clergy, the canons, monks, and other clergymen, who were parasites on the resources of the parish. On the eve of the Revolution, numerous pamphlets were published by curés who identified their own struggle for justice against an aristocratic upper clergy with the struggle of French commoners in general.
Yet not all French elites were won over by these anticlerical attacks. It is important not to underestimate the importance of the vigorous French Catholic 'counter-Enlightenment' in the last decades of the ancien régime that was explicitly pro-clerical in its conception.3 In numerous books, reviews, pamphlets, and essays, authors such as Stanislaus Fréron and abbe Barruel, a former Jesuit, argued the dangers for religion, morality, and monarchy of the 'godless philosophy' of the age. Many were convinced of the existence of an invidious conspiracy between the Enlightenment and the Protestants to destroy the Catholic Church. They were thus particularly outraged by the 'Edict of Toleration' of 1787. These 'counter-revolutionaries' before the Revolution promoted a church and a society structured on the basis of hierarchy, authority, and tradition rather than on reason and utility.
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