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Religion, Ethics, and History in the French Long Seventeenth Century - La Religion, la morale, et l’histoire à l’âge classique


William Brooks and Rainer Zaiser

In June 2006 delegates from eight countries representing six French, US, and British-based learned societies met at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, for a conference on the French long seventeenth century entitled ‘Modernités/Modernities’. Twenty of the best papers on religion, ethics and history were selected for this volume, and they present new perspectives on topics as diverse as devotion and pornography, artifice and the pursuit of truth, Bruscambille and Pascal, historiography from the sixteenth century to Voltaire, and, of course, the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes.
En juin 2006 un colloque sur le thème de la modernité pendant l’âge classique a réuni à St Catherine’s College, Oxford des spécialistes venus de huit pays pour représenter six sociétés savantes dont quatre françaises, une américaine, et une britannique. Vingt communications choisies parmi les meilleures sont recueillies dans le présent volume, sur des sujets aussi divers que la dévotion et la pornographie, l’artifice et la recherche de la vérité, Bruscambille et Pascal, l’historiographie tant du seizième siècle que de Voltaire et, bien entendu, la Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes.


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Mad or Bad? The Odd Obsessions of Abbé Jean-Baptiste Thiers 295


PAUL SCOTT Mad or Bad? The Odd Obsessions of Abbé Jean-Baptiste Thiers In 1674, while on an official pastoral visitation of Champrond, a small rural parish within the diocese of Chartres, the visiting archdeacon, Jean Robert, was welcomed with what was, for him, an unedifying spectacle upon his arrival. As the assembled community waited inside the church, the parish priest, Jean-Baptiste Thiers, stood at the build- ing’s doors to greet the visitor wearing his pastoral stole draped over his surplice. It was the fact that the curé wore his stole that precipi- tated an altercation at the church entrance, for Robert, along with many archdeacons, held that wearing a stole signified the possession of jurisdiction; an inferior should not therefore wear it in the presence of his immediate superior.1 Another of the diocese’s archdeacons was the complainant in an action against ten clergy of his own arch- 1 The archbishop of Amiens had been involved in a public argument in 1669 with the dean of his cathedral for wearing a stole in his presence, which led to the prelate storming out in anger after having excommunicated the audacious priest. See Procez verbal d’une excommunication majeure fulminée par Reve- rend Pere en Dieu, Messire François Faure Evesque d’Amiens: Contre Mon- sieur le Clerc, Prestre, Docteur en Theologie de la Societé de Sorbonne, Doyen et Chanoine de l’Eglise Royale de Roye, pour n’avoir voulu quitter l’Estolle en sa presence (Paris: J. Bouillerot, 1670). This hastily uttered excommunication was nullified upon...

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