The “Bon Curé” of Emberménil

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall

in The Abbe Gregoire and the French Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780520241800
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931091 | DOI:
The “Bon Curé” of Emberménil

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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In 1782, Henri Grégoire was named curé (parish priest) of Emberménil, as successor to his old mentor—something truly momentous for someone in his circumstances. Though he could have remained an important man in Emberménil until his death, Grégoire was to set his sights higher. Though Grégoire's activities in the 1780s are far less famous than his later actions, tracing them is important for several reasons. First, examining his practical attempts to improve his parish helps understand the roots of his ideas of regeneration and universalism. This chapter shows in particular his early interest in spreading enlightenment to groups he felt had been denied knowledge; in traveling as a means for learning about different cultures; and in using Johann Caspar Lavater's ideas on physiognomy to understand moral behavior and discusses the origins of his controversial stances on the Church during the Revolution.

Keywords: Henri Grégoire; curé; Emberménil; regeneration; universalism; enlightenment; Johann Caspar Lavater; physiognomy; Church; Revolution

Chapter.  8433 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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