The Politics of Religion in Early Modern France 9780300210460

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Table of contents :
Contents
Preface
Introduction
CHAPTER ONE: The Religion of King and Kingdom
CHAPTER TWO: Disputes and Settlements
CHAPTER THREE: Gallican Stirs
CHAPTER FOUR: The Dévot Impulse
CHAPTER FIVE: The Richelieu Effect
CHAPTER SIX: The Fiscal Nexus and its Ramifications
CHAPTER SEVEN: Obedient Rebels? The Protestants from Nantes to Nîmes
CHAPTER EIGHT: Jansenist Dilemmas
CHAPTER NINE: A New Gallican Age?
CHAPTER TEN: A Huguenot Half- century
CHAPTER ELEVEN: To Fontainebleau and Beyond
CHAPTER TWELVE: Enemies Within?
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
INDEX
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THE POLITICS OF RELIGION IN EARLY MODERN FRANCE

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THE POLITICS OF RELIGION IN EARLY MODERN FRANCE



J O S E P H B E RG I N

YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS NEW HAVEN AND LONDON

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Copyright © 2014 Joseph Bergin All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publishers. For information about this and other Yale University Press publications, please contact: U.S. Office: [email protected] www.yalebooks.com Europe Office: [email protected] www.yalebooks.co.uk Typeset in Minion Pro by IDSUK (DataConnection) Ltd Printed in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Bergin, Joseph, 1948 The politics of religion in early modern France/Joseph Bergin. pages cm Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-300-20769-9 (cloth: alkaline paper) 1. Church and state—France—History—17th century. 2. Christianity and politics— France—History—17th century. 3. Catholic Church—France—History—17th century. 4. Protestantism—France—History—17th century. 5. France—Politics and government— 17th century. 6. France—Religion. 7. France—Church history—17th century. I. Title. BR845.B4337 2014 322'.1094409032—dc23 2014014242 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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In memory of Bridget (1913–91) and Cornelius (1914–96) Bergin

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Contents

Preface

ix

Introduction

1

1 The Religion of King and Kingdom

17

2 Disputes and Settlements

43

3 Gallican Stirs

64

4 The Dévot Impulse

86

5 The Richelieu Effect

112

6 The Fiscal Nexus and its Ramifications

133

7 Obedient Rebels? The Protestants from Nantes to Nîmes

156

8 Jansenist Dilemmas

181

9 A New Gallican Age?

206

10 A Huguenot Half-century

227

11 To Fontainebleau and Beyond

252

12 Enemies Within?

277

Conclusion

299

Notes

308

Bibliography

351

Index

369

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Nos rois . . . n’ayant pu ce qu’ils voulaient, ils ont fait semblant de vouloir ce qu’ils pouvaient (montaigne) Unable to do what they wished, our kings pretended that what they could do was what they wished

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Preface

O

ne way to describe this book might be that it is ‘history with the politics put back in’, as Patrick Collinson wittily put it a generation ago, although in the present case, the context and objectives are somewhat different from his. Having published a few years ago a book entitled Church, society and religious change in France 1580–1730, that largely left out the politics, on the essentially pragmatic grounds of the need to produce something that was both coherent and manageable in scale, it was obvious that a socio-cultural history of religion inevitably ignored several important aspects of the subject for the period with which that book dealt. What follows is an attempt to make up for that deficit by exploring the multiple relations between politics and religion during a broadly identical period of early modern history. The terms of this book’s title have been chosen with a view to avoiding, as far as possible, misconceptions or disappointment on the part of its readers. It attempts to delineate the shifting relations between political power and religious affiliation in an age when the long-familiar landscape was severely altered by the Protestant Reformations and their consequences. Many of the unresolved conflicts around religious questions during the seventeenth century were inherited from the sixteenth, but the new century also rose to the challenge of developing some of its own. The alternative title of ‘politics and religion’ seemed both too vague and too vast, likely to produce an essentially chronological political narrative. The following pages will attempt to combine the history of ideas and ‘political’ history, broadly speaking, with the underlying intention of anchoring the ideas in question in the political praxis as exemplified by the gallery of actors that will figure therein. Among other things, it seeks to show that at a time when the French monarchy was increasingly detaching itself, in theory at least, from anything that would subordinate royal authority to purely human controls, the process of borrowing political ideas from theology, in the broad sense, continued to be necessary. But

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borrowing from an often unwilling or uncomprehending lender is likely to produce misunderstanding and recrimination, as the different parties try to protect what belongs to them. As in previous centuries, debates on the nature of the church and its authority structure – questions which formed the subdiscipline of theology known as ecclesiology – had immediate implications, as contemporaries were quick to notice, for political power. In her study of the gradual unfolding of ideas of absolute power in sixteenth-century France, Arlette Jouanna warned against seeing it as a normal, predetermined evolution of the French monarchy, and identified the religious division as the decisive factor in its uncertain history. Other, even more short-term historical events, such as the successive assassinations of Henri III and Henri IV, also acted as effective accelerators of that development. But the logic of ideas did not always work as we might expect. The adoption of the discourse of absolute obedience to royal authority by France’s Protestants before and especially after the 1620s did not bring the dividends that they hoped, even if it may have stayed the hand of persecution for longer than might otherwise have been the case; it certainly did not prevent their Catholic opponents from pinning the label of incorrigible ‘rebels’ on them, and declaring that their professed political beliefs were just a sham. This latter point is a reminder that the monarchy, even under Louis XIV, was constantly, and at various times unwisely, drawn into confrontations concerning religious and inter-confessional issues, and that it was not always the sovereign arbiter that its propagandists proclaimed it to be. And when serious religious controversies erupted, it was not always able to foresee or control their ramifications. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that by the end of the seventeenth century the urge to ensure a reduction à l’obéissance was reaching into spheres beyond the monarchy’s actual capacity, and reviving political impulses that it would have preferred to see dead and buried. The encounter between politics and religion did not take place purely in learned treatises or pamphlets. It would be absurd to imagine, for example, that the Jansenist movement that developed in France after 1640 was derived from or traceable to one of the most arduous theological treatises of its day, Cornelius Jansen’s Augustinus; it would be no less misguided to believe that once it got going, it became a sort of fixed essence which did not vary thereafter. This is why the following pages try to connect the analysis of the movement of ideas to real-life politics in which churches, the papacy, law courts, universities, clerical assemblies, religious factions or ginger groups were active. It is also the ultimate justification for the book’s title – the politics of religion. Although what follows is an exploration of the politics–religion articulation within a single state, it cannot be satisfactorily or straightforwardly

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PREFACE

xi

presented in the single narrative structure that is familiar in political history. Such a straitjacket would foreshorten or exclude the analysis of particular developments – often intellectual – whose significance was long term (but whose presence might be episodic). For this reason, the book may be regarded as a set of connected essays of a thematic kind. This has inevitably led to perhaps more repetition and overlap in the pages that follow than is desirable, but it is primarily intended to assist readers to find (or re-find) their bearings. At the same time, it is a useful reminder of the persistence and continuity of certain themes or problems within the politics of religion of the period. Thus, depending on the theme under discussion, individual chapters briefly anticipate discussions to come in later chapters or reach backwards to take a look, from a different angle, at issues that may already be familiar from earlier chapters. It is hoped that such an approach will, cumulatively, generate a sense of how connected the different and sometimes elusive questions discussed in these pages actually are. Although the objective is not comprehensiveness in itself, it should be clear by the time the book concludes in (literally) the last days of Louis XIV’s reign how much the politico-religious landscape had altered since the later sixteenth century where it begins. The debts accumulated while writing this book are far too numerous to itemise here, as they go back many years and apply to earlier researches. I beg the indulgence of the many if I mention only a few here. Thanks to Nicole Reinhardt, I benefited from a short but enjoyable stay at the Max Weber Kolleg at Erfurt. That was followed by a full academic year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Nantes. Both institutions, as well as their staff and resident researchers, provided ideal conditions to write this book, which was completed in Nantes. I am particularly grateful to Robin Briggs, Dermot Fenlon and Nicole Reinhardt, who took the trouble to read the ensuing manuscript and provided me with challenging comments and suggestions for improvement. I am only too conscious of the imperfections and mistakes that remain, for which I claim exclusive responsibility. Almost thirty years ago, I dedicated my first book to my parents for the sacrifices they made to enable me to receive an education. Now, in the year in which they would have become centenarians, I am more conscious than ever of the good fortune that was mine. This book is dedicated to their memory.

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Introduction

I

F

or much of the ‘long’ 1680s, which coincided roughly with the reign of Pope Innocent XI (1676–89), the French monarchy and the papacy were in open conflict. The clash itself was originally sparked by a royal edict of 1673 extending for the first time to the dioceses of southern France: the régale, which consisted of certain financial and patronage rights, temporal and spiritual, that escheated to the crown during episcopal vacancies. It appeared to most observers, leading figures within the French church included, that the edict was not worth fighting over; it was a matter of Louis XIV rationalising his prerogatives within the boundaries of his kingdom. Consequently, only two of the fifty-nine southern bishops affected by the new measure protested against it. But when the two persisted and appealed in 1677 to Pope Innocent XI, tensions between Rome and the French escalated; they led, among other things, to the famous declaration of the four gallican articles of 1682 by a specially convened assembly of clergy. That in turn was followed by the cessation, until 1692, of all confirmations by the papacy of incoming French bishops, as well as a pre-emptive French appeal of 1688 to a future general council of the church against any potential papal censure of Louis XIV. It took Innocent XI’s death, in 1689, and the quick succession of two popes to open the door to negotiation and eventual reconciliation between France and Rome during 1692–93.1 This ‘gallican’ crisis, by far the most severe and most famous of the seventeenth century, seemed at various points to be leading France into imitating Henry VIII of England’s break with Rome in 1534. Yet that did not happen. Despite the underlying danger and the long periods of posturing, ill-humour and stonewalling on both sides, as a result of which the French church was short of nearly forty bishops by early 1692, there was no inexorable logic of ideas at

