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Episcopal Unrest: Gallicanism in the 1625 Assembly of the Clergy

  • Michael K. Becker (a1)

Extract

A major problem in assessing the ecclesiastical policies of the government of Louis XIII is the equivocal reputation of its chief ministers as a churchman. Cardinal Richelieu enjoys an uncertain reputation as churchman in large measure because of the inherent ambiguities of his position as both prince of the church and chief minister of the king of France. Further compounding this ambiguous position was Gallicanism, the peculiar stance of the French church on matters of church-state and Franco-papal relations. A classic example of how Gallicanism could introduce complex and independently derived factors into Richelieu's policies was the decennial meeting of the Assembly of the Clergy of 1625. At that meeting, early in Richelieu's tenure as chief minister, the French clergy demonstrated with great vigor that Gallicanism was not a doctrine of the past and that it had wellsprings quite independent of the crown and Richelieu. Even in 1625 most people, including the papal curia, found it difficult to believe that the behavior of the Assembly of the Clergy was not dictated by Richelieu. We shall see, however, that the Assembly adopted measures well calculated to irritate the Holy See at a time when Cardinal Richelieu had every desire to placate Urban VIII. In 1625 Richelieu was negotiating feverishly to extricate Louis XIII from war in the Valtellina without losing the fruits of his aggressive action there. Richelieu's plan called for a papal garrison to be placed in the valley to keep it neutral and closed to Spain. Necessarily, the pope's cooperation was vital, which meant that it was not the moment to offend Urban VIII by attacking papal authority at home.

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1. For an overview of these assemblies see Blet, Pierre, Le Clergé de France et la monarche: étude sur les assemblées générales du clergé de 1615 à 1661, 2 vols. (Rome, 1959).

2. See Dudon, Paul, “Gallicanisme politique et théologie gallicane,” Recherches de science religieuse 19 (1929): 513529, and Martin, Victor, Les Origines du gallicanisme, 2 vols. (Paris, 1939). An excellent recent examination of the broad concept of Gallicanism is to be found in Bouwsma, William J., “Gallicanism and the Nature of Christendom,” in Anthony, Molho and Tedeschi, John A., eds., Renaissance Studies In Honor Of Hans Baron (DeKalb, Illinois, 1971), pp. 811830.

3. Pithou, Pierre, Les Libertez de l'Église gallicane (Paris, 1594); Coquille, Guy, Des Droits ecclésiastiques et Libertez de l'Église gallicane, in Oeuvres de maistre Guy Co quille (Paris, 1665), 1.

4. See Martin; also Joseph, Lecler, “Qu'est-ce que les libertés de 1'Église Gallicane,” Recherches de science religieuse 23 (1933): 385410 and 542568, and Recherches 24 (1934): 4785); Valois, N., Histoire de la Pragmatique Sanction de Bourges sous Charles 711 (Paris, 1906): and Delaruelle, E., Labande, E.-R., and Paul, Ourliac, L'Eglise autemps du Grand Schisme et de la crise conciliaire (Paris, 1962), 1:315368.

5. Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Segretario di Stato, Francia (hereafter ASV), 65, fols.89v-97v, dispatch, Rome to Spada, 24 February 1626.

6. “Remontrance du Clergé de France, assemblée à Paris, faite au Roi Louis XIII, le 30 Mai 1625,” Recucil des actes, titres et mémoires concernant les affaires du Clergé de France 14 vols. (Paris, 1768), 13:451453.

7. Blet, 1:273.

8. Ibid., pp. 276–283.

9. Isambert, Taillandier, and Decrusy, , Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises, depuis l'an 420 jusqu' à la récolution de 1789 (Paris, 1829), 16, doc. 123, Royal edict, Fontainebleau, October 1625.

10. Blet, 1:270.

11. Isambert, doc. 104, “Lettres patentes pour I'enregistrement d'une bulle du pape Grégoire XV, qui érige 'éveché de Paris en archéveché,” February 1623.

