Church, Society and Religious Change in France

Bergin, Joseph
Date published: 
June 2009

This wide-ranging and authoritative book is the first to fully synthesize the French experience of religious change in the period stretching between the Reformation and the early Enlightenment. The traumatic experiences of the wars of religion and the continuing challenge of Protestantism, made France an unusually potent site for significant religious upheavals and developments. The country was a crucible for theological doctrines and inventive practitioners, which generated considerable conflict but also stimulated religious reform and innovation. The dynamism of the French version of the Catholic Reformation surpassed anything elsewhere in Europe.Vividly rendering the religious history of France through its social, institutional and cultural contexts, Joseph Bergin explores the different agents, instruments and techniques employed to engineer religious transformations. Through a comprehensive examination of a huge volume of didactic religious literature, he shows how new religious ideas and practices were disseminated across French society in the hopes of shaping a new kind of devout Catholic. Assured, nuanced, and ground-breaking, this book illuminates the continually developing interaction between church and society in France, and uncovers the religiosity of the seventeenth century.