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work during the crisis. It is, in fact, worth briefly enumerating the many possible moves or gestures that were not made during that decade of confrontation. Firstly and crucially, the papacy abstained from formally censuring the declaration of 1682, which it must have been sorely tempted to do, given that it was a zealous assembly of clergy, rather than the crown itself, which had taken the initiative in adopting the gallican articles in the name of the French church. Secondly, because the Pope refused to grant their bulls to two of the deputies to the 1682 assembly who were nominated to vacant bishoprics immediately after the assembly closed, it was the French government which decided not to put forward any royal nominees for papal approval so long as these two nominees were denied their episcopal confirmation by Rome. It was emphatically not the papacy that refused to confirm French episcopal nominations generally. On the contrary, Rome was quite keen to do just that, as success would have wrecked the French boycott, but the French crown deterred any of its nominees from breaking ranks. As for the French appeal to a future general council of the church of 1688 – a spectacularly out-of-season gesture that recalled the ‘withdrawal of obedience’ tactics employed by the monarchy against the papacy during and after another major crisis, that of the great schism (1378–1418) – it was fraught with unseen dangers. Unlike previous appeals of its kind, that of 1688 was kept rather low-key and quickly faded into obscurity.2 Contrary to yet another tenacious legend, there was no secret excommunication of Louis XIV and his ministers in 1687 by Innocent XI, who had every reason to avoid such a perilous and provocative move. Instead, he merely informed the king that he had incurred the automatic penalties (principally excommunication) contained in the annual ‘Good Friday’ papal bull, the notorious In Coena Domini, which was directed against those, rulers in particular, who infringed the ‘liberties of the church’. But Innocent XI knew full well that this bull, to which virtually all Catholic rulers of the time vehemently objected, was not ‘received’ in France and, therefore, that the effect of its censures on the king would be entirely non-existent.3 Finally, towards the end of the negotiations to terminate the stand-off in late 1693, Louis XIV made a more unexpected offer to the Pope. Having already mollified Rome by agreeing not to enforce the four gallican articles of 1682 as the official teaching of the French church, he offered to abandon outright his claim to exercise the régale as a crown right, if the Pope would grant it to him by a special indult. He repeated this offer several times over the following years, but each time Innocent XII declined to enter negotiations. It was not the first time that early modern conflicts of this kind petered out without a clear resolution, leaving the participants free to keep their powder at least half-dry for future skirmishes.4 We shall return later in more detail to this especially heated moment in the tripartite relations between monarchy, church and papacy, but it is worth

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INTRODUCTION

3

emphasising here how naïve it would be to imagine that the many connections between religion and politics in early modern France could be fully grasped on a first reading, even of events as well known as those of the 1680s. In the case just outlined, a much broader analysis of the various dramatis personae, but also – and especially – of the ideas and interests that lay behind the dispute, is required for such a full understanding. In addition, the references made above to the right of régale, the ‘great schism’, the appeal to a future general council of the church, or the bull In Coena Domini, all need historical exegesis before they begin to be comprehensible to the average reader. Beyond that, it would be even more naïve to imagine that the ‘religion-and-politics’ nexus that will be studied in this book was limited to issues or confrontations of this particular type. After all, this was a classic dispute between the monarchy and the papacy, with precedents going back over several centuries, although it had its own particular resonances. Not unusually, such disputes frequently helped to spark off other actions that had not been envisaged at the outset. Thus it was in late 1685, during this dispute with Rome, that Louis XIV took another momentous decision: finally to revoke the Edict of Nantes of 1598 which had enabled Protestants to live and worship under the protection of the law within France. Whatever the principal motives for this decision were, it was certainly hoped that it would persuade the papacy to soften its stance on the régale affair, but that confident expectation was also to be dashed by an unimpressed Innocent XI. These, and many other scenarios involving different parties and issues familiar to the trio of church, state and papacy that we have just observed, will appear in the pages that follow. A study of them should provide a broad basis for an understanding of the kinds of problem that aroused contemporary passions, as well as of the ways in which they were articulated and handled. Many of them were accompanied by public controversy, increasingly in print and in the vernacular, which in turn helped to move the goalposts with regard to the relations between politics and religion. As a result, the ‘landscape’ with which we shall be dealing was one in which perceptions and priorities shifted with the passage of time, so that a debate or conflict arising around 1700 could have a different significance to a similar-looking one arising a century or more earlier. By the same token, changes of alignment – sometimes purely tactical and short-lived – among the different parties involved would ensure that the meaning of certain positions or conflicts would also vary across time. As we have already noted, an awareness, however skewed, of certain historical events that were still considered to be of contemporary relevance could quickly surface in the course of a conflict and shape the way in which positions were defined. This was no less true of France than of Rome, insofar as gallican positions – and indeed French political thinking generally – depended heavily