12. Aubert, Félix, Histoire du Parlement de Paris de 'origine à François Ier (Paris, 1894), 1: 332338.

13. “Plainte de 1'Évesque de Léon à I'Assemblée générale du Clergé de France, sur la sentence d'excommunication dounée par le Doyen de Nantes subdélégué…” Collectio judiciorum de novis erroribus, qui ab initio duodecimi seculi post incarnationem verbi, usque ad annum 1632 in ecclesia proscripti sunt & notati, ed. Charles, Duplessis d'Argentré (Paris, 1728), 2 pt. 2, 168174.

14. Houssaye, M., Le Père de Bérulle et l'Oratoire de Jésus (Paris, 1874) provides a detailed study of the Oratory.

15. Mercure François (1626), 12:3, 906907.

16. Ibid., p. 909.

17. Collectio Judiciorum, 2 pt. 2, 165168, Louytre's sentence against the nuns and the bishop, 12 April 1625, gives the history of his commission.

18. Meroure François (1626), 12:3, 912.

19. Collectio Judiciorum, 2 pt. 2, 165168.

20. Blet, 1:299.

21. “Plainte de l'Évesque de Léon,” Collctio Judciorum, 2 pt. 2, 168174.

22. Ibid.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid., sentence of Louytre.

25. Ibid., pp. 175–176, Declaration of the Assembly of the Clergy agains Louytre, 16 June 1625.

26. Blet, 1:301.

27. Ibid., p. 309.

28. Ibid., p. 312.

29. Ibid., p. 318

30. Houssaye, M., Le Cardinal de Bérulle et le Cardinal de Richelieu, 1625–1629 (Paris, 1875), p. 82.

31. Mercure François (1626), 12:3, 934.

32. ASV, 65, fols. 28v-35v, dispatch, Spada to Rome, 2 January 1626.

33. Mercure François (1626), 12:3, 935.

34. Leman, Auguste, Recueil des instructions générales aux nonces ordinaires de France de 1624 à 1634 (Paris-Lille, 1920), “Instruction de Spada,” p. 24.

35. Fonqueray, Henri, Histoire de la compagnie de Jésus en France (Paris, 1925), 4:127.

36. Blet, 1:321.

37. “Déclaration de 'Aseemblée générale du Clergé de France, sur ce qui est à observer sous la conduite de Messieurs les Évêques par les Reguliers, & autres Exemptes …,” 13 January 1626, Collectio Judicorum, 2 pt. 2, 176–183.

38. To compare, see Recueil des actes… du Clergé, 6:123142.

39. Collectio, Judiciorum, 2 pt. 2, 176183.

40. One such case was that the son of Maître des Requêtes Favier. The boy ran off to Lorraine to join the Jesuits and the father sued the order in the Parlement. See Fouqueray, pp. 54–55.

41. Collectio, Judiciorum, 2 pt. 2, 176183.

42. Ibid.

43. Ibid.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. Fouqueray, p. 131.

47. Ibid., p. 132.

48. ASV, 64, fols. 447–451, dispatch, Spada to Rome, 14 October 1625.

49. Bibliothèque Nationale, mss. français, 3677, fols. 170v-175v, dispatch, Béthune to Herbault, 8 December 1625.

50. Blet, 1:325.

51. ASV, 65, fols. 89v-97v, dispatch, Rome to Spada, 24 February 1626.

52. Richelieu, Cardinal, Lettres, instructions diplomatiques et papiers d'état, ed. d'Avenel, G. (Paris, 1856), 2, doc. 71 “Règlement pour toutes les affaires du royaume,” dated 1625 by Avenel.

53. Ibid., doc. 81, letter, Richelieu to Molé, 24 April 1626.

54. Ibid., doc. 71.

55. See Aimé-Georges Martimort, Le Gallicanisme de Bossuet (Paris, 1953).

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