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The Concile National of 1811: Napoleon, Gallicanism and the Failure of Neo-Conciliarism

  • AMBROGIO A. CAIANI (a1)

Abstract

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.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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I would like to thank the Revd Dr Allan Doig, Dr Giacomo Macola and the two anonymous readers for this Journal for their many helpful suggestions for improvement. My father was a constant source of support and help while I was writing this piece. Any remaining infelicities are entirely my own.

Footnotes

References

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1 Broers, M., The politics of religion in Napoleonic Italy: the war against God, 1801–1814, London 2002, 126.

2 de Cléron, J. O., comte d'Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, 1800–1814, Paris 1864–79; comte de Mayol de Lupé, M. E. H., La Captivité de Pie VII: d'après des documents inédits, Paris 1916; Ricard, A., Le Concile national de 1811, Paris 1894.

3 Rossetti, A., Giornale, ossia memorie relative al Concilio Nazionale convocato in Parigi colla circolare dell'Imperatore e Re Napoleone 25 aprile 1814, Venice 1844.

4 The summons, orders and travel arrangements for the bishops of the Napoleonic kingdom of Italy are to be found in ASMi, atti di governo, culto parte moderna 2540.

5 Plongeron, B., Des Résistances religieuses à Napoléon, 1799–1813, Paris 2006, 279315; Boudon, J.-O. and Hême de Lacotte, R. (eds), La Crise concordataire: Catholiques français et italiens entre Pie VII et Napoléon, 1808–1814, Paris 2016, esp. B. Plongeron, ‘Napoléon et la crise religieuse, 1809–1812: radioscopie d'un échec’, at pp. 21–39; S. Hermann de Franceschi, ‘Le Spectre de Bossuet et des quatre articles de 1682: reviviscence d'une référence gallicane au temps de l'affrontement entre Pie vii et Napoléon ier’, at pp. 171–95; and R. Hême de la Lacotte, ‘De la Faveur à la fronde: la grande aumônerie Napoléon et l’échec du concile de 1811’, at pp. 69–91.

6 Ellis, G., ‘Religion according to Napoleon: the limitations of pragmatism’, in Aston, N. (ed.), Religious changes in Europe, 1650–1914, London 1997, 235–55.

7 Broers, Politics of religion, ch. iv.

8 E. Perreau-Saussine, Catholicism and democracy, Princeton, NJ 2012, esp. chs i, ii.

9 Roberts, W., ‘Napoleon, the Concordat of 1801, and its consequences’, in Coppa, F. (ed.), Controversial concordats: the Vatican's relations with Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler, Washington, DC 2012, 3480.

10 Theiner, A., Histoire des deux concordats, Paris 1869, ii/1, chs ii–iii; ii/2, ch. x. More broadly see McManners, J., The French Revolution and the Church, London 1969, 140–50, and Desan, S., ‘The French Revolution and religion, 1795–1815’, in Brown, S. and Tackett, T. (eds), The Cambridge history of Christianity, VII: Enlightenment, reawakening and revolution, 1660–1815, Cambridge 2006, 564–73.

11 Napoleon to Pius vii, Paris, 13 février 1806, in Fondation Napoléon, Napoléon Bonaparte: correspondance générale, Paris 2004–18, vi, no. 11445, at pp. 113–14.

12 Mayol de Lupé, La Captivité de Pie VII, passim; Hales, E. E. Y., The emperor and the pope, New York 1978, passim.

13 Destrem, J., ‘Déportations de prêtres sous le Premier Empire’, Revue historique xi/2 (1879), 331–88.

14 Beseghi, U., I tredici Cardinali Neri, Florence 1944, passim; de Grandmaison, C. A., Napoléon et les cardinaux noirs, 1810–1814, Paris 1895, passim.

15 Bindel, V., Le Vatican à Paris, Paris 1942, 135–53.

16 Melchior-Bonnet, B., Napoléon et le pape, Paris 1958, 118–21.

17 Broers, Politics of religion, ch. vi.

18 Bindel, V., Histoire religieuse de Napoléon, Paris 1940, i. 1374.

19 Morris, C., The papal monarchy: the Western Church from 1050 to 1250, Oxford 1989, 109–33; Wilson, P., The Holy Roman Empire, London 2016, 4667.

20 Smith, J. H., The Great Schism, 1378: the disintegration of the papacy, London 1970, passim.

21 Kley, D. van, The religious origins of the French Revolution, London 1996, esp. pp. 113, 135–90.

22 Oakley, F., The Conciliarist tradition: constitutionalism in the Catholic Church, 1300–1870, Oxford 2003, 141216.

23 Latreille, A., ‘Le Gallicanisme ecclésiastique sous le Premier Empire, vers le Concile national de 1811’, Revue historique cxciv/1 (1944), 122.

24 van Kley, Religious origins, 135–90.

25 Beales, D., Enlightenment and reform in eighteenth century Europe, London 2005, 207–61.

26 Bradley, J. and van Kley, D. (eds), Religion and politics in Enlightenment Europe, Notre Dame, In 2001, 145; Sorkin, D., The religious Enlightenment, Princeton, NJ 2008, 121; Burson, J. and Lehner, U. (eds), Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe, Notre Dame, In 2014, 131.