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on the flying buttresses of historical precedent for documentation and argument. The historian’s perennial problem of how to deal with sameness and difference, and how to give due attention to each of them, is particularly acute whenever such historical awareness among the participants is itself an element in the situation to be explored. II The preceding discussion suggests that in order to understand the French ‘ways of proceeding’ where the relations of religion and politics, church and state, monarchy and gallican church during the post-Reformation are concerned, an excursion, however brief, into the historical past is indispensable. No more than a limited number of points can be raised in this introductory vade mecum to the chapters that follow. It is widely accepted that during the two centuries or so before the Protestant Reformation both the French monarchy and the church were increasingly characterised by a powerful sense of their distinctiveness and autonomy – the monarchy in relation to the Holy Roman Empire, and both the monarchy and the French church in relation to the papacy and its claims to enjoy temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction within Christendom. Equally, the French church and monarchy were depicted as intimately connected – as befitted the constituent parts of something unique and mystical that transcended the relations between more ‘ordinary’ institutions. Much has been written about the emergence of France as a ‘holy land’ and the elements of ‘invention’ that went into making such a precocious sense of historical identity or self-image, one which was initially (and for a long time) confined to the political and ecclesiastical elites. A large corpus of ‘historical’ writing, both local and national, ecclesiastical and secular, played an important part in this cumulative process, with the result that early modern French political thinking in the broadest sense remained for long heavily freighted with historical argument and illustration, as it constantly ransacked both the ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’ materials for evidence to support its claims. Histories of local saints, essentially as the holy founders of churches, dioceses and other monumental sites abounded, and were still being written well into the seventeenth century. This kind of ‘sacred’ history, which culminated in the massive Gallia christiana project of the mid-seventeenth century, was practised in many other parts of Europe. In France, however, there was a much stronger agenda accompanying it, one which involved church and monarchy, both of which promoted these histories as the basis of a particular concept of France and its origins – and, therefore, of its ‘special’ political and religious status.5 The community of interest between monarchy and church was so powerful that Joseph Strayer could argue that by the later Middle Ages

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5

it enabled the French ‘to avoid, to a very large degree, any feeling of contradiction between their duties to the church and their duties to the state’.6 From the early fourteenth century onwards, ‘proving’ that France had historical origins that owed little or nothing to imperial Rome became increasingly prominent in political and historical writing. This explains, to take one example from many, the recourse in the fifteenth century to the myth of the French as descendants of, successively, the Trojans, the Gauls and the sons of Noah. Such a genealogy of the French nation served the purpose of asserting independence from Rome – especially from imperial Rome, because of the claims of the Holy Roman Empire to be heir to Rome’s higher authority. The choice of ‘national’ saints such as Clovis, St Louis and St Michel was designed to enhance the monarchy and the unity of the nation, and especially to buttress the thesis that the king of France was ‘emperor in his own realm’ and not subject to any temporal power.7 This in turn had implications that were far wider than ‘temporal’ in nature, since ‘history’ showed that such imperial equivalence entitled the monarchy to exercise certain powers in relation to the church; by the sixteenth century it would lead to controversy over whether the church was ‘in the republic’ or vice versa. Meanwhile, there was another declared heir to the Roman Empire – the papacy; dealing with its claims involved the French church as much as the monarchy. Hence, to take another example, the need to distinguish France from kingdoms like Sicily or even England, which were considered inferior precisely because, in the view of French writers, their princes owed their title to rule to papal investiture in earlier centuries.8 Alongside the efforts of theologians and increasingly of lawyers (canon as well as civil), this kind of writing was essential to affirming and protecting what became known as the gallican liberties, which were conceived as an essential element of France’s patrimony and which belonged equally to the monarchy and the church. The inconvenient fact that this early growth of France’s gallican sense of identity itself owed no small debt to the support of the papacy during its struggle with the Holy Roman Empire during the central Middle Ages was much less easy to acknowledge in subsequent centuries; such reminders were usually brushed off as a matter of the papacy acknowledging pre-existing gallican circumstances rather than something to which the popes of the day contributed. Yet French kings acquired the title of ‘most christian king’ and ‘the eldest son of the church’ from the papacy, which also acknowledged their subjects as the most Catholic of all Christendom. This latter assertion was elaborated and broadcast via numerous literary genres and media, and was particularly evident in the widespread recourse to the phrase of St Jerome, ‘Gaul alone has no monsters’ (i.e. only France knows no heresy). These words became an endlessly quoted mantra, and never more so than during the decades immediately before the wars of religion which would so dramatically disprove them.9

