Civic Catechisms and Reason in the French Revolution by Adrian Velicu

By Adrian Velicu

On the center of the French Revolution there lay a basic paradox: the right way to free up the minds of the folks when at the same time making sure their loyalty to the recent regime. it really is an exploration of the proof and implications of this rigidity that varieties the root of this examine, which reconstructs the highbrow international of the Revolution. the hot radical regime attacked the previous institutionalized varieties of Catholic worship and its different types of guideline, but retained the catechetical outlook with its dogmatic approach as a big function of political schooling. Catechisms not just conveyed details in an obtainable demeanour, additionally they published the highbrow trends of the orator. Civic catechisms shaped a big a part of progressive guideline; they have been the single type of texts many times pointed out within the nationwide meeting and in numerous items of laws, together with schooling money owed, and there have been demands a 'national catechism'. The prestige and type of the catechisms replaced through the Revolution, and this examine additionally investigates the measure of continuity of objective around the interval, in addition to the catechisms' position along different texts corresponding to speeches and money owed. a massive contribution to the literature at the highbrow background of the French Revolution, this ebook can be of curiosity to students of rhetoric, schooling and the highbrow historical past of the eighteenth century, in addition to to innovative reports often.

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Dhotel, Les origines, p. 425. 42 Catéchisme de courtisans (Cologne, 1668), pp. 45 The catechumens would understand better a story of concrete happenings than a series of abridged abstract arguments. 46 Besides, the pupil need not learn the text by heart, but use it as a basis for discussion. All this was controversial. The Vatican placed Fleury’s Catéchisme historique on the Index (albeit with the proviso ‘until corrected’), yet the text in its shorter and longer versions achieved a certain fame in France and abroad.

56. For this and the subsequent remarks see ‘Catéchisme’ in Dictionnaire de l’Ancien Régime: Royaume de France XVIe-XVIIIe siècle. Ed. Lucien Bély (Paris, 1996). 24 There was a tension between the tone of controversy, required by circumstances or preserved by imitators, and the educational purpose. Instruction of untutored adults and children presupposed simplicity and clarity. Controversy often entailed rather complex doctrinal matters. Nevertheless, the dialogue form in which Calvin and Auger’s texts were cast is considered the decisive element in the development of the genre, constituting a clear break with the tradition of the early church.

The controversial matters, no longer present in the plainer and shorter catechisms for the uninstructed, gave rise to a new category of catechetical texts (‘catéchismes de controverse’). Soon enough, the catechisms aimed at the newly converted made up a further category. After 1600, as these new sub-genres took form, the reformist ‘threat’ diminished considerably in France. The Protestant catechisms were clearly more defensive, fewer in number and usually printed abroad. About the middle of the seventeenth century and during the following decades there was a diversification: there are catechisms meant for missionary work (basically among the Protestants in France), catechisms used in schools and catechisms for adults.

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