emerged spontaneously and almost always took place at newly sacred outdoor locations. Displaying a remarkable syncretism between religious and political martyrdom, they bore testimony to the creativity and resilience of believers, as well as to the richness of popular cultural expression.

In fact, the Revolution in certain ways reinforced the centrality of popular cultural practices for Catholics. During the Directory, parishioners partook in an upsurge in outdoor pilgrimages, devotional rituals at shrines or outdoor crosses, and above all, celebrations of age-old saints' festivals, complete with illegal processions, ceremonies, and dancing. In the process, believers not only flagrantly defied the republican calendar, but also resurrected practices that the Catholic Reformation clergy had so often attempted to repress and replace during the ancien regime. As the curé ofTronchoy (Yonne) commented in his own defence to the administrators of Epineuil, 'Haven't I been forced to concede to the wishes of the inhabitants and celebrate festivals suppressed many years ago, but to which they are still attached?'5

This grassroots struggle to rebuild Catholicism found certain parallels in the Protestant attempts to renew rituals and clerical networks as well. Interestingly, the decree in 1795 separating church and state placed Catholicism and Protestantism into the same legal category for the first time: neither religion received state recognition nor aid, and both were subject to the same laws regulating and curtailing public worship. If France's 470,000 Calvinists and 200,000 Lutherans shared this legal status (or non-status) with Catholics, they also faced some of the same difficulties. But these hardships were multiplied for a faith whose numbers were smaller and whose official position had barely begun to be regularized before the Revolution. Despite the marginal status of Protestantism, its clergy had been very hard hit by de-Christianization and widespread abdications. In all of France excluding Alsace, only about 120 pastors returned to lead worship in the mid-i790s, compared to perhaps 210 active ministers in 1793. Moreover, their organizational networks had been devastated by the Revolution: according to surviving records, only one Protestant synod met during the Directory, a small gathering in Haut-Languedoc in 1796.

The Protestant revival after the Terror took place on the congregational level and was markedly uneven in the different Protestant strongholds. In the countryside in Alsace and in many pockets oftraditional strength in the Midi, parishioners and theirpastors managed to return to collective practice between i795 and i798. They either made declarations to share churches or resumed outdoor worship modelled on the ancien régime 'Church of the Desert'. Daniel Robert has suggested that the rural return to religious practice outpaced the urban one because middle-class, urban Protestant notables seemed slower to

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment