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Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion$
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John McManners

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270041

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198270046.001.0001

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The Fall of the Jesuits

The Fall of the Jesuits

(p.530) 43 The Fall of the Jesuits
Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

John McManners

Oxford University Press

The events leading to the expulsion of the Jesuits from France in 1765 took place against the background of a rising tide of public hostility to the Society of Jesus. Their traditional enemies within the Church joined with Enlightenment thinkers and a broad swathe of public opinion to accuse them of an unlimited will to power. They were accused of complicity in Damiens's attempt on the king's life; their relatively relaxed moral teachings were seen as an attempt to gain influence among the elite; and the financial misdeeds of father Lavalette in the West Indies provided the parlement of Paris with a line of attack. As the provincial parlements joined in the attack, the crown and the Jesuits’ friends in the Church failed to defend them properly. The suppression of the order in France was not as brutal as the earlier expulsion from Portugal and many ex‐Jesuits found comfortable niches in society. Once the Jansenists had overcome the Jesuits, they lost their own relevance on the political and religious scene: by expelling the Jesuits, the Jansenists ‘defined themselves out of existence’.

Keywords:   Damiens, Jansenists, Jesuits, parlements

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