By John McManners
During this moment quantity of McManner's magnum opus, the writer explores the family of Church and nation: the wealth of the clergy and their check of taxation, and their function within the reputable lifetime of the state, within the courtroom at Versailles, within the military and military, in collaboration with the police, and at the scaffold. He info in the course of the tensions in the Church institution and among clergy and laity, arriving at their denouement within the ultimate description of the descent of the reign of Louis XVI in the direction of the Revolution.
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Extra info for Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France: Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion
The manuals of the confessional, so often insisting on an impractical rigorism, urged generosity at the end. Any priest, whether furnished with the bishop's licence or not, could give absolution, and there were no cas réservés. There were to be no inquisitional questions: the confessor was not sitting in judgement on the dying man so much as ‘praying with him and for him’. The fear of death was assumed to be an inspiration for true contrition. Though the priest must do his best to bring his penitent to reconciliation with God, he was not assessing the value of his penitence.
In the chancel were the burial vaults of the family of the seigneur haut justicier and of a few other nobles enjoying a traditional privilege, and the memorial tablets of former curés, while in the nave were the tombs of families rich enough to afford the fees. Superstition had it that proximity to the altar would guarantee a better resurrection, and as the belief waned under the denunciations of the clergy, family pride took over to ensure the custom continued. The parishioners generally were buried in the churchyard, a few in individual plots, but most in the fosse commune, a deep trench kept open until its complement of corpses was reached, then ﬁlled in.
The dowry (possibly an immense sum coming with a girl from the new nobility of wealth) was a crucial factor, the other being family alliances. There was a world-weary justiﬁcation for following material advantage coming from Montaigne: marriage was not for love, but for ‘family and posterity’, and it was ‘a kind of incest’ to employ ‘the extravagances of amorous licence in the venerable and sacred marriage bond’. 84 Against these views, the theologians were insisting on genuine consent. ’ Not that the theologians supported unregulated reckless choice, or abandonment to passion.
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France: Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion by John McManners