Religion and the Politics of Time

Religion and the Politics of Time

NOAH SHUSTERMAN
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 299
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt28529z
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Religion and the Politics of Time
    Book Description:

    Religion and the Politics of Time is an extensive study of the changes in religious holidays in Old Regime and Revolutionary France.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1813-7
    Subjects: History, Anthropology, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF MAPS AND FIGURES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    In 1599, king Henri IV sent Cardinal d’Ossat as an ambassador to visit Pope Clement VIII in Rome. France was recovering from the Wars of Religion, and Henri IV thought that the large number of religious holidays throughout the kingdom was an obstacle to that recovery. The king hoped that the pope would reduce the number of holidays, in order to increase the number of days when people could work. The pope declined, although he was not unsympathetic to the request. Clement VIII did not view such a reform as being part of his role, as holidays were a local...

  8. 1 RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS AND TEMPORAL AUTHORITY IN OLD REGIME FRANCE
    (pp. 12-37)

    According to traditional Catholic theology, all days are holy. Some days, however, are more holy than others—and the Catholic Church has long had a tradition of celebrating some days more than others. This tradition began with the early Christians’ weekly celebration of Sunday, when they went to church and refrained from working.¹ Medieval Catholics added a variety of other holidays, usually commemorating either events of the New Testament or the martyrdom of a particular saint. Given the number of Catholic saints and martyrs, such commemorations quickly spread throughout the year. Eventually every day of the calendar, even 29 February,...

  9. 2 POLITICS OF TIME AND THE POLITICS OF THE TIMES, 1642–1695
    (pp. 38-66)

    In the mid-seventeenth century, French dioceses devoted an average of thirty-three weekdays per year to religious holidays. By the 1780s, that number had dropped to eighteen. The lion’s share of those changes occurred during the second half of the eighteenth century (the subject of chapter 3). It was in the mid-seventeenth century, however, that the movement to lower the number of religious holidays in France began. This chapter looks at why that movement started, and at some of the obstacles it faced.

    While there had been some reforms limiting the number of religious holidays before the mid-seventeenth century, those were...

  10. 3 CENTRALIZATION WITHOUT THE STATE: Religious Holidays in the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 67-97)

    In relating one of his many nighttime wanderings, the writer and observer Rétif de la Bretonne commented on a young man he saw leaving his lover’s apartment and, in the process, making enough noise to wake up all of the workers living in the neighborhood. “I have always been surprised,” he wrote, “that today’s police give so little attention to the nocturnal tranquility of the city dwellers. . . . It seems to me that, in a well-regulated society, workers’ rest should be respected; that it should be prohibited for the idle, the libertines, the beggars, and especially for dogs,...

  11. 4 WHICH TIME FOR THE FUTURE? Utility, Anti-Clericalism, and the Calendar
    (pp. 98-115)

    The philosophes of the Enlightenment did not think much of the fêtes chômées. Like many within the catholic church, they saw the holidays as occasions of debauchery and superstition. But the philosophes also saw in the holidays the continued influence and dominance of the Catholic church. So when they took the time to discuss religious holidays it was rarely to say anything positive either about the holidays themselves or about the secular authorities’ inaction in the matter. The Enlightenment critiques of the holidays reflected some of the main themes of the Enlightenment as a whole: the valorization of work, the...

  12. 5 SEEING LIKE A CHURCH: Religious Time and Republican Politics, 1789–VI
    (pp. 116-160)

    The Revolution affected most aspects of life in France, and religious holidays were no exception. The Old Regime system of episcopal control over the choice of holidays and half-hearted state enforcement of those choices would not fit in with the priorities of the Revolution. Episcopal power had meant more autonomy for the church than the new order would accept; it had also meant a degree of local variation and regional traditionalism that the revolutionaries opposed. The changing relationship between the state and the Catholic Church, meanwhile, would mean changes in the political stakes of religious practice. Starting with the 1789...

  13. 6 RELUCTANT MISSIONARIES: Enforcement of the Republican Calendar, VI–VII
    (pp. 161-205)

    On 9 vendémiaire VII—a Sunday—municipal agents in the department of the seine-et-Marne paid a visit to a local elementary school. There had been complaints that the teachers, mostly women, had been refusing to keep schools open on sundays and other traditional Christian holidays. The inspector found that the school was “more done-up than usual” that day, and that the workroom was deserted. The school’s “republican books” appeared never to have been read. The inspector asked one of the girls in the school to come up to the front of the class and read from one of those books,...

  14. 7 UNE LOI DE L’EGLISE ET DE L’ETAT: Napoleon and the Central Administration of Religious Life, 1800–1815
    (pp. 206-236)

    In 1599, a delegate of Henri IV asked Pope Clement VIII to limit the number of religious holidays observed in France. The pope denied the request, choosing to leave the matter in the hands of France’s bishops and archbishops. In 1801, Napoleon made a similar request. Like Henri IV, Napoleon ruled a France that had been ravaged by civil wars and religious strife. Unlike Henri IV, however, Napoleon had considerable leverage in his dealings with the pope as well as in his dealings with France’s episcopacy. The pope granted Napoleon’s request, and on 9 April 1802 Cardinal Caprara, a papal...

  15. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 237-246)

    In 1981 French President François Mitterrand added 8 May to the list of officially observed holidays, in commemoration of the allied victory in World War II. The day quickly became a legal holiday in all of France; shops and offices were closed, workers were given paid leave. Observance was as complete as for any of the other, older holidays.¹ Mitterrand, a publicly elected official subject to constitutional limits on his power, had worked with France’s National Assembly to institute the holiday. There was no significant contestation of the French government’s prerogative in the matter. The most striking limits on its...

  16. Appendix A. ESTIMATING THE NUMBER OF RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS IN OLD REGIME FRANCE
    (pp. 247-264)
  17. Appendix B. THE REPUBLICAN CALENDAR: ORGANIZATION AND SELECTIVE CHRONOLOGY
    (pp. 265-266)
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 267-292)
  19. Index
    (pp. 293-300)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-302)