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 AncienRegime,
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
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 ancienrégime. 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
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 AncienRégime 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
, Christianity under the AncienRégime 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
majorité de Charles IX et trois
autres discours, ed. Robert Descimon (Paris, 1993), pp. 107–108; Michel de Marillac,
Louis XIV and the parlements
‘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’ancienrégime (Paris,
1938), p.439; Georges d’Avenel, vicomte, Richelieu et la monarchie absolue, 2nd ed.
(4 vols; Paris
of the compound structure of political and religious culture after the
Historians have debated for many years whether 1689 was a watershed in
the creation of the modern world, or merely another ‘restoration’ of ancienregime 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
These ‘rational’ forms of
thought contributed to the criticism of the ancienrégime
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
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
Venal oﬃce and royal breakthrough
and Privilege under the AncienRégime’, in Vom AncienRégime 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
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
ancienrégime. Indeed, while the bishops at times managed to benefit from their
privileged access to the Bourbon monarchy, they