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Christian moralism is an irony rarely noted or explained. While historians have long recognised the importance of Christianity to feminism in the second half of the nineteenth century, anti-religious or freethinking ideas have never received more than a brief mention. Historians of feminism have either passed over or misrepresented the freethinking views of certain leading feminist figures, while studies of the Freethought movement have

in Infidel feminism
Marriage, birth control and sexual morality

a radical re-imagining of sexual norms and conduct. The Freethought renunciation of Christianity necessarily entailed a rejection of the moral authority of the Church, particularly its role in legitimising sexual relations. Secularists were therefore required to find a new basis for morality, and questions of sex were at the centre of this project to establish new ethical criteria. In some cases Secularists’ rejection of

in Infidel feminism
Abstract only

, neither was part of national life, neither had any impact on the everyday life of the masses. The ‘consoling idea’ of immortality had its positive aspects, but was that all that was on offer? No-one seemed to be seriously working towards filling the God-shaped hole in most people’s lives, and this new moral system, unlike a real religion, seemed to be totally lacking in the essential ingredients necessary for its successful continuation. Unlike the old church there was no rulebook, no uplifting or edifying stories to be heard, no martyrs and saints to look up to, even

in Robespierre and the Festival of the Supreme Being
The search for a republican morality

In Year 2 of the Revolution (1794) Robespierre, seeking to establish a new deist national morality created the Festival of the Supreme Being celebrated on 20 Prairial Year 2 (8 June 1794). This book begins by tracing the progress in the development of Robespierre’s thinking on the importance of the problem which the lack of any acceptable national moral system through the early years of the Revolution had created, his vision of a new attitude towards religion and morality, and why he chose a Revolutionary Festival to launch his idea. It focusses on the importance of the Festival by showing that it was not only a major event in Paris, with a huge man-made mountain on the Champ de Mars; it was also celebrated in great depth in almost every city, town and village throughout France. It seeks to redefine the importance of the Festival in the history of the Revolution, not, as historians have traditionally dismissed it, merely as the performance of a sterile and compulsory political duty, but on the contrary, as a massively popular national event. The author uses source material from national and local archives describing the celebrations as well as the reaction to the event and its importance by contemporary commentators. This is the first book since the 1980s and the only work in English to focus on this Festival and to redefine its importance in the development of the Revolution.

1 Towards a new republican morality Any attempt to follow the development of Robespierre’s thinking, leading finally to the speech of 18 Floréal (7 May 1794)  and proclamation of the festival in honour of the Supreme Being on 20 Prairial Year II (8 June 1794) has to try to answer two main questions. The first is whether progress in his thinking on the importance of the problem which the lack of any acceptable national moral system through the early years of the Revolution had created can be traced. The second is why he chose a Revolutionary Festival to launch

in Robespierre and the Festival of the Supreme Being
Abstract only
The city and its people in the mid-sixteenth century

a ‘shared commitment to community norms, peace, unity and commonweal’ by elites and popular groups.67 The city was a moral and spiritual union of people which provided the agency for a life of goodness, virtue and probity.68 There was no legally defined status of citizen in sixteenth-century Nantes, but the inhabitants were entitled to certain rights, according to individual status, wealth, gender, age and membership of a corporation or an estate. Political functions, the holding of public office or the participation in the election of municipal government

in Authority and society in Nantes during the French wars of religion, 1559–98
Clerical responses to the British campaign

increased when it became apparent, as the previous chapter has shown, that ‘neither sacred places nor sacred persons were spared’, as Pope Benedict XV put it in a public letter to Cardinal Logue in April 1921.2 This new focus on British atrocities enabled the clergy to shift their attention away from the moral dilemmas that republican violence presented. However, it also created fresh problems. Clerical condemnations of IRA violence had often included protestations of the innocence of Catholic RIC members. Now that denunciations began to focus on the  wrongdoings of the

in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment

culture is strongly and unmistakably present in Zora Neale Hurston’s life and literature. (1988: 5) It is in her description of the ‘ethical’ impact of Hurston’s writing that Cannon’s work is most persuasive. She argues that dominant ethical systems presuppose a degree of freedom and a wide range of choices that prove null and void in situations of oppression. Lacking the self-directing agency assumed of the moral subject, black women display instead what Cannon, following Mary Burgher (1979), describes as quiet grace. Such grace is the quality which enables existence

in Literature, theology and feminism
Condemnation from the pulpit

traditionally recognised the British state and discouraged the use of physical force by republicans in return for the protection of their interests in education.2 The discouragement of violence was thus an important aspect of the clergy’s traditional political alignment. This goal was pursued principally by exerting moral pressure on Irish Catholics through condemnation, although from time to time it was also served by forming alliances with radical republicans in order to exert a mitigating influence.3 Clerical opposition to violence was inspired not only by political

in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment
Interaction with republicans

intimidation of clerics. This chapter looks first at instances of clerical obstruction of the IRA and its consequences, and then at republican criticism of clerical condemnation. Subsequently, it analyses the different theological arguments about the moral status of the guerrilla war and their implications. Finally, it looks at another important question concerning the clergy’s response: it asks whether clergy furthered or countered the allegedly sectarian nature of the guerrilla campaign.   1 TNA, CO904/109, IGMR, August 1919, p. 755. 66 OBEYING THE LAW OF GOD

in Freedom and the Fifth Commandment