chapter  9
THE PARTI JANSENISTE IN THE 1720s AND 1730s
Pages 27

Early modern politics is full of reports of cabals and conspiracies, and it was once widely believed that the Revolution itself was caused by a masonic plot. Conspiracy theories are not usually regarded as a convincing form of explanation in history, and have often been dismissed by modern historians, more or less on principle. It is therefore fascinating to examine more closely one group whose activities might indeed be characterised as conspiratorial, and thereby gain deeper insight into political conduct. If the practices revealed could hardly be credited with singlehandedly causing the Revolution, their prevalence and effects do help us to understand why it was that contemporaries were so willling to lend credence to such theories.