Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Review, Age of Enlightenment, Religion


Originating with a 2002 international conference given by the German Historical Institute London, this fine collection of essays edited by Michael Schaich seeks to challenge and complicate an enduring master narrative about the eighteenth century "as a period of desacralization of monarchy". Schaich states in his introduction that Monarchy and Religion is not a "revisionist" attempt to suggest that religion remained the only or even the main source of monarchy's power and influence in the eighteenth century. Rather, Schaich excellently delineates gaps that have existed for far too long in the portrayal of the European monarchy. He argues in his introduction, as does J. C. D. Clark in his opening historiographical essay, that up until the 1980s, the connection between religion and monarchy was widely considered a nonissue based on influential nineteenth-century assumptions rather than on any careful and wide-ranging study of the historical record. Too often, even when historians have looked at that record, they have confined themselves to the French and British monarchies. These essays, however, are notable both for their detailed Scholarly approach and for their scope, which includes the Russian and a number of German-speaking monarchies.