every town. In the Dutch Republic with its Protestant elite clubbing took a markedly reformist direction after the 1760s, and societies dedicated to Het Nut, the useful, sprang up in every town.

All these changes augured a discontent with authority. The democratic revolutions that breakout late in the 1780s in Amsterdam, Brussels, and most spectacularly in Paris, await a separate treatment. But the process by which Christianity lost its lustre and its clergy fell from the highest pedestals has to be factored into that central political transformation into the modern age. The possibility to think outside of any reference to Christian doctrine made an appearance in the second half of the seventeenth century, in a movement some historians have characterized as the radical Enlightenment. By late in the eighteenth century it had made possible a world where statesmen like Thomas Jefferson could rewrite the Bible to expunge its mysterious elements, scientists like Darwin in England and Laplace in France could dispense with God, revolutionaries in Paris could empty the churches of crosses and statutes and make them into temples of reason.


1. On the French court, see Nouvelles de l'Amerique, in Wolfenbuttel Library, Qu N 1080a, bound with Le Berger gentil-homme par Chavigni (Cologne: Pierre Gaillard, 1685) and Mademoiselle de Benonville. Nouvelle Galante (Liège: chez Louis Montfort, 1686).

2. Histoire de la decadence de la France prouvee par sa conduite (Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1687), p. 20: 'les yeux a la lumiere qui l'eclaire, que la France soubs les belles & trompeuses esperances qu'on lui a fait consevoir, a lache la bride a la fureur Catholique . . . '. On Louis XIV, see pp. 24-5; for the Jews, see p. 181.

3. La Reform dans la republique des lettres. Ou Discours sur les pretentions ridicules des demi -Scavans . . . (Cologne: chez ***, 1695), p. 41: 'Il est vray que ce m'est présentement quelque chose de bien glorieux, de pouvoir corriger les abus qui se sont introduits parmi nous. . . '. On exclusion, see pp. 28-9.

4. Amours des Dames illustres de Notre Siècle (Cologne: [Jean Le Blanc], 1681), pp. 171-3.

5. [Claude Diapré], LeJesuite secularisé (Cologne: Jacques Vilebard, 1683), pp. 187-90; on the Jesuits, see pp. 223-4. Cf. Sylvia Berti, 'The religious sources of unbelief, Journal of the history of ideas, 56 (1995), pp. 555-75.

6. Margaret C. Jacob, The Newtonians and the English Revolution, 168 9-172 0 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976), pp. 214-15.

7. Le CabinetJesuitique,p. 25, in Wolfenbuttel Library, Tq 1399; written by apious Huguenot. On the number of the Beast, see p. 225.

8. Relation de l'Accroissement de la Papacite et du Gouvernement Absolu en Angleterre (Hambourg: Pierre Pladt, 1680), in Wolfenbuttel Library, Qu N 895u; aimed against Charles II. On the scholastics, see [Le Noir, Jean], Les nouvelles lumieres politiques Pour le Gouvernement de l'Eglise, ou l'Evangile Nouveau du Cardinal Palavicin, new edn (Cologne:

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