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Visions of episcopacy in seventeenth-century France

This book explores how conceptions of episcopacy (government of a church by bishops) shaped the identity of the bishops of France in the wake of the reforming Council of Trent (1545–63). It demonstrates how the episcopate, initially demoralised by the Wars of Religion, developed a powerful ideology of privilege, leadership and pastorate that enabled it to become a flourishing participant in the religious, political and social life of the ancien regime. The book analyses the attitudes of Tridentine bishops towards their office by considering the French episcopate as a recognisable caste, possessing a variety of theological and political principles that allowed it to dominate the French church.

chap 1 22/3/04 12:11 pm Page 19 1 Catholic renewal and episcopal traditions in the sixteenth century In the eyes of its Catholic contemporaries in the early 1560s, the French episcopate must have appeared to be in an enviable position. A highly influential role in the formulation of the Council of Trent’s reform programme left its mark for posterity in the shape of the final decrees and earned its members the respect of the entire Catholic church, an impression not lessened by the fact that the French delegation had only been present at the Council’s final

in Fathers, pastors and kings
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thrived, and it might seem, at first glance, that neither their function nor necessity actually changed at all through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Catholic church had consecrated bishops from its earliest times; these were the supervisors of dioceses and the leaders of the faithful, and the Council of Trent simply reinforced that role by re-issuing customary rules that ordered bishops to reside in their dioceses, hold synods and visitations, and discipline their clergy. Yet this fundamental continuity belies the immense shifts in the understanding of

in Fathers, pastors and kings

reform as it was in its formulation. Beginning in 1527, the Wittenberg theologians together with secular magistrates began a process of visitations throughout a number of German territories. These were inspections of parish life with an eye to evaluating the quality of pastoral care. Melanchthon prepared the manual for these visitations, and in so doing he both adopted a procedure of the Roman church and anticipated some of the pastoral initiatives of the Council of Trent.7 Visitation protocols were only one way in which the young Melanchthon sought to extend

in Luther’s lives
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French clerical reformers and episcopal status

public approval of the Sulpicians’ seminary work and in order that the clergy involved in this work could be enlightened, animated and directed by the episcopate.59 As for Bérulle, Condren, and indeed for the Council of Trent, the presence of a divinely ordained church hierarchy was a crucial assumption in Olier’s episcopal and sacerdotal thought. He accepted the Dionysian format which situated bishops at the summit of this hierarchy in their ‘holy grandeur’ and delineated the characteristics of the episcopal office in relation to this system.60 chap 2 22/3/04 12

in Fathers, pastors and kings
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Mirrors of French ideals?

’s work also reflects the steady change in the episcopate’s perspective. Just as his eulogy of Borromeo furnished an occasion to expound on episcopal grace, the bishop’s eulogy of Barthélemy des Martyrs enabled him to express precisely his adherence to the droit divin concept of episcopal jurisdiction. When he attended the Council of Trent, the archbishop of Braga had been particularly vocal in the call for episcopal residence to be defined as arising from divine law.40 In recounting Martyrs’s convictions, Godeau described the bones of the actual debate in a deceptively

in Fathers, pastors and kings

would succeed in stamping their authority on diocesan ecclesiastical structures and personnel. Central to these contests were the decrees of the Council of Trent. Its delegates recognised that the religious orders had, over generations, built up a formidable autonomy through privileges which exempted them from episcopal jurisdiction. Equally, they anticipated that their proposed system of hierarchical government would have difficulty accommodating thousands of autonomous religious across Europe. To avoid unedifying clashes, the Council provided a codified system for

in Fathers, pastors and kings
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Nuns’ narratives in early modern Venice

which had occurred at San Zaccaria, and his remarks about the sexual transgressions which had taken place as a result of that breach appear almost marginal. This preoccupation with walls echoed those Counter-Reformation directives which had emanated from the Council of Trent and from Rome in the 1560s, subjecting all nunneries to strict enclosure, whatever the nature of their rule or customary rights. The same rulings pronounced anathema on anyone who dared to traverse the holy boundaries of enclosure, in either direction, without episcopal permission.30 Surprisingly

in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700
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An introduction to his life and work

evangelists’ (with Nausea, Johann Eck, and Johann Fabri) commissioned to compose a Catholic response to the Lutherans’ Confession. Toward the end of his life he did all he could to participate in the Council of Trent, but that was not to happen.12 The first decade of Reformation polemics is the period in which Cochlaeus most ardently defends the teachings of the Catholic tradition. A characteristic work of this decade is his defense of the idea that St Peter had lived and taught in Rome.13 Luther had questioned the Apostle’s connection with Rome in the hope of deflating the

in Luther’s lives
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incorporated elements of political gallicanism it did not stop them from chap 5 22/3/04 150 12:53 pm Page 150 FATHERS, PASTORS AND KINGS regularly clashing with the political gallicans who represented the secular government. They were even, on occasion, perfectly willing to ally themselves with the papacy to deflect incursions on their territory: both Rome and the bishops thoroughly disagreed with the crown’s plan to try Retz. Most of them also took issue with the complete veto by political gallicans on the decrees of the Council of Trent, for they did not see why

in Fathers, pastors and kings