An Irish Missionary in France, Thomas Gould (1657-1734), Irish Migrant, Catholic priest and Missionnaire du Roi
Molloy, Stuart Andrew (2011) An Irish Missionary in France, Thomas Gould (1657-1734), Irish Migrant, Catholic priest and Missionnaire du Roi. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
Thomas Gould (1657-1734) was a native of Cork who achieved an impressive, although not unusual level of success as an Irish man in the employ of the French state and Catholic Church during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth-centuries in France. As well as being an Irish migrant on the Continent, Gould was an ecclesiastic, a Catholic missionary and religious polemical writer, and above all as this study will highlight, an agent of the Bourbon monarchy, a uniquely titled Missionnaire du Roi. Leaving his bridled Catholic life in Ireland Gould became involved and indeed achieved a high level of renown in the proscription of the religious lives of Protestants in Bourbon France. His missionary activities to the Protestants in Poitou formed part of the French state’s final attempt to impose religious unity upon its religious dissenting community, the Huguenots. The hermeneutical merit in focusing on Gould in this period is evident in the dynamism of his life, the study of which allows one to weave together the many differing contextual fabrics of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries that constituted the many backdrops to Gould’s activities in Poitou. Centrally placed as he was in Poitou at the vanguard of the Bourbon state’s advance against the Huguenots, Gould provides an insight, not just into the complex workings of the relationship that existed between the Bourbon monarchy and its ecclesiastical allies, the Catholic Church, but more importantly, and that which forms the central thesis of this study, how both institutions attempted to subdue and convert its Protestant Huguenot community to Catholicism.
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