Like the Bouthilliers, the Colberts, the Fouquets and the Letelliers, the Arnauld family rose to prominence in France at the end of the 16th century by attaching themselves to the king. Their power and influence depended upon absolute loyalty and obedience to the sovereign whose own power they sought to enhance. Dictates of conscience, however, brought all that to an end and put the family in conflict with the king and the pope. As a result of the religious conversion of Angelique Arnauld early in the 17th century, the family eventually adopted a set of religious principles that appeared Calvinist to some ecclesiastical authorities. These "Jansenist" principles were condemned by the papacy and Louis XIV. The travails of conscience experienced by the Arnauld family, and the resulting religious schism that separated different branches, divided husbands from wives and parents from children. However, neither the historic achievements of individual family members nor the differences of opinion between them could obscure the sense of family solidarity.
Alexander Sedgwick explores this tumultuous period of French history which coincided with and punctuates the Arnauld family's struggle with the world. He seeks to show how this family reacted to momentous political and religious developments, as well as the ways in which individual members, by means of their own convictions, helped shape the history of their time.
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(235mm x 155mm x 29mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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Author Biography - Alexander Sedgwick
Alexander Sedgwick is University Professor, Emeritus, the University of Virginia.