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Calvin’s Image In Catholic France During The Nineteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

"Calvin's spirit was tyrannical," according to one Frenchman, Voltaire, speaking about another Frenchman, John Calvin. No one will be surprised by Voltaire's opinion about the Reformer (Voltaire being positive about the religious Reformer certainly would be more remarkable), but his remark gives a good impression of the overall image of Calvin in the French collective memory. The basic color of Calvin in the French collective memory was black. In the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century some grey accents were added, mainly due to huge efforts of Protestants like Doumergue. From a methodological perspective, this chapter begins with an account of Calvin in France with a introduction to the fundamental discussions and political developments in the postrevolutionary era. It assesses the Catholic reading of Calvin's character since it was the prevailing one during the past two centuries and therefore shaped the collective consciousness through catechisms, pious literature and sermons.

Keywords: French collective memory; John Calvin; Voltaire's opinion



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