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The Divisions of French Catholicism, 1629-1645

For much of the sixteenth-century, France was wracked with religious strife, as the Wars of Religion pitted Catholic against Protestant. Whilst the conversion of Henri IV to Catholicism ended much of the conflict, the ensuing peace highlighted the fractious nature of French Catholicism and the many competing threads that ran through it. This book investigates the gradual division of the French Catholic reform movement, often associated with those known as the 'devots' during the first half of the seventeenth century. Such division, it is argued, was emerging before the publication in France (1641) of the posthumous 'Augustinus' of Jansenius, not simply as a sequel to that. Those who were already distinguishing themselves from other 'devots' before that date were thus not yet identifiable as 'Jansenists'. Rather, the initial defining sentiment was increasing French hostility towards Jesuit involvement in Catholic Reform, both at home and abroad. Drawing on sources from the Jesuit archives in Rome and on Port-Royal material in Paris, the book begins with an investigation into the development of Catholic Reform in France, showing the problems that emerged before 1629 and the degree to which these were or were not resolved. The second half of the book contrasts the fragmentation of the movement in the years beyond 1629, and the context of Richelieu's new directions in French foreign policy. Covering a crucial period in the lead up to the establishment of an absolute monarchy in France, this book provides a rich new explanation of the development of French political and ecclesiastical history. It will be of interest not only to those studying the early modern period, but to anyone wishing to understand the roots of French secular society.
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Table of Contents

Contents: Part I Prologomena: The historical context; The original context; The Devot movement; The progress of the Devots, 1615-1629. Part II The Heart of the Matter: The political pressures; The emerging tensions; The defining critique; The outcome; Select bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Anthony D. Wright, University of Leeds, UK.


'Scholars interested in conflicts between regular and secular clergy will ... find here a wealth of new material... Recommended.' Choice 'The Divisions of French Catholicism succeeds in underscoring the profound disunity among Catholic reformers in early and mid-seventeenth-century France. The book will especially interest scholars of the Catholic Reformation, French Catholicism, Jansenism, and the Jesuits.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'For Wright, the Jansenist dichotomy of true and false orthodoxy, in which they were the champions of legitimate doctrine, was fatally destructive of the original Devot vision of an all-Catholic France. Targeted towards the specialist in seventeenth-century French Catholic history, this work repays close attention, because it provides a thorough examination of the disintegration of this vision as the Devots identified the enemies that they feared stood within their own ranks.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'Wright offers a new, important perspective on Jansenism's origins.' American Historical Review

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