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Pious sociability and the spiritual elite in seventeenth-century France c.1650-1680

Hillman, Jennifer (2011) Pious sociability and the spiritual elite in seventeenth-century France c.1650-1680. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Seventeenth-century female rigorists have received little archival study since the nineteenth century, when they were at once mythologized as beautiful luminaries or 'precieuses' who monopolized the salons, and reduced to the 'Belles Amies' of the Jansenist convent of Port-Royal. This study attempts to show that they have been misinterpreted. It shows that by neglecting the correspondence of these women, historians have missed some of the richest descriptions of how female piety evolved after the devot generation pioneered the Catholic Reformation in France. This thesis proposes that within the seventeenth-century Parisian rigorist movement there was an aristocratic friendship network comprised of women who socialized and worshipped together. It argues that within this group a socially and spiritually exclusive devotional culture developed, which it terms Pious Sociability. It seeks to show how Pious Sociability was characterized by intimate 'spiritual friendships', an aversion towards the licentious culture of an increasingly libertine royal court, and distinctive, anti-Baroque devotional practices. It suggests that the Pious Sociability of rigorist penitents may have informed, and been informed by, their perception of themselves as God's spiritual elite with an affinity with the early Christian community. Drawing upon manuscript and printed sources, this study demonstrates the significance of female pious networks to the history of the Catholic Reformation in France. It aims to offer an organic approach to the study of elite female culture, nuancing existing histories of post-Tridentine devotion and plotting the unfolding of feminine sociability beyond the salon.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Dr Jennifer Hillman
Date Deposited: 24 May 2012 13:05
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2378

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