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'How far did European Society become less religious as a result of the 'Age of Revolutions'?

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Introduction

'How far did European Society become less religious as a result of the 'Age of Revolutions'? The 'age of revolutions' were seen by many and still are, as a time of extreme change, conflict and hostility, perhaps induced or brought about by new changes in thought, interpretation of natural law, religious ideals and the ruling authority/government. The revolutions of Europe furthermore provided large parts of society with the strong and fervent belief that different systems within this world could indeed be challenged and that new ideologies could be implemented and maintained. The French Revolution seemed to usher a new confidence into the common people, with the belief that they could actually change things and that it was possible and maybe even their right to dissociate themselves from the ancien regime, the old and seemingly rigid structure from whence they had come. It is essential to consider the legacy of intellectual movements such as the enlightenment with regard to the effect of secularisation within Europe within the period 1750 to 1850. If indeed the 'age of revolutions' did have an effect upon religious change and conformity, we must not presume that it was simply this one factor that produced this change. Now it is of great importance that we recognise the nomothetic nature of the question, in as far as the question states in one sense an area too vast to be covered in full. ...read more.

Middle

All appeals to Rome are forbidden.'- (J. Mcmanners, p.37) The French Revolution and the breakdown of Divine Providence meant a breakdown in the superiority and stability of religion. Subsequently, if God wasn't effective or important within leadership and rule of the country, then how important was He within society in general. Here we can see a turn in change of ideals and essentially hallmarks of what conjugates a revolution, in terms of public thought and hegemonic values. Following on from this stage and a man by the name of Napoleon arrives, whose military conquests and meteoric rise to become 'Empereur des Francais' would soon threaten the stability of Europe. A revolutionary in every sense of the word, he was quick to be respected and admired across France as someone who was 'of the people', who wanted to abolish feudalism forever and move France onto greater things. In 1801, he agreed a religious settlement ('Concordat') with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was recognised as the 'religion of the great majority of the population', the clergy were to be paid as state officials and purchasers of former Church lands were guaranteed possession. However, he was careful not to be seen as restoring Catholicism in its fullest sense and so was quick to issue this statement with the agreement of 1801: 'The people must have a religion and that religion must be in the hands of the government'- (Napoleon, 1801) ...read more.

Conclusion

As with many historical issues there were no set trends to the differences in secularisation across European society, brought about by the typically complicated, political and industrial diversification within late 18th and 19th century European society. Sources Cited: 1. B. Wilson, 'Religion in Secular Society', Penguin, Aylesbury, 1969 2. W. R. Ward, 'Religion and Society in England 1790-1850', Batsford, London, 1973 3. J. Mcmanners, 'The French Revolution and the Church', Greenwood Press, 1969 4. N. Hampson, 'A Social History of the French Revolution', Routledge, 1963 5. W. Church, 'The Influence of the Enlightenment on the French Revolution', Heath and Company, 1964 6. S.King and G. Timmins, 'Making Sense of the Industrial Revolution', Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2001 7. P. O'Brien and R. Quinault, 'The Industrial Revolution and British Society', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993 8. D. Van. Kley, 'The Religious Origins of the French Revolution', Yale University Press, New Haven, 1996 9. E. Abrams, 'Faith or fear?', The Free Press, New York, 1997 10. P. Halsall, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook.html, created in 1997 11. C. Dickens, 'A Tale of Two Cities', Penguin Classics, London, 1996 (2,200 words in total) 1 Ca Ira, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/caira.html, site created by Paul Halsall, 1998. 2 J. Mcmanners, 'The French Revolution and the Church', Greenwood Press, 1969 3 S. King, 'Making sense of the Industrial Revolution', Manchester, 2001, chapter 10 4 P. O'Brien and R. Quinault, 'The Industrial Revolution and British Society', Cambridge, 1996, p 78 5 D. V. Kley, 'The Religious origins of the French Revolution', 1996, p 234 6 Quote from Antoine-Guillaume Maurilhac Delmas, 1804, website unknown Alex Ewing 03036224 ...read more.

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