Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 3
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according to Calvin, glorified and justified sex outside of traditional marriage and engaged in
what they called "spiritual marriages" (Turner 78 and Calvin 279). Calvin dismisses these
marriages as sinful and accuses the libertines of allowing their libidos to guide them, "while
claiming to experience an ecstatic return to the paradisal state, where good and evil vanish and le
sens naturel takes over" (Turner 78 and Calvin 279-280).
During the Restoration in 1660, libertinism evolved into a more secular, social, and
political idea. When Charles II ascended the throne and restored the Stuart monarchy to
England, the definition of libertinism changed from an aberrant, deplorable, blasphemous sect of
Protestantism, to an anti-religious philosophy the king himself embraced. As a result, libertinism
in many ways became the cultural norm rather than a philosophical rebellion against the cultural
norm. Politically, England metamorphosed from a conservative republic ruled by a Lord
Protectorate that, among other things, banned the theater, to a more carefree monarchy ruled by a
king who qualified as a libertine. After his exile in France, Charles II, of course, brought a
French influence to libertinism and England in general. This influence resulted in a more
hedonistic, secular, and sexual form of libertinism and a royal court whose members included
many libertines. Libertinism, then, transformed from a term denoting a religious movement
within Protestantism to a secular philosophy that spurned social institutions, including religion,
and promoted sexual profligacy.
While self-defined Restoration and eighteenth-century libertines arguably let their libidos
dictate their lives, this modern libertine figure is not as clearly defined as the Protestant
Movement that preceded it in the 1500s. In fact, as Dale Underwood argues, "libertine" is not
"readily susceptible to precise definition" because "ideas of libertinism have commonly the
blurred and eclectic character of popular thought" (12). Turner writes that Restoration and
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/9/?q=rochester: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .