Of Welsh parentage, Dr. Iorwerth Prothero earned his first degree at the University of Manchester and then his doctorate at King's College, Cambridge. Since 1964, he has taught modern history at Manchester. His research and publications have been on labour movements and radicalism in Britain and France, latterly with more emphasis on popular culture and religion.2005 0-7734-6221-X
This is the first recent study, and the only one in English, of a little known movement of dissident priests that arose in the wake of the 1830 Revolution in France. Under the leadership of the Abbé Chatel, they broke away from the Church of Rome to establish a new French Catholic Church appropriate to the new liberal regime of the July Monarchy. Seeking to reconcile Catholicism with liberalism, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, they renounced the authority of the Pope and the bishops, used French instead of Latin in services, and gave up celibacy of priests, Confession, fasting and church fees. They received a welcome in a number of parishes, where their installation in the parish church sometimes led to violent clashes with the forces of order. Although Chatel's movement was supported by many of the new local authorities, the government was much less favourable. The book thus rediscovers a movement that posed serious challenges to the bishops and the government, and illustrates the weakness of the Roman Catholic Church in France in the aftennath of the French Revolution. It further reveals the extent of dissident Catholicism, within and without the Church of Rome. The study also demonstrates the nature and reality of popular religion, which often differed in profound ways from the religion of elites. Allowed much freedom at first, and increasingly receiving support and encouragement from the political opposition, including republicans, Chatel's movement met greater government hostility in the later 1830s, when some of its churches were closed down, a process completed in 1842. The movement thus exposes the fluctuating politics of the July Monarchy, and the links between religion and radicalism. Chatel also moved further in his ideas into socialism and feminism, both of which had strong religious elements at this time. His movement also prepared the way, in the Paris Basin and the Limousin, for the only significant cases in nineteenth century France of Protestant expansion into Roman Catholic areas.