The Fall of the Jesuits

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 Fall of the Jesuits

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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

Chapter.  13991 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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