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It would be mistaken to conclude from this that the French people, or nation, were somehow placed on a par with the monarchy or the gallican church in contemporary thinking. Leaving aside altogether the problem of what the terms ‘nation’ or ‘France’ might have meant at that point, it was the monarchy which, over time, increasingly appropriated for itself most of the religious attributes – and benefits – of this fidelity to, and zeal for, the true religion.10 Such accumulation was itself an essential part of the much longer process of the fashioning of what has often been called a religion royale that was still visible in the seventeenth century. Its most obvious elements – the coronation ceremony at Reims, the ‘royal touch’ which healed those suffering from the ‘king’s evil’ (scrofula), the elaborate ‘liturgies’ enveloping key moments of the king’s existence, the iconographic representation of the king as either a priest or a Christ-like figure and, not least, his elaborate funeral ritual – have all been extensively examined by historians.11 For most of the time, this steady accretion of attributes paid substantial dividends, as it rendered the king of France a quasi-sacerdotal figure, with all the symbolic and even practical political capital that it generated; because of its connections to the cult of the saints, this kind of monarchy was projected more widely, and more effectively, by its liturgico-religious forms than by the medium of the written or published word.12 But in times of acute crisis, and most of all during the wars of religion, the monarchy’s sudden inability to live up to its obligations to protect the true religion produced severe problems, leading to the alienation and even outright hostility of many of its subjects. Its traditions scarcely prepared it for the enduring confessional division of the kind experienced in the sixteenth century, yet it managed to invent solutions to this which went much further than anything attempted elsewhere in Europe. III The real partner of the monarchy in the age before religious division was not so much the nation (for all its supposed virtues) as the gallican church. With it, we encounter perhaps the most slippery word of this entire study. The meaning of the term ‘gallican’ – which, as we shall see later, ought not to be confined solely to the church – is by no means straightforward, regardless of whether it is used as an adjective or a noun. It was certainly never as fixed as the later, nineteenth-century substantive ‘gallican-ism’ would lead us to believe. In most of the historical contexts with which we shall be concerned, ‘gallicanism’ suggests something that is over-defined when in reality it was highly elusive.13 It was more than the sum of the respective rights and responsibilities of the French crown and the church in France. Along the broad spectrum of ideas, practices and images associated with gallican thinking there were varying

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degrees of precision and clarification, firstly in the work of the theologians concerned with defining what was meant by the term ‘church’ (ecclesiology) and, later, in that of the lawyers and jurists who were crucial in giving wider ‘real-world’ substance to gallican aspirations. Like so many other neologisms employed by historians, the term gallicanism still remains a convenient shorthand, dispensing with cumbersome or tedious circumlocution. As we have already seen, the sixteenth-century gallican mindset represented, before and beyond the specific rights or claims associated with the term, a common history with a powerful religious core to it. To some extent it filled the void left by the decline of the older concept of Christendom by the early sixteenth century. Alain Tallon has usefully suggested that because of the strong proto-national sentiments present in France by that juncture, the gallican church can be regarded as a ‘national’ church, but not a ‘state’ church. Certainly, its sixteenth-century defenders had no difficulty making such a distinction or repudiating the Anglican state–church on precisely such grounds.14 During the crisis of the great schism (1378–1418), leading figures in the French church had played a major part in developing a ‘conciliar’ vision of the church, which placed the authority of a general church council above that of the Pope, whose power was thereby limited. Such a restriction fitted well with the gallican conception of a universal church whose constituent parts – and especially France – enjoyed a considerable degree of self-rule. Thus, conventional gallicans viewed the French church as being in full communion with the Pope, in whom they recognised the successor of St Peter as head of the church, while denying him the primacy of jurisdiction and the personal infallibility that early modern popes, especially after the Council of Trent, would increasingly assert was theirs. Such a limitation of papal authority fitted into the idea of a gallican church which had enjoyed its ‘liberties’ since antiquity. Derived from its autonomous apostolic origins, those liberties made it largely self-governing and self-contained; it was not subject to direct papal jurisdiction, with the rights of intervention that that implied. In reality, these liberties had developed as an increasingly self-conscious reaction to the growth of papal power since the thirteenth century, while claiming to be much older than the papal power in question; ‘historical’ priority was creatively used here to trump emerging papal theory. Henceforth, the gallican liberties stood firmly in the way of France being subjected to an extension of papal control over the church, regardless of what happened in other parts of Europe. Moreover, while the plural form of the term – ‘liberties’ – and the shifting, often vague content of those liberties may have annoyed both outsiders and opponents, especially in Rome, these same attributes were no mean weapon of defence. Originating in the mists of time, like the gallican church itself, they seemed all the more authentic because they could not be

