Van Kley

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2019:02


February 11th, 2019

Access Token


Other Formats



Written in honor of Dale K. Van Kley, leading specialist on religion and politics in the Old Regime and the French Revolution, these essays examine how Jansenist belief shaped enlightenment ideas, cultural identities, social relations and politics in France throughout the long eighteenth century. Van Kley’s work has invited scholars to think beyond the traditional parameters of the Enlightenment and to consider how religious faith functioned in the broader context of Old Regime, Revolutionary, and post-Revolutionary France.
In different ways, each essay challenges the idea of an inherent opposition between faith and Enlightenment, which likewise equates modernity with secularization. The authors within this volume address two main questions. Firstly, how did religious belief continue to shape identities and experiences in the long eighteenth century? Secondly, how does this narrative of enduring religious belief in eighteenth-century France help historians rethink the Enlightenment and the French Revolution?
The various methodologies used by the contributors illustrate how belief, Enlightenment, and Revolution coexisted and indeed co-mingled in different contexts: politics and political culture, the social and cultural history of ideas, and the history of material culture.

Winner of Baylor University's 2019 Guittard Book Award for Historical Scholarship.

Author Information

Mita Choudhury is professor of History at Vassar College. Her publications have focused on eighteenth-century French politics, religion, and gender. Daniel J. Watkins is assistant professor of History at Baylor University. His research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of eighteenth-century France and the Catholic Church.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of illustrations9
List of abbreviations13
I. Belief, Enlightenment, and the political culture of the Old Regime37
Entangling the “century of lights” to disentangle the Enlightenment39
Reflections of Jansenism in North America: La Salle and his letters69
A lawyer and a citizen revisited: the case of Claude-Joseph Prévost (1674–1753)103
Masculinity and faith in the eighteenth century: comparing François de Pâris and Jean-Baptiste Girard123
Jesuits of India: adapting Van Kley’s “Religion and the age of ‘patriot’ reform” to South Asia151
From the parti dévot to the parti du roi: royalist ideology, foreign policy, and the recrystallization of court faction at the accession of Louis XVI177
Varieties of religious behavior in eighteenth-century Paris: the material culture of leaders of confraternities195
II Belief in a Revolutionary age211
Religion, Enlightenment, and revolution: the Van Kley thesis213
Jansenism, popular sovereignty, and the general will in the pre-Revolutionary crisis235
Jansenism during the Revolution: the Nouvelles ecclésiastiques in the face of dechristianization249
The “Ides of August 1814”: the Jansenists and the image of Port-Royal in the anti-Jesuitism of the Restoration273
A suppression revisited: Jansenism, conservatism, and the anti-Jesuit ordinances of 1828289
Writing religion into the French century of lights: the confessions of a Protestant historian of the Catholic Jansenist controversy309