27 Bolton, C. A., Church reform in 18th century Italy: the Synod of Pistoia, 1786, The Hague 1969, passim; D. van Kley, ‘Catholic conciliar reform in an age of anti-Catholic Revolution: France, Italy and the Netherlands, 1758–1801’, in Bradley and van Kley, Religion and politics, 46–106.

28 Crimando, T., ‘Two French views of the Council of Trent’, Sixteenth Century Journal xix/2 (1988), 169–86.

29 Bergin, J., Crown, Church and episcopate under Louis XIV, London 2004, 232–60.

30 ‘Déclaration du Clergé de France de 1682’ [with registration in parlement], AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 10 [?].

31 Latreille, ‘Le Gallicanisme’, 1.

32 Plongeron, Bernard, ‘Face au Concordat 1801, résistances des évêques anciens constitutionnels’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française cccxxxvii (2004), 85115.

33 Ibid. 85–92.

34 Drochon, J.-E., La Petite Eglise; essai historique sur le schisme anticoncordataire, Paris 1894, passim.

35 The papal requirement that they retract their oath of 1791 and recant previous errors was never enforced by the Napoleonic authorities: Plongeron, ‘Face au Concordat’, 87; Dean, R. J., L'Eglise constitutionnelle, Napoléon et le Concordat de 1801, Paris 2004, 315404.

36 Il n'y a rien de Gallican dans le jeune clergé’ : de Las Cases, E. (ed.), Le Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, London 1823, iii. 80.

37 Tackett, T., Religion, revolution, and regional culture in eighteenth-century France: the ecclesiastical oath of 1791, Princeton, NJ 1986, passim.

38 Bindel, Histoire religieuse de Napoléon, i, chs iv, ix.

39 de Bertier de Sauvigny, G., Le Comte Ferdinand de Bertier et l'énigme de la Congrégation, Paris 1948, 3648.

40 C. Armenteros, ‘Hugues-Félicité de Lamennais, lost sheep of the religious Enlightenment’, in Burson and Lehner, Enlightenment and Catholicism in Europe, 145–64.

41 Roquette, A., Monseigneur Frayssinous, grand-maître de l'université sous la Restauration, 1765–1841, Paris 2007, 2963.

42 Gough, A., Paris and Rome: the Gallican Church and the Ultramontane campaign, 1848–1853, Oxford 1986, esp. pp. 3459.

43 Félix Julien Bigot de Préameneu to Napoleon, n.d., AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 20.

44 The immediate solution had been to return to Bourbon precedent. During the régale crisis of 1672 to 1693, Rome had similarly refused to confirm Louis xiv’s candidates to the episcopacy: Bergin, Crown, Church and episcopate, 232–60; ‘Aperçu de la conduite tenu par les Empereurs et Rois lorsque les Papes se sont mal conduits’, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, no. 49.

45 ‘Rapport à SM sur l'affaire d'Astros’, ibid. dossier 1.

46 Droulers, P., ‘Abbé d'Astros et l'expérience religieuse du Premier Empire’, Gregorianum xxix/2 (1948), 252–87.

47 ‘Rapport de la Commission sur les réponses des évêques’, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 1, no. 1.

48 Savona deputation, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, nos 120–2.

49 ‘Rapport du voyage des evêques auprès du pape’, ibid. no. 156.

50 Tierney, B., Foundations of the conciliar theory, Cambridge 1955, passim; Black, A. J., ‘What was conciliarism?’, in Tierney, B. and Linehan, P. (eds), Authority and power, Cambridge 1980, 213–24.

51 I. Collins, Napoleon and his parliaments, 1800–1815, London 1979, 107–20.

52 Gosselin, J. E. A., Vie de M. Émerys, Paris 1862, ii. 295312.

53 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, iv. 81–2, 87–8; Dufour de Pradt, D., Les Quatres Concordats, Paris 1818, ii. 453.

54 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, iv. 88–9.

55 ‘Rapport du voyage des evêques auprès du pape’, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, no. 156.

56 Rossetti, Giornale ossia, 97–8; ASMi, Culto PM 2540, dossier 1 circolari.

57 de Barral, L. M. J., Fragments relatifs à l'histoire ecclésiastique des premières années du dix-neuvième siècle, Paris 1814, 328–30.

58 Napoleon to Eugène de Beauharnais (his stepson and viceroy of Italy), Paris, 3 mars 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte: correspondance générale, ix, no. 20203 at p. 146; propaganda, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, nos 68–9.

59 Daunou, P., La Puissance temporelle des papes, et l'abus qu'ils ont fait de leur ministère spiritual, Paris 2007, 154.

60 Minart, G., Pierre Daunou, l'anti-Robespierre, Toulouse 2001, 151–77.

61 ‘de l'exercice des droits du pape et des souverains relativement aux conciles’, 31 mai 1811, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, unnumbered; anon., Cérémonial du Concile National de Paris tenu l'an 1811, Paris 1811, 67.

62 ‘Aperçu de la conduite tenu par les empereurs et rois lorsque les papes se sont mal conduits’, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, no. 49.