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clearly dated nor their content precisely pinned down, unlike well-documented papal concessions. In some cases, early church councils, such as Sardica (347), and their disputed canons were invaluable in reinforcing the gallican arsenal. For that reason, that arsenal continued to be ‘work in progress’ throughout the early modern period, requiring updating in order to defend a wide variety of causes. When the Dupuy brothers set about compiling their celebrated volume on the gallican liberties which appeared in 1639, they found relatively few reliable treatises antedating the mid-sixteenth century.15 The partnership of monarchy and gallican church was itself, needless to say, subject to gravity shifts and redefinition over time, and these were frequently the consequence of political events which need not be narrated here. From the conflict with Boniface VIII during Philip IV’s reign (1294– 1314) to the crisis of the great schism and beyond, it was increasingly the monarchy which took the initiative and steered the actions of church and clergy in ways that suited its interests; it found that national councils or assemblies of clergy could be helpful instruments during conflicts with the papacy or, as during the schism, a particular pope. Because the great schism lasted so long, and was much more than a simple clash of gallican and papal interests, it had a lasting impact on the gallican church. If the second of the 1682 gallican articles explicitly referred to the Council of Constance’s decree of 1417 concerning the ultimate superiority of general councils of the church over the Pope, and the need for the Pope to govern the church in collegial communion with bishops and local or national churches (like that of France), it was precisely because that view of the church’s ‘constitution’ had been fashioned during the schism and, specifically, during the general councils of Constance and Basle. At that point, the most vocal defenders of the tenets of ‘conciliarism’, as this enduring ecclesiological position is still called, were French churchmen like Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly and especially Jean Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris.16 It was no accident, as we shall see, that Gerson’s works were republished during the first major state-versus-papacy crisis of the seventeenth century, that of the Venetian Interdict of 1606. The 1688 appeal to a future general council mentioned above expressed a long tradition built upon historical precedents forgotten almost everywhere else in Europe. In the two intervening centuries the gallican traditions had been used – and sometimes abused – by both the monarchy and the gallican church in their successive quarrels with Rome. Until the upheavals of the mid-sixteenth century at least, gallicans tended to celebrate the harmony and equilibrium of church–monarchy relations in France. The wars of religion would change all that quite dramatically. Until then, the liberties were credited not just with protecting the autonomy of the French church and monarchy against unwarranted papal intervention, but

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also with preserving France in the integrity of the faith of the old church, just when it seemed that other parts of Europe were succumbing to Lutheran or other versions of schism and heresy. But this display of unanimity was not the full story. Gallican maxims were, as noted above, not solely ecclesiastical in character. There were ‘liberties’ which justified and delineated the quite distinctive rights of the king to intervene in the affairs of the French church itself. Another increasingly prominent strand of gallican thinking was still being developed by the secular courts and royal magistrates in opposition to the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction within France in relation to both clerics and laypeople; dislike of such jurisdiction was not confined to France and was commonplace across later medieval Europe, but the gallican idiom provided secular magistrates with powerful means to sharpen it.17 By the early seventeenth century, the French clergy were, if we can judge by the tone and range of their complaints to the assemblies of clergy, genuinely incensed by the ways magistrates were behaving in this domain. However, among the clergy themselves there were often sharp differences between bishops, cathedral chapters and religious orders on matters of jurisdiction and privilege – and, therefore, in their understanding of the ‘liberties’. The universities, and in particular the Paris theology faculty, developed and taught their own synthesis of gallican and conciliarist ideas which would prove increasingly influential during the seventeenth century when growing numbers of the clerical elite were taking theology rather than law degrees. It will be clear from this brief sketch that the ‘maxims of France’ were not a single, coherent ideology and, crucially, that some of their individual strands could end up in opposition to each other. For example, the incorporation of conciliarist ideas into French thinking, with their provision for a representative body placed above the Pope and for legitimate resistance to misrule, had potentially worrying implications for a monarchy keen to establish its divine-right foundations. But in the short term, these contradictions attracted little attention. Notorious for being ‘easy to invoke, but impossible to define’, the sheer range of accumulated gallican traditions was bound to continue influencing the relations of church and monarchy, regardless of whatever other changes might occur.18 The different parties could readily agree on what united them when it came to opposing the papacy or (decreasingly) the empire, but as ‘gallicanism’ began to acquire a more ‘systematic’ and codified format at the hands of both theologians and lawyers, that earlier unanimity was increasingly likely to crack open. The Concordat of Bologna, signed in 1516 between Leo X and François I, was a major example of this, and deserves brief comment here, since the fallout from it lasted for virtually a century. It had a prehistory, of course, during which the crown steadily extended its grip on church patronage at the expense

