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.

the justice and the attendant question of judicial integrity. Like many office-holders in the Ancien Regime, the judges of England’s ecclesiastical courts depended upon court fees for their basic incomes. And the records of individual trials that were fully recorded, customarily included the payment of court fees, of which judges took a share.30 Litigants paid for libels, for commissions to examine witnesses, for sentences, for documents of appeal; indeed they paid for all the paper produced during trials. Part of the money paid for these items went to the judges

in Judicial tribunals in England and Europe, 1200–1700
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and practice of episcopacy. It had a profound impact on the episcopate and its relationship with the Tridentine papacy and the French crown, and ultimately shaped the French church for the remainder of the ancien régime. At its heart stood its keenest participants, the body of prelates that formed the French episcopate. Historians have long understood that to grasp the nature of early modern catholicism, one must attend to its bishops. In the traditional ‘confessional’ accounts of the Counter-Reformation, they assumed pivotal positions in the Introduction 2 22

in Fathers, pastors and kings

eighteenth-century international ‘deist movement’, which has been considered ‘especially strong in Britain and France’.3 It has consequently been noted that amongst some historians there has been an ‘obsessive iteration of “modernity” as a watchword of Enlightenment’.4 In his Christianity under the Ancien Régime 1648–1789 (1999), Ward has suggested that the number of deist writers was ‘immense’.5 Herrick (The Radical Rhetoric of the English Deists, 1997) has claimed that English deists were so numerous that they posed a threat to the social and religious order.6 In his

in The Enlightenment and religion

, Christianity under the Ancien Régime 1648–1789 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 159, on Bayle’s active membership of the reformed church while writing the Dictionnaire. K. Sandberg, At the Crossroads of Faith and Reason. An Essay on Pierre Bayle (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1966), p. 2. Ibid., pp. 38–9. W. Rex, Essays on Pierre Bayle and Religious Controversy (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1965), p. x. Sandberg, At the Crossroads of Faith and Reason, pp. 99, 103. E. Labrousse, Pierre Bayle (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1983; 1st edn

in The Enlightenment and religion
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Sovereignty and registration of the laws

majorité de Charles IX et trois autres discours, ed. Robert Descimon (Paris, 1993), pp. 107–108; Michel de Marillac, 13 Louis XIV and the parlements 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 ‘Mémoire . . . contre l’authorité du Parlement’, BN, Fonds fr., 7,549, ff. 90v–91r; Le Bret, Souveraineté, Bk II, ch. ix; Georges Picot, Histoire des États Généraux (4 vols; Paris, 1872), II, 561–562. François Olivier-Martin, L’organisation corporative de la France d’ancien régime (Paris, 1938), p.439; Georges d’Avenel, vicomte, Richelieu et la monarchie absolue, 2nd ed. (4 vols; Paris

in Louis XIV and the parlements

of the compound structure of political and religious culture after the Glorious Revolution. Historians have debated for many years whether 1689 was a watershed in the creation of the modern world, or merely another ‘restoration’ of ancien regime constitutions in Church and State. Whether insisting that British culture stood on the brink of modernity, or that the nation was not so much transformed as secured, it is clear that one of the major issues of public and private life was the status and role of religion in political culture.9 Far from ending debates about

in Republican learning

dramatically. These ‘rational’ forms of thought contributed to the criticism of the ancien régime in France, the French Revolution, and the development of what we now call ‘political ideologies’ that dominated political debate in Europe and the world during the following two centuries. Far from introducing new forms of rationality into politics, ideological forms of thinking tended to create new forms of

in Understanding political ideas and movements

augmentations de gages’, BN, Fonds fr., 7,727, ff. 5r–6v. For the forced loans of other corporate groups, see E. Laurain, Essai sur les présidiaux (Paris, 1896), pp. 64–66; David D. Bien, ‘The secrétaires du roi: Absolutism, Corps 90 Venal office and royal breakthrough 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 and Privilege under the Ancien Régime’, in Vom Ancien Régime zur Franzöischen Revolution, ed. Ernst Hinrichs (Göttingen, 1978), pp. 161–163. John J. Hurt, ‘The Parlement of Brittany in the Reign of Louis XIV’ (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, 1969), 198–240; Jean

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public tranquillity, and the contravention of ordinances, that the publication of [a] doctrine will have been able to cause’.65 Of course, the episcopate did make some valuable gains from this edict, because its hierarchical authority over the pastoral activities of the lower clergy, regular and secular, was confirmed in secular law. But this was achieved at the price of surrendering some of its ideals to the practicalities of living under the ancien régime. Indeed, while the bishops at times managed to benefit from their privileged access to the Bourbon monarchy, they

in Fathers, pastors and kings