The Politics of Religion in Early Modern France


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Joseph Bergin

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Rich in detail and broad in scope, this majestic book is the first to reveal the interaction of politics and religion in France during the crucial years of the long seventeenth century. Joseph Bergin begins with the Wars of Religion, which proved to be longer and more violent in France than elsewhere in Europe and left a legacy of unresolved tensions between church and state with serious repercussions for each. He then draws together a series of unresolved problems—both practical and ideological—that challenged French leaders thereafter, arriving at an original and comprehensive view of the close interrelations between the political and spiritual spheres of the time.
The author considers the powerful religious dimension of French royal power even in the seventeenth century, the shift from reluctant toleration of a Protestant minority to increasing aversion, conflicts over the independence of the Catholic church and the power of the pope over secular rulers, and a wealth of other interconnected topics.
Joseph Bergin is emeritus professor of history, University of Manchester, and a world-renowned historian of France.

“If it is easy to grasp the challenge that Protestant dissent posed to the Catholic monarchy of early modern France, the depth and persistence of conflicts over Gallican liberties, Jansenism, and relations with the papacy are harder to fathom. Joseph Bergin’s masterful study of the complex politics of religion goes a long way toward solving these mysteries.”—Barbara Diefendorf, author of Beneath the Cross: Catholics and Huguenots in Sixteenth-Century Paris

“Religious issues played a crucial role in French politics throughout the long seventeenth century, yet much of this complex story continues to baffle students and even serious historians. Joseph Bergin’s wonderfully lucid and comprehensive treatment fills an enormous gap in the historiography of the period. This book is more than recommendable, it should be essential reading.”—Robin Briggs, author of Early Modern France, 1560-1715

“[A] refreshing, rich and rewarding synthesis.”—Mark Greengrass, Times Literary Supplement

“What a challenge, and how fully and magnificently it has been met!”—Sylvie Daubresse, Histoire, Economie et Société

“Joseph Bergin’s book is a magisterial lesson in historical writing… indispensable and stimulating."—Julien Léonard, Revue Historique

“Bergin masterfully demonstrates the centrality of religion in the political transformations of early modern France. His book will serve as a valuable resource for specialists searching for a clear and thorough synthesis of a wide array of scholarship and as a useful guide for students.”—Daniel J. Watkins, Journal of Church and State

“Joseph Bergin is no stranger to the politics of religion in early modern France with his substantial publications. . . . Bergin’s new study carefully tracks the complex struggle between . . . the many competing forces within France during the period.”—John B. Roney, Fides et Historia

“Perhaps no one but Joseph Bergin could have written this book, as it is probably the crowning work of his long career studying the Catholic Church in France during the seventeenth century. . . . Well written and persuasive, it will likely be a long time before it is superseded.”—Frederic J. Baumgartner, Catholic Historical Review

“This is an impressive book. . . . [T]he reader can be confident that they are in the hands of an assured, judicious, and authoritative guide. . . . Recommended reading.”—Penny Roberts, Renaissance Quarterly
ISBN: 9780300207699
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
392 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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