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The concile national of 1811 was one of the greatest flashpoints in the struggle that pitted the Napoleonic Empire against the papacy. This episode, which deserves to be situated within more recent historiographical trends, reveals much about the nature of Napoleonic imperialism and the Church's distrust for the power of the state. This article puts forward the view that the failure of the concile national was not strategic but tactical. Several bishops were frustrated with the pope's recalcitrance over episcopal investiture and fearful of schism. But their initial openness to neo-conciliarism turned to hostility when confronted with the state's intolerance.