A Lust For Virtue: Louis Xiv's Attack On Sin In Seventeenth-century France

Hardcover | June 1, 2001

byPhilip F. Riley

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As a hot-blooded young prince, Louis XIV paid little attention to virtue or to sin and, despite his cherished title of "God's Most Christian King," violations of God's Sixth and Ninth Commandments never troubled him. Indeed, for the first two decades of his reign, he paraded a stream of royal mistresses before all of Europe and fathered sixteen illegitimate children. Yet, 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. Using police and prison archives, administrative correspondence, memoirs, and letters, Riley 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. Throughout his attack on sin, women--so-called "Soldiers of Satan"--were the special targets of the police. By the seventeenth century, fornication and adultery had become exclusively female crimes; men guilty of these sins were rarely punished as severely. 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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As a hot-blooded young prince, Louis XIV paid little attention to virtue or to sin and, despite his cherished title of "God's Most Christian King," violations of God's Sixth and Ninth Commandments never troubled him. Indeed, for the first two decades of his reign, he paraded a stream of royal mistresses before all of Europe and fathere...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9.66 × 6.5 × 0.89 inPublished:June 1, 2001Publisher:Greenwood PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313317089

ISBN - 13:9780313317088

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.,."this book will be very useful to both students of history and professional historians. It brings together in one place a significant amount of important information about the efforts of Louis XIV to rule France, provides important insights into that ruler's character, presents further evidence of the importance of religion in seventeenth-century France, and adds to the reasons why many inhabitants of France were ready for a change in thought, religion, and morality after Louis XIV's death. In addition, the author has placed all of this information into the context of contemporary scholarship."-The American Historical Review