Clerical Celibacy, Sex, and Marriage in Enlightenment and Revolutionary France


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores how changing attitudes towards celibacy, marriage, and the priesthood during the age of Enlightenment shaped the religious politics of the French Revolution as well as the lived experiences of French clerics. This study emphasizes the central role that clergymen played as both formidable advocates and opponents of the marriage of priests. During the Revolution, the majority of clerics remained celibate, yet a significant minority either embraced marriage or married under duress. The project investigates how political and religious authorities responded to the vexing problem of reconciling the existence of several thousand married French priests with the formal reestablishment of Roman Catholicism and clerical celibacy in post-Revolutionary France.