Name: Blaise Pascal; "Lettres a un Provincial", "Pensées"

Date:  1500 - 1799

Location:  Europe

SubjectPolitical/Economic/Social Opinion , Religious


Artist: Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)

Confronting Bodies: King Louis XIV

Date of Action: 1657

Specific Location: France

Description of Artwork: "Lettres a un Provincial", 1656-1657: written in defense of Antoine Arnauld an opponent of the Jesuits and defender of Jansenism who was on trial before the faculty of theology in Paris. Pascal's 18 letters dealt with divine grace and the ethical code of the Jesuit. They included a blow against the relaxed morality that the Jesuits were said to teach and that was the weak point in their controversy with Port-Royals. "Pensees," 1670: work of Christian apologetics as a consequence of his meditations on miracles and other proofs of Christianity. The work remained unfinished at his death.

Description of Incident: 1657 France: "Lettres a un Provincial" burned for being too free with the dignity of all secular authorities. 1660: Pascal converted to Jansenist teaching and his "Lettres a un Provincial" aroused a storm of controversy because of their anti-Jesuit flavor.

Results of Incident: 1660, France: Louis XIV ordered that the book "Lettres a un Provincial" "be torn up and burned at the "Croix du Tiroir" at the hands of the High Executioner, fulfillment of which is to be certified to his Majesty within the week; and that meanwhile all printers, booksellers, vendors and others, of whatever rank or station, are explicitly prohibited from printing, selling, and distributing, and even from having in their possession the said book... under pain of public (exemplary) punishment." 1789 Rome, Italy: "Pensee" placed on the Index "avec les notes de M.Voltaire."

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.

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