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date: 05 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the French Revolution’s early religious reforms and how Catholic citizens interacted with them. It shows that these reforms were popularly evaluated on whether they would maintain or extend religion’s capacity to promote a local community’s wellbeing. Given the dynamics and significance of this popular evaluation, such religious reforms must be understood comprehensively, instead of—as is often the case in contemporary historical literature—limiting one’s focus on just the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the 1791 Ecclesiastical Oath. It therefore traces all reforms and their implications for Catholics from 1789 to 1792: from the abolition of privileges to implementation of the lesser known requirements of the Civil Constitution, most notably parish circumscription. In the process, connections are made between popular interaction with religious reforms and the broader revolutionary trends of centralization, democratic acculturation, and state repression.

Keywords: biens nationaux, Civil Constitution of the Clergy, constitutional clergy, refractory clergy, centralization, parish circumscription, de-Christianization

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