The author focuses most intently on the differences between the solemn religious procession, which was highly participatory and represented local concerns, and the more celebratory festival, which vaunted the monarchy and turned the people into passive spectators. He examines the theatrical nature of often hastily orchestrated religious parades winding through neighborhood streets, then considers the monarchy's use of plazas for staged entertainment, particularly for awe-inspiring displays of fireworks. Schneider argues that the festival proved a successful tool in imposing the symbols of the centralized state on Toulouse's public life, but that both the procession and the festival incorporated powerful ceremonial forms that proved politically useful for the Revolution.
After Christian armies defeated the Ottomans at Vienna in 1683, the Turks no longer seemed as threatening. Europeans increasingly understood that Turkish issues were also European issues, and the political absolutism of the sultan in Istanbul was relevant for thinking about politics in Europe, from the reign of Louis XIV to the age of Napoleon. While Christian European composers and publics recognized that Muslim Turks were, to some degree, different from themselves, this difference was sometimes seen as a matter of exotic costume and setting. The singing Turks of the stage expressed strong political perspectives and human emotions that European audiences could recognize as their own.