Italy
Roman ‘tyranny’ and radical Catholic opposition
in The Enlightenment and religion

This chapter discusses a case study that provides a different context of the Enlightenment. The experience of Catholic dissidents in the Italian peninsula provides some similarities with the struggles in France. The chapter illustrates that broad politico-religious struggle, rather than the actions of the philosophes, provides the most significant challenge to the status quo of Enlightenment Europe. It sheds light on the nature of the polemical challenge that radical Catholics–Jansenists advanced against Roman theocracy and Church jurisdiction in the independent states of the Italian peninsula. In the practical absence of the voices of deists and philosophes, the broad Catholic forces opposed the ‘tyranny’ of Rome in very forceful terms remarkably similar to those of dissenting Protestants. This chapter also demonstrates how politics and religion were intertwined, and that the broad politicisation of religion is really the key to understanding religious change in the Enlightenment.

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The Enlightenment and religion

The myths of modernity

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