Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Erika Rummel

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor

Second Advisor

Peter Goddard

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor


This thesis examines the part played by French sermon and devotional literature during the reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII in providing a model of political and social order. Shortly after the end of the Wars of Religion the French clergy in the seventeenth century rejected the violent rhetoric of the panic preachers of the sixteenth century. These seventeenth-century preachers emphasized social and political obedience as part of the duty of the Christian. Through collaboration with the crown, the ecclesiastical estate was able to assist in the pacification of French society.

This was achieved in the following ways. Throughout the first decades of the seventeenth century works of devotional practices, such as François de Sales’ Introduction à la Vie Dévote, were very popular. Not only did these works represent the nature of Bourbon spirituality, these devotional programmes explained that interior reform of the soul would lead to the reform of external behaviour which would be manifested in acceptable social behaviour.

Within the sermon literature a discourse of royal authority developed. This discourse hearkened back to a traditional image of the French monarchs as the most Christian kings, along with new elements which prefigured the absolutist rhetoric of the clergy under Louis XIV. This rhetoric of strong monarchal authority is evident in the religious controversy between the Protestant ministers at Charenton and well placed Catholic figures at the court of Louis XIII. Taking place during the 1610s’, both sides of the confessional divide appealed to the king as the arbiter of religious disputes. This process helped augment the practice of royal authority.

Convocation Year