Artist: Jules Michelet (1798 - 1874): French historian
Confronting Bodies: The Roman Church
Date of Action: 1839 - 1966
Specific Location: France
Description of Artwork: In many of Jules Michelet's journals and books he attacked the ethics of Christian doctrines and beliefs. In his book, "Du Pretre, de la femme, de la famille" (trans. "The Priesthood, Women, and the Family"), which was published in 1845, Michelet attacked the power of priesthood. In particular, Michelet asserts that priests with no personal experience of marriage presumed to tell women in particular how to act towards their husbands and family. Later in his life Michelet took particular aim at the Jesuit faith arguing that Jesuits were the enemies of liberty and enlightenment.
Description of Incident: His 1845 book that attacked the Roman Church was censored by the church who saw it as a threat. Believing the book compromised the church's position in society, the Roman Church promptly put the text on the "Index Librorum Prohibitorum". In 1848 Michelet was suspended from his teaching position at the College de France for his outspoken attacks against the Jesuit faith. Then, in 1849, he returned to his teaching position, however, French government agents posing as students attended his lectures and staged riots. Michelet was finally dismissed for good by Louis Napoleon in 1851.
Results of Incident: Michelet continued to write and express his views. In 1858 he wrote "L'Amour" (Love), in which he contrasted the love and morality which existed in ordinary families with their absence in the institutional Church. Despite the work being censored and placed on the "Index", it became extremely popular among the reading public. Before his death in 1874 Michelet wrote additional works all of which were placed on the "Index" until it was abolished in 1966.
Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.
Submitted By: NCAC