"The French Protestant Enlightenment of Rabaut Saint-Étienne: Le Vieux Cévenol and the Sentimental Origins of Religious Toleration," French History 32, Issue 1, (3 March 2018); 25–44.
- Abstract: Historians often refer to the period from the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) to Louis XVI’s Edict of Toleration (1787) as the Désert in French Calvinist history. As the name suggests, the French state outlawed Calvinists, forced them to clandestinely worship, and expelled many from the kingdom and empire altogether. In this article, I suggest that Calvinists played a role in the concurrent French Enlightenment despite their legal marginality. By examining the writings of Rabaut Saint-Étienne, a French Calvinist pastor and later leader of the National Assembly during the French Revolution, this article explores the underground French Protestant Enlightenment and the sentimental strain that ran through it. Calvinists such as Saint-Étienne informed Enlightenment debates over religious toleration and religious freedom with arguments that appealed not necessarily to public utility, reason, or even the letter of the law, but to natural rights and empathy.
The French Revolution and Religion in Global Perspective: Freedom and Faith. co-edited by Bryan A. Banks and Erica Johnson. New York. Palgrave MacMillan. October, 2017.
Chapter Contribution - “The Huguenot Diaspora and the Politics of Religion in Revolutionary France”
Abstract: The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes of 1685 expelled over 200,000 Huguenots from France, led to the persecution and forced conversion of many Calvinists who remained in the country, and sparked fierce debate over religious qualifications for subjecthood and citizenship. The result of this debate, over 100 years later was the French Revolution’s call for the return of the Huguenot population. The Constitution of 1791 granted citizenship to foreign-born Huguenots. Revolutionaries also passed measures to return lost ancestral lands to Huguenots as a form of reparations. Despite their efforts, few Huguenots returned to France. Their failed attempts to court Huguenots back to France reveal a previously missing element of the revolutionary definition of citizenship, one equally defined by the rejection of religious qualification and the history of religious persecution.
"Real and Imaginary Friends in Revolutionary France: Quakers, Political Culture, and the Atlantic World," Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 50, no. 4 (2017); 361-79.
- Abstract: In 1791, a group of French and American Quakers petitioned the French revolutionary government to grant the Protestant sect exemptions from taking up arms in defense of and swearing an oath to the nation. Their petition ultimately failed, but an analysis of this event reveals a simultaneous attraction to Quaker cosmopolitanism, egalitarianism, and friendship bolstered by the preceding Enlightenment as well as a rejection of religious privilege in pursuit of a limited citizenry. Such an account further complicates the teleological secular position given to the French Revolution.
"The Protestant Origins of the French Revolution: Contextualizing Edgar Quinet in the Historiography of the Revolution, 1789-1865," Journal of the Western Society for French History. vol. 42, 2014. [See also post on the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog]
- Abstract: The republican, French intellectual and historian, Edgar Quinet, published his two-volume La Révolution in 1865. In it, he explained the failure of the First French Republic as an historical inevitability, given that the French Reformation had failed to teach the French the joys of freedom of conscience. Blinded by Catholicism, the French, again, could not sustain the successes of a political revolution in 1789 without first experiencing a successful religious revolution. Yet, Quinet's argument owed much to a generation's worth of debate over the links between the Reformation and the Revolution. Many Catholics had cut their counter-revolutionary teeth imagining complots and cultural connections between the Reformed and the revolutionary. In the Napoleonic period, others like Charles de Villers began to craft grand historical narratives linking Luther to Abbeé Sieyes. By placing Quinet in the longue durée, it is possible to examine how French republicanism emerged out of a period still rife with religious factionalism. In it, some, like Quinet, imagined a version of French republicanism linked to Reformed Christianity, rather than wholly laïcized.