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of a weakened Renaissance papacy; but the concordat also enhanced royal patronage at the expense of cathedral chapters and monastic houses (especially abbeys) within France itself. At this date, the French monarchy proved far more successful in extending, and formalising, the kind of regalist claims to authority over the church that other European rulers were pursuing while never managing to clinch such a spectacular deal over them with the papacy. The 1516 concordat, which also spelt out in considerable detail the limitations on papal jurisdiction within France, may have created very little that was genuinely new, but it was its codified form – a deal cut between the king and the Pope at the expense of third parties – that was significant in revealing, in a highly public manner, the crown’s hard-headed ambition.19 Without ever admitting it openly, the monarchy had discovered that papal collaboration could be indispensable to furthering its ambitions at the expense of the other parties seated in the gallican tent. Not surprisingly, therefore, the response to the concordat from within France was largely hostile, in part perhaps because a recent, bad-tempered ‘conciliar’ conflict with the papacy (1509–12) had openly aired several familiar anti-papal, gallican themes, only for the king to put them back in the box and selfishly ditch the common cause in order, so it seemed, to further his own interests; from being the high protector of the gallican liberties, the king had become their principal beneficiary. Surprisingly perhaps, some of the heaviest criticism came from the magistrates in the Paris parlement, precisely because the concordat gave the king too much power within the church. In their view, the historical balance, the equilibrium of church–state–papacy relations, was seriously damaged by Bologna – and they vigorously protested for an unprecedented number of years against it. So too did sections of the French church, particularly the Paris theology faculty, which was unhappy with the patronage rights the French king now possessed of directly nominating for papal confirmation bishops and abbots within the church; his patronage rights within his kingdom exceeded those of the Pope within the papal states.20 Those critics who had long defended elections and self-government as key elements of the gallican tradition against comparable papal encroachment could hardly escape sensing that that, too, was being sacrificed behind their backs. IV In the short term, the French monarchy managed to brush aside these objections, but they did not disappear for all that. In normal times, they usually remained out of sight, but ready to resurface when conditions made that possible. Within a generation after Bologna, France’s Protestants would present themselves as the ultimate gallicans, ready to cut all ties to Rome and

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create an independent French church. Soon after that, the heated debate over whether to officially accept the Council of Trent’s decrees in France opened up an entirely new front on which to defend the gallican liberties. Other champs de bataille, as we shall see, would follow during the seventeenth century. All of these issues brought into play, to one degree or another, dramatis personae whom we have so far only fleetingly encountered, and who need to be briefly introduced here. The long-term origins of the conflict between Louis XIV and Innocent XI with which this chapter began lay in the part played by the parlements in formulating the juristic basis of rights belonging to the French crown. During the previous centuries, since at least the reign of Philip the Fair (1285–1314), the French royal jurists collectively labelled as the gens du roi (the king’s advocates, procurators and court recorders or greffiers) and based in the Paris parlement, had become the most active promoters of the crown’s prerogatives, religious and ecclesiastical as much as political, although they did not always persuade the parlement or the king officially to adopt their ideas. For example, it took the crown nearly seventy years to accept their arguments for extending the régale throughout the kingdom, but the régale was only one of many causes close to the parlement’s heart. Before that, the successive crises of the wars of religion forced them to rethink some of their key notions about royal power and religious unity, most of all when, after August 1589, the nominal king of France was a heretic; this acute succession crisis made it possible to reconceptualise the relationship between God, the king and his subjects in a way that would endure and expand during the following century. Some of the best-known parlementaires of the sixteenth century – Jean du Tillet, Étienne Pasquier, Pierre Pithou and Louis Servin – also rank among the most celebrated gallicans tout court, men whose works and ideas were frequently taken up by subsequent generations. The development of government by royal council(s) in the early modern period meant that the historic closeness of the Paris parlement to the king and its participation in decision-making was, for these historically minded writers, a thing of the past; this change gave the parlement a stronger incentive than previously to position itself as the zealous guardian of the crown’s rights, even to the extent of clashing with kings and ministers over them. Finally, despite the fact that some of their magistrates remained clerics throughout the early modern period, the parlements already had a well-documented antipathy towards church courts and ecclesiastical jurisdiction generally, whose workings they would continue to curtail during the last centuries of the ancien régime, especially by expanding the scope of appeals available against church jurisdiction. The French church frequently deplored the ease with which individuals could make such appeals to the royal courts (via the appel comme d’abus, as it was known), but its protests were

