A Lust for Virtue: Louis XIV's Attack on Sin in Seventeenth-Century France

TitleA Lust for Virtue: Louis XIV's Attack on Sin in Seventeenth-Century France
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsRiley, Philip F.
Number of Pages224
PublisherGreenwood Press
CityWestport, CT
Abstract

Midway through his reign, in the critical decade of the 1680s, the lusty image of Louis XIV paled and was replaced by that of a straitlaced monarch committed to locking up blasphemers, debtors, gamblers, and prostitutes in wretched, foul-smelling prisons that dispensed ample doses of Catholic-Reformation virtue. The author demonstrates how this attack on sin expressed the punitive social policy of the French Catholic Reformation and how Louis's actions clarified the legal and moral distinctions between crime and sin.

Using police and prison archives, administrative correspondence, memoirs, and letters, the author describes the formation of Louis's narrow conscience and his efforts to safeguard his subjects' souls by attacking sin and infusing his kingdom with virtue, especially in Paris and at Versailles.  Although unsuccessful, Louis's attack on sin clarified the legal and moral distinctions between crime and sin as well as the futility of enforcing a religiously inspired social policy on an irreverent, secular-minded France.

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45618340

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