chapter  3
36 Pages

Sites of Salvation: Acquiring Pardons at Home and Away

As observed above, from the 1970s onwards historians of early modern culture such as Peter Burke proposed that there was an increasing gap between elite and popular religion, between a largely literate and urban upper social group and one that was unlettered and frequently rural.1 e Reformation was seen as an important part of this process of acculturation, whereby clerical and lay elites imposed new patterns of piety and morality on lower social groups. Jean Delumeau argued that Catholics and Protestants alike aimed to ‘Christianize’ a religion that was still pagan in some of its precepts and practices.2 For France, Robert Muchembled argued that popular culture and belief was ‘reformed’ through Counter-Reformation attempts to eliminate ‘superstition’, to di erentiate the sacred and profane and to subject the lives of Catholics to closer pastoral supervision. is produced ‘better’ Christians, but also a more individualist religion based on fear, obedience and control from above.3 Philip Ho man has supported this view, stating that the period witnessed ‘the reshaping of popular culture and the dissemination of a new ethic in the parishes’.4 Reforms of the priesthood to sanctify the order, to

separate them from the laity and to enhance their pastoral role; restrictions on saints’ cults; control of parish life and confraternities; puritanism in morality and dress codes; self-discipline and social activism, were disseminated downwards, to ‘improve’ the behaviour of common folk.5