Religion and the Politics of Time
Holidays in France from Louis XIV through Napoleon
Religion and the Politics of Time is an extensive study of the changes in religious holidays in Old Regime and Revolutionary France. It highlights the importance of cultural and religious history in the transformations of French society that took place from the mid-seventeenth through the early nineteenth century and tells an important story of the development of a French national calendar of holidays.
In Old Regime France, local bishops decided which holidays people living in their dioceses were required to observe. Even for non-Catholics, these were official holidays subject to the same regulations as Sundays, when most work was forbidden. In the seventeenth century, a diocese might have as few as 25 such days per year, or it might have as many as 45. Those numbers would decline significantly over the course of the eighteenth century in most of France as many holidays fell out of favor with most of society. Those changes, however, were only a prelude to the events of the French Revolution, when the revolutionaries attempted to do away with all traditional holidays and to institute a ten-day week. When Napoleon eliminated the republican calendar, he also took control over religious holidays from the church, while retaining only four holidays per year, and eliminating most legal prohibitions on Sunday work.
Religion and the Politics of Time is the first full-length study of changes that affected how and when the people of France were expected to celebrate or to work. Beyond these issues, the book is about interactions between the population at large and the major institutionsof French society—between the people and the Catholic Church under the Old Regime, then between the people and the republican and imperial states in Revolutionary France. The changes in holidays also involved decisions as to who had the authority to make those changes—in other words, the right to tell people what they could do and when they could do it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Noah Shusterman received his Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, and is lecturer in the Intellectual Heritage Program of Temple University. His specialized areas of interest are French and European history, as well as intellectual history and social theory.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"Shusterman's presentation of the political perspective is refreshing. . . . Shusterman's work is supported throughout by an impressive range of statistical data, maps and an indication of the range of perspectives from the elite to the grassroots." —Lianbi Zhu, French History
"[A] useful and interesting study. . . . Shusterman's book is well written and researched, and firmly grounded in a range of provincial archives. From every angle it is an impressive first book that deserves notice from a range of historians for its clear and convincing contextualizations." —Nigel Aston, American Historical Review
"Shusterman. . . Raises important general questions about the processes of modernization and the limits of state action, which suggests that both are more complex to unravel than we tend to suppose." —William Doyle, H-France Reivew
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