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Servetus Vs. Calvin: A Battle Of Monuments During The Secularization Of The French Third Republic

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Chapter Summary

One of the arguments that was used most often in the anti-Protestant dispute at the turn of the twentieth century was the Michael Servetus affair. For the Protestants, the problem was how to save the reputation of their great man John Calvin, without nevertheless endorsing the essential role that he played in the sad and bloody matter that they could only deplore in their conscience as modern men of the twentieth century. The debates around the Michael Servetus monuments are part of the fundamental historic step in the construction of French laïcité (secularism). Although this is not the only example of the exploitation of history by different existing parties, this unanimity in paying homage to an obscure heretic who had the misfortune to be a double victim in his time, seemed to be one of the most significant illustrations of a society in the process of secularization.

Keywords: French laïcité; John Calvin; Michael Servetus monuments; secularization; twentieth century



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