Saint-Evremond and the Decline of Fideism

  • C. J. Betts
Part of the Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 104)


The transition from libertinage, which may be described as free-thought in the fideist tradition, to early deism, which is free-thought of the rationalist variety, is too complex a development to be studied in the work of any one writer. It took some time to complete, and individuals seem to have remained true either to reason or to faith. But the first part of the process, a gradual detachment from faith, is exemplified in the writings, over many years, of the exiled moralist Charles de Saint-Denis de Saint-Evremond. He was, according to the standard evaluation, the most elegant of the libertin writers, a link between Montaigne and Voltaire. His life (1614–1703)l would have been conventional for a cultured French nobleman — a soldiering youth, the Fronde (more or less on the Court side), and an old age spent in literary dilettantism and salon intrigue — except that his satirical habits kept getting him into trouble. He was in the Bastille in the 1650s for impertinences at the expense of Mazarin. After the disgrace of Fouquet, in 1661, he had to leave France because his Lettre sur la paix des Pyrénées, full of ironic and trenchant criticisms of Mazarin’s conduct of the peace negotiations in 1659, was found among Fouquet’s papers. From then on Saint-Evremond ived in exile, three years in England, five in Holland, and the remainder again in England, in the society of the Court and Hortense Mancini, the Duchesse Mazarin.


Christian Faith Peace Negotiation Christian Morality Religious Topic Usual Reputation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Saint-Evremond, Oeuvres en prose, edited by Rene Ternois, (Paris, 1962—1969).Google Scholar
  2. Saint-Evremond, Oeuvres melees, edited by Luigi de Nardis (Rome, 1966).Google Scholar
  3. D.C. Potts, ’Desmaizeaux and Saint-Evremond’s Text’, French Studies 19 (1965), 239 - 252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gustave Cohen, ‘Le sejour de Saint-Evremond en Hollande (1665–1670)’Google Scholar
  5. G. Cohen, ’Le sejour de Saint-Evremond en Hollande’, II, RLC 6 (1926), 28 – 78Google Scholar
  6. Anne Hervart, 1926 in Lettres, Ternois edition, Vol. I, Ls. 36–49Google Scholar
  7. R.H. M. Elwes, The Chief Works of Benedict de Spinoza (London, 1883)Google Scholar
  8. Antoine Adam, Histoire de la litterature franqaise au xvhe siecle, 5 vols. (Paris, 1949–1956), Vol. V, pp. 204–205Google Scholar
  9. Jean Calvet, La litterature religieuse de Francois de Sales a Fenelon (Paris, 1956), p. 431.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. J. Betts

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations