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Enlightening EnthusiasmProphecy and religious experience in early eighteenth-century England$
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Lionel Laborie

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089886

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089886.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2020

Going public

Going public

(p.121) 4 Going public
Enlightening Enthusiasm

Lionel Laborie

Manchester University Press

Chapter 4 explores the debate around enthusiasm in late Stuart England. After looking at the French Prophets’ millenarian assemblies, during which they performed Biblical allegories and miracles, it considers how enthusiasts and dissenters took advantage of the lapsing of the Licensing Act in 1695 to promote their beliefs. With their claims to divine inspirations and insight into the future, the French Prophets sparked a spectacular battle of pamphlets of at least 150 extant titles in just three years. This controversy contributed to the early Enlightenment debate on the nature of enthusiasm. It shows how beliefs in witchcraft and demonic possessions persisted beyond 1700 and how satire became a weapon against enthusiasts in general. The case of the French Prophets would later serve as a precedent against the Methodists in the mid eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Orality, Print, Literacy, Censorship, Theatre, Satire, Demonic possessions, Witchcraft, Miracles

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