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The Age of Enlightenment and the Secularisation of France

Aside from the Enlightenment, the 18th century was marked by the French Revolution (1789) and the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen". The tension of the politico-religious situation of the Old Regime (Louis XIV’s fight against an "all Catholic France"), the questions of freedom of conscience, the civil constitution of the clergy (difficulties of a peaceful religious pluralism), and the philosophy of the Enlightenment were the breading ground for secularism.
The Concordat regime (of recognised religions) was established in France from 1789 to 1804. This change is often considered the first step in France’s secularisation. An institutional fragmentation was under way (medicine and education are independent of the Church and pluralism of recognised religions). The drafting of the French Civil Code demonstrates the recognition of the social legitimacy of religion, but it is also means increased independence for the civil sector with respect to the religious sector. The State finally considered the religion of the majority as a recognised social fact.

D 24 September 2012    AAnne-Laure Zwilling

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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