Escaping from narrative history, this book takes a deep look at the Catholic question in eighteenth-century Ireland. It asks how people thought about Catholicism, Protestantism and their society, in order to reassess the content and importance of the religious conflict. In doing this, Dr Cadoc Leighton provides a study of very wide appeal, which offers new and thought-provoking ways of looking not only at the eighteenth century but at modern Irish history in general. It also places Ireland clearly within the mainstream of European historical developments.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, conversion took on a new importance within the Catholic world, as its leaders faced the challenge of expanding the church's reach to new peoples and continents while at the same time reinforcing its authority in the Old World. Based on new archival research, this book details the extraordinary stories of converts who embraced a new religious identity in a territory where papal authority and Catholic orthodoxy were arguably at their strongest: the Italian peninsula. Through an analysis of both the unique strategies employed by clerics to attract and educate converts, and the biographies of the men and women-soldiers, aristocrats, and charlatans-who negotiated new positions for themselves in Rome and the other cities of the peninsula, a new image of Italy during the Counter-reformation emerges: a place where repression and toleration alternated in unexpected ways, leaving room for negotiation and exchange with members of rival faiths.
The book presents authoritative and comprehensive analysis of the role of the Catholic church in France over 50 years of social, political and theological change. The impact of social secularization, of the changing role of women, attitudes to sexuality, of dramatic political change - from Algeria, the 1960s, the Mitterand era and the rise of Le Pen - and of battles over education are presented in historical context. The church's responses to challenges to its authority, its teachings and structural resources are analysed. The conclusion asks 'Wither the Catholic Church?' in modern France.
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