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Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion$
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John McManners

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270046.001.0001

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The Theatre

The Theatre

Chapter:
(p.312) 34 The Theatre
Source:
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion
Author(s):

John McManners

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198270046.003.0013

Clerics, following the lead of Bossuet in Louis XIV's reign, continued their attacks on the wickedness of the theatre throughout the eighteenth century, but the rigidity and harshness laid down in theory was generally evaded by the laity and sections of the clergy alike. The theatre‐going public, including the court and the higher aristocracy, ignored clerical fulminations, while within the Church, the Jesuits in particular, who used the theatre for didactic purposes in their schools, were in an ambiguous position. In practice, the Church viewed the theatre as neither a Satanic invention encouraging sexual desire nor as a potentially educative institution, but as ‘an inevitable evil to be regulated as far as possible’. The harshness of official policy varied from diocese to diocese, while attempts to deny Christian burial to actors, as members of an immoral profession, were unpopular and contributed to anti‐clericalism.

Keywords:   actors, Jesuits, theatre

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