November 7, 10, 1793: Dechristianizing

  • Paul H. Beik
Part of the The Documentary History of Western Civilization book series (DHWC)


The phenomenon of dechristianization, which had its most noticeable manifestations in the Festival of Reason in the Cathedral of NotreDame on 20 Brumaire, An II (November 10, 1793), and in the behavior of many former clergy, as shown in the document which follows, has psychological, social, and political aspects that make it far more complicated than it appears to be at first glance. The subject of religion and the revolution viewed broadly involves much more than what happened to the Church as an institution during this period, or even the balance sheet containing the contributions of the clergy and Catholics generally to the revolution and the steps by which the Church and many clergy came to be counterrevolutionary; there is also the question to what extent and in what manner revolutionaries became anticlerical, anti-Christian, or antireligious, and there is even the question of whether the revolutionary movement was itself a religious phenomenon. Behind such words as “reason” and “patrie,” sentiments of revolutionary or religious enthusiasm are not easy to define or to distinguish from each other, particularly when one thinks of social gradations and the influences of different life experiences on consciousness. There is also the matter of political manipulation to consider. These complexities do not detract from the importance of the behavior of the Convention in November, 1793; rather, they heighten the interest of such documents as the Procès-verbal de la Convention nationale. Imprimé par son ordre. Vol. XXV (Paris, An II), of which pp. 47–50 and 128–131 have been translated below.


Balance Sheet Political Aspect National Convention Revolutionary Movement Religious Phenomenon 


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© Paul H. Beik 1970

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  • Paul H. Beik

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