The Theatre

John McManners

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

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270041
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600692 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Theatre

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Clerics, following the lead of Bossuet in Louis XIV's reign, continued their attacks on the wickedness of the theatre throughout the eighteenth century, but the rigidity and harshness laid down in theory was generally evaded by the laity and sections of the clergy alike. The theatre‐going public, including the court and the higher aristocracy, ignored clerical fulminations, while within the Church, the Jesuits in particular, who used the theatre for didactic purposes in their schools, were in an ambiguous position. In practice, the Church viewed the theatre as neither a Satanic invention encouraging sexual desire nor as a potentially educative institution, but as ‘an inevitable evil to be regulated as far as possible’. The harshness of official policy varied from diocese to diocese, while attempts to deny Christian burial to actors, as members of an immoral profession, were unpopular and contributed to anti‐clericalism.

Keywords: actors; Jesuits; theatre

Chapter.  13602 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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