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By Philip F. Riley

Midway via his reign, within the serious decade of the 1680s, the lusty picture of Louis XIV paled and was once changed via that of a straitlaced monarch dedicated to locking up blasphemers, borrowers, gamblers, and prostitutes in wretched, foul-smelling prisons that allotted plentiful doses of Catholic-Reformation advantage. the writer demonstrates how this assault on sin expressed the punitive social coverage of the French Catholic Reformation and the way Louis's activities clarified the felony and ethical differences among crime and sin.

As a hot-blooded younger prince, Louis XIV paid little consciousness to advantage or to sin and, regardless of his loved name of God's so much Christian King, violations of God's 6th and 9th Commandments by no means afflicted him. certainly, for the 1st twenty years of his reign, he paraded a circulation of royal mistresses earlier than all of Europe and fathered 16 illegitimate youngsters. but, halfway via his reign, within the serious decade of the 1680s, the lusty photo of Louis XIV paled and used to be changed by means of that of a straitlaced monarch dedicated to locking up blasphemers, borrowers, gamblers, and prostitutes in wretched, foul-smelling prisons that distributed plentiful doses of Catholic-Reformation virtue.

Using police and legal records, administrative correspondence, memoirs, and letters, Riley describes the formation of Louis's slender moral sense and his efforts to protect his topics' souls by way of attacking sin and infusing his country with advantage, specifically in Paris and at Versailles. all through his assault on sin, women--so-called infantrymen of Satan--were the specific pursuits of the police. by means of the 17th century, fornication and adultery had turn into completely woman crimes; males responsible of those sins have been hardly punished as seriously. even though unsuccessful, Louis's assault on sin clarified the criminal and ethical differences among crime and sin in addition to the futility of implementing a religiously encouraged social coverage on an irreverent, secular-minded France.

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Extra info for A Lust for Virtue: Louis XIV’s Attack on Sin in Seventeenth-Century France

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The female prisoners passed messages through this wall, and street urchins taunted the prisoners and insulted the nuns when ordered off the wall. 47 Although well-born female sinners such as Mlle Leicester were confined in convents, male sinners, whose families could afford the pension, were frequently incarcerated in private correctional asylums, such as the abbey prison of Saint-Germain des Prés. Between 1674 and 1684, when the aged prisons of the Châtelet were being refurbished, felons and military prisoners had been temporarily assigned here.

Despite the emphasis upon spirituality, liturgical piety in the prison was far from uplifting. Sermons at daily Mass, according to a police report, were uninspiring; rarely did the Mission Fathers say a High Mass or even try to enliven their sermons with compelling penitential spirituality. Virtually no attention was invested in the spiritual welfare of the ill. The Mission Fathers generally did not visit sick prisoners nor did they bring them communion or perform the last rites. All of these duties, when performed, were handled by priests from the nearby parish of Saint-Laurent.

19 Louis’s identification with Apollo signaled to all that he was indeed the slayer of the dragons of political discord unleashed by the civil wars, the new enforcer of French religious piety, and, most importantly, the indomitable Sun King radiating power, stability, and justice for all his kingdom. 20 The allegory of the Sun King infused Louis’s reign with one of the most potent mythological symbols of antiquity, allowing the royal architects, generals, painters, and poets and the Paris police to create a new seventeenth-century mythology of Louis XIV, the Sun King.

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