Keith P. Luria, Sacred Boundaries: Religious Coexistence and Conflict in Early-Modern France, The Catholic University of America Press: Washington, 2005; 357 pp.; 0813214114, $69.95 (hbk)

Keith P. Luria, Sacred Boundaries: Religious Coexistence and Conflict in Early-Modern France, The Catholic University of America Press: Washington, 2005; 357 pp.; 0813214114, $69.95 (hbk)
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Transcript    European History Quarterly online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/02656914080380030620 2008 38: 491 European History Quarterly  Luc Racaut (hbk)America Press: Washington, 2005; 357 pp.; 0813214114, $69.95and Conflict in Early-Modern France, The Catholic University of Review: Keith P. Luria, Sacred Boundaries: Religious Coexistence  Published by:  can be found at: European History Quarterly  Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions:  at Univ of Newcastle upon Tyne on October 4, 2010ehq.sagepub.comDownloaded from   Keith P. Luria , Sacred Boundaries: Religious Coexistence and Conflict in Early-ModernFrance , The Catholic University of America Press: Washington, 2005; 357 pp.;0813214114, $69.95 (hbk)This book concerns religious coexistence in seventeenth-century Poitou and its conclu-sions have significance for the whole of France. The period immediately after the Edict of Nantes has been neglected by historians of religious coexistence, who tend to focus on themore volatile period of the Wars of Religion. As the author demonstrates, however, theseventeenth century offers far richer sources for studying religious coexistence. Luriaexplores various kinds of confessional boundaries in chapters largely organized aroundthematic rubrics: politics, re-catholicization, death and burial, marriage,women, andconscience.Over 15 years ago, Denis Crouzet denounced a ‘history without god’. While religionhas undoubtedly come back into the history of the French Reformation, one could arguewith Luria that it is a ‘history without confessions’. Few historians now accept unre-servedly the traditional map of Europe being divided into clear Protestant and Catholicblocs. Moreover, the idea that there was such a thing as Catholic and Protestant uni-formity is increasingly challenged by recent research. As far as France is concerned, RobinBriggs has demonstrated that French Catholicism was a far cry from what had beenintended at the Council of Trent, while Ray Mentzer has shown the distance that existedbetween the practices of French Protestants and the precepts issued in Geneva. Luria’swork demolishes further any vestiges of a monolithic understanding of confessions byshowing how fluid the boundaries between them really were. Where Thierry Wanegffelenhas questioned a confessional understanding of this period on theological grounds, Luriashows that individuals’ sense of belonging to a religious community was informed by farmore mundane concerns. These concerns were often in contradiction to the interests of thestate, focused on the strict observance of the law and peace keeping, on the one hand, andthe religious authorities, who had most to gain from hard and fast distinctions betweenconfessions, on the other. The role of the state’s promotion of religious coexistence at thebeginning of the century in the emergence of such clearly defined confessional boundariestowards the end of the century is one of the most fascinating insights provided by SacredBoundaries .Luria identifies three forms of confessional boundaries: blurred, negotiated, and hard.While taking the risk of doing the book’s sophisticated argument an injustice, it can besaid that the notion of blurred boundaries best describes the reality of most bi-confessionalcommunities in this period; because of intermarriage, shared burial grounds and thevagaries of personal and interpersonal allegiances, individuals’ confessions mattered lessthan good neighbourliness. The negotiated boundary followed the enforcement of theEdict of Nantes, the monarchy believing that peaceful coexistence could be achievedthrough careful negotiation. The hard boundary is the one most familiar to the confession-ally minded historian: Catholic and Protestant hierarchies at once used the porous qualityof blurred boundaries for reclaiming souls though conversion, while trying to enforceReviews    at Univ of Newcastle upon Tyne on October 4, 2010ehq.sagepub.comDownloaded from   strict boundaries to prevent further defections to the other side. Luria’s command of thearchival sources and his ability to retell the stories of individuals ‘caught in the middle’, touse a phrase coined by Ethan Shagan, are the most admirable features of this book. Onecannot do justice in a review of this length to the fascinating stories of inter-confessionalmarriages, conflict over burial grounds, conversions, re-conversions and relapses whichgoverned, it seems, the lives of so many seventeenth-century Frenchmen and women.Other notable features are the amazons and heroines who contributed to the constructionof confessional identity; the pangs of conscience of those who converted to their spouse’sfaith for the sake of their children; and the efforts deployed by prelates on both sides toreclaim souls for their flock through the stage, the pulpit, or the book. Sacred Boundaries draws several conclusions: first, the state succeeded in forging asense of identity that was distinct from the Church by rising over religious differences;second, there was a gradual internalization of religious experience over the course of theseventeenth century as the notion of the inviolability of individuals’ consciences emerged.The most srcinal contribution of this book, however, is the argument that the eventualemergence of recognizable confessional blocs was facilitated by the state’s policy of co-existence. The idea of a negotiated boundary presupposed the kind of hard boundarywhich in the long run won out over the blurred boundary governing everyday experiencesof coexistence. In the end, the Edict of Nantes was the instrument of its own demise, as itsenforcement favoured hard and fast boundaries between Catholics and Protestantswhich, in turn, eased the way for re-catholicization and the eventual revocation of the Edict in 1685. This book has its place in a growing and important debate in Reformationhistoriography about the relevance of ‘confession’ as a meaningful or explanatory conceptbefore 1700 and the contingent process of ‘confessionalization’. It seems that confession isa term arbitrarily applied by historians to hide a multiplicity of contemporary practises,revealing an anxiety that was shared, Luria tells us, by seventeenth-century ecclesiasticalelites and the state. LUCRACAUT , Newcastle University John Martin, Myths of Renaissance Individualism , Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke,2004; 200 pp.; 0333643089, £47 (hbk)John Martin’s slim volume cuts a wide swathe through the contested historiography of Renaissance individualism. Martin takes aim not only at the venerable Jacob Burckhardt,but also at Burckhardt’s postmodern critics, and in so doing provides a compelling revi-sion of the scholarship on selfhood in early modern Europe. Whereas Burckhardt saw theRenaissance model of the self as providing heightened possibilities for personal freedomand individual expression, a more recent generation of critics has attacked Burckhardt’shumanism for manifesting a naive faith in the autonomy of the subject and has empha-sized, in contrast, how such a malleable self could be more easily shaped according to thedisciplinary ambitions of church and state. Perhaps the most prominent among these  European History Quarterly , .  at Univ of Newcastle upon Tyne on October 4, 2010ehq.sagepub.comDownloaded from 
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