A Lust for Virtue: Louis XIV's Attack on Sin in Seventeenth-Century France

Synopsis

Midway through his reign, in the critical decade of the 1680s, the lusty image of Louis XIV paled and was replaced by that of a straitlaced monarch committed to locking up blasphemers, debtors, gamblers, and prostitutes in wretched, foul-smelling prisons that dispensed ample doses of Catholic-Reformation virtue. The author demonstrates how this attack on sin expressed the punitive social policy of the French Catholic Reformation and how Louis's actions clarified the legal and moral distinctions between crime and sin.