63 ‘de l'exercice des droits du pape et des souverains relativement aux conciles’, 31 mai 1811, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, unnumbered.

64 ‘Daunou's report on concile’, ibid. no. 13, fo. 32; Valois, N., Histoire de la Pragmatique Sanction de Bourges sous Charles VII, Paris 1906, passim.

65 Hsia, R. Po-Chia, The world of Catholic renewal, 1540–1770, Cambridge 2011, 1025.

66 Carreyre, J., Le Concile d'Embrun, 1727–1728, Bordeaux 1929, esp. pp. 2862.

67 Ricard, Le Concile National de 1811, 119–24.

68 Lenfant, J., ‘Maurice de Broglie, évêque de Gand, 1766–1821’, Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France xvii/76 (1931), 312–47.

69 Woolf, S., Napoleon's integration of Europe, London 1991, 109–10.

70 Lenfant, ‘Maurice de Broglie’, 325.

71 Madival, J. and Laurent, E. (eds), Archives parlementaires, 1787–1860, Paris 1867, xi. 71.

72 Report from Bigot to the emperor on ecclesiastical oath, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, nos 31–2; Lyonnet, J.-P., Le Cardinal Fesch, archevêque de Lyon, Paris 1841.

73 Welschinger, H., Le Pape et l'empereur, 1804–1815, Paris 1905, 201.

74 Imperial address, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 74.

75 Ricard, Le Concile National de 1811, 158–60.

76 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, iv. 258–61; ‘Esprit du Concile’ (police reports on the bishops), AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, nos 32–3.

77 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, iv. 281.

78 ‘Note on committee’, St Cloud, juillet 1811, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 35.

79 ‘Esprit du Concile’, ibid. nos 32–3.

80 Lyonnet, Le Cardinal Fesch, ii. 336.

81 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, iv. 325.

82 Ibid. iv. 328–9.

83 ASMi, Culto PM 2540, dossier 2, concili e sinodi.

84 Rossetti, Giornale ossia, 37–69, esp p. 51.

85 van Kley, ‘Catholic conciliar reform’, passim.

86 Boudon, J.-O., Napoléon et les cultes, Paris 2002, 286–90, 299–304.

87 ‘Rapports de la commission sur les réponses des évêques’, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 10.

88 Bell, D., Lawyers and citizens: the making of a political elite in old regime France, Oxford 1994, 6891.

89 Lentz, T., Savary, le Séide de Napoléon, Paris 2001, 281–7.

90 Broers, M., The Napoleonic Mediterranean: Enlightenment, revolution and empire, London 2016, esp. pt ii; Lentz, T. and Bernard, G. (eds), Napoléon et le droit, Paris 2017, esp. Guillaume Bernard, ‘Le Droit dynastique napoléonien: entre enracinement historique et innovation politique’, at pp. 91–102; Marc Bouvet, ‘Le Conseil d’État napoléonien, juge administratif suprême sous l'Empire’, at pp. 125–39; and Xavier Martin ‘L'Implication de Bonaparte dans l’éclosion du Code Civil’, at pp. 199–210.

91 Génestal, R., Les Origines de l'appel comme d'abus, Paris 1951, passim.

92 ‘Rapport de la commission présidée par S.E. le Grand Juge et chargée de proposer un projet touchant l'institution canonique des évêques’, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 44.

93 ‘Projet de loi’, ibid.

94 van Kley, Religious origins, 114–70.

95 Long undated draft piece of legislation signed by Cambaceres, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 45.

96 Draft decree, ibid. no. 54.

98 Ledré, C., ‘Un Archevêque français au concile de 1811’, Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France xxxii/20 (1946), 84102.

99 Bigot and Bovara's tallies of bishops for and against the decree, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, nos 48–52; Eugène de Beauharnais orders Bovara to Paris, 8 June 1811, ASMi, Culto PM 2540, dossier 2, concili e sinodi.

100 Ricard, Le Concile National de 1811, 257–83.

101 Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, v. 10–14.

102 Joseph-Marie de Gérando, report, AN, AF IV 1048, dossier 2, nos 123, 124.

103 Patriarch of Venice announces that a papal brief is being drafted, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 80.

104 Reports by Bigot on issues with draft papal brief, ibid. nos 82–5; Haussonville, L'Église romaine et le Premier Empire, v. 74–105.

105 Bigot to bishops in Savona, 3 Dec. 1811, AN, AF IV 1047, dossier 2, no. 124; Madelin, L., La Rome de Napoléon, Paris 1906, 435–53.

106 Melchior-Bonnet, Napoléon et le pape, 305–23.

107 Welschinger, Le Pape et l'empereur, 339–93.

108 Boudon, Napoléon et les cultes, 145–56.

109 Aston, N., The end of an elite: the French bishops and the coming of the Revolution, 1786–1790, Oxford 1992, passim.

I would like to thank the Revd Dr Allan Doig, Dr Giacomo Macola and the two anonymous readers for this Journal for their many helpful suggestions for improvement. My father was a constant source of support and help while I was writing this piece. Any remaining infelicities are entirely my own.

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