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severely weakened by the fact that many such appellants were themselves clerics. It will come as no surprise that the most committed defenders of the notion that the church was ‘in the republic’ were the parlements and, more generally, France’s jurists.21 By contrast, it would seem relatively easy to identify and present the ‘church’. But, as befits a concept elaborated and refined by generations of canonists and theologians, even that term has a range of meanings that need to be specified in order to avoid confusion or simplification in certain instances. Fundamentally, the term encapsulates the universal church conceived either as a body of believers (the preferred gallican view) or as a hierarchical, visible organisation. On a more mundane level it refers to its French ‘component’, whose role within the universal church would be viewed differently by those of a gallican or an ultramontane persuasion. Was it the ‘church of France’ or merely the ‘church in France’? Gallicans preferred the first of these terms, for obvious reasons. The ecclesiological lexicon is less useful when we move from the theological to the practical-institutional sphere. Was the French church a collective entity personified, for example, by its bishops who together constituted the kind of leadership that provided its institutional visibility? And if so, how could – or did – that leadership manifest itself on a monarchy-wide scale? Did it require a ‘national’ council of bishops for that to be the case? But no such council ever met in the early modern period, despite one or two threats, in 1551 and 1715 respectively. By contrast, actual assemblies of clergy, whose membership consisted of elected bishops and other elected clergy, did meet with growing regularity, but only after 1560. To paraphrase a historian of England’s parliaments of this period, the assemblies of clergy were for a time events rather than an institution.22 Even after they had become institutionalised, their claim to speak in the name of the French church was limited in many ways, particularly because their primary raison d’être was to vote financial assistance to the monarchy. On occasion, their decisions were rejected by individual bishops who argued that they alone should decide what should be done within their dioceses – an argument which itself had impeccable gallican foundations. That very gallican sense of their own authority which France’s bishops possessed did not always make for a harmonious relationship between individual bishops or among their collective number. Above all, it should make it easier to understand why neither the crown nor the papacy wished to see the French church establish powerful institutional sources of independent decision-making, leadership or action. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the regular assemblies of clergy played a major part in adding real substance to the notion of a visible gallican church and were capable of acting as an effective mouthpiece of that church, despite the extent to which they were dominated by France’s bishops.23 The gallican articles

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of 1682 have nearly always been cited as the clearest evidence of this development, but we shall observe other such moments along the way – and indeed well after 1682. This exploration of the gallican church should include at least one player whose role is perhaps the least obvious from a modern perspective – the universities, and specifically their theology faculties. Historically, Paris and its theology faculty stood head and shoulders above all the others, not just in France, but across Europe generally.24 This was, of course, why Luther’s works and Henry VIII’s divorce case, among others, were submitted to it for examination in the 1520s. Universities and their corporation of ‘masters’ were a kind of fourth estate whose teaching mission included an obligation to defend truth and orthodoxy; they exercised a magisterium that was all the more important during the centuries when the papacy did not yet claim a monopoly on that responsibility. Thus, universities were quite logically represented at medieval church councils, and the Paris doctors made major contributions at the great councils of Constance and Basle.25 Then and later, their role in developing conciliar and gallican ideas was no less important than that of the jurists, although the two sides came to diverge on several key questions. Over the centuries, the evolution of their thinking on the nature of the church – the subset of theology known as ecclesiology – was of major importance, since it also had consequences for conceptions of political authority and its status in relation to the wider society. Diffusing these ideas among the elite of the French clergy through their teaching was no less crucial to the universities’ wider reach. Around 1500–50, the ‘Sorbonne’ – the usual shorthand for the Paris theology faculty – still viewed itself as the oracle of Christendom. Its 1543 articles of faith became part of French law once adopted by François I and registered by the parlement of Paris; the articles even formed the basis of subsequent confessions of faith that had to be made by royal officials taking up office.26 But for all its accumulated influence, the ground had already begun to move under the faculty’s feet.27 Its members proved far less influential at the Council of Trent than at previous councils – partly because Trent was the most ‘episcopal’ of all councils to date. Between them, the post-tridentine papacy and the French crown would gradually whittle away much of the faculty’s historical supervision and powers to censure unorthodox ideas and books.28 Moreover, its subsequent involvement with the Catholic League after 1588 proved quite disastrous to its authority and wider influence.29 During the first decade of the next century, the faculty’s most famous syndic, Edmond Richer, would attempt to restore its historical lustre, which he associated with the age of Gerson (chancellor of the university 1395–1415), by reforming its statutes and ‘codifying’ its teaching, but his version of gallicanism was,

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as we shall see, too extreme for most of his fellow doctors and his reforms were partially aborted. Simultaneously, the crown and papacy continued to shrink the faculty’s claims to authority, thus signalling the relegation of ‘mere’ theologians to secondary, advisory roles. At the same time, the Paris parlement, in its self-appointed but highly unwelcome role as ‘protector’ of the faculty, claimed the right to oversee its activities and ensure that they were consonant with the ‘maxims of the kingdom’; the successive ‘reforms’ of the university from 1536 onwards served also to reduce the autonomy that