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The Crown, the Papacy and the Reform of the Old Orders in Early Seventeenth-Century France

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 March 2011

Extract

In reviewing the historiography of the Catholic reform in seventeenthcentury France, one cannot but be struck by the scant attention devoted to the old monastic orders. At a superficial level, this may well be because there are few genuine successes to record or because the numerous failures of attempted reforms make up a particularly depressing and unedifying tale. It is obvious that the more recently founded congregations, both male and female, proved to be more sensitive to the needs of the age and better equipped to deal with them; it was they who succeeded in attracting most of the religious elite who sought entry into the religious life out of a sense of vocation. The rapid growth of the Jesuits, Capucins, Oratorians, Lazarists and Eduists among the male societies, and of the Ursulines, Carmelites and Visitandines among the female are proof enough of that. But this of itself does not demonstrate that the older, monastic orders were not suited to the spiritual or pastoral needs of the age. Indeed, there is abundant evidence to show that, if reformed, they could act as centres for religious revival and attract outstanding individuals. The earliest stirrings of the Catholic reform in the 1590s and 1600s were closely connected to houses of old orders like the Benedictines and the Carmelites; many of the forty new religious houses founded in Paris between 1600 and 1640 belonged to the old orders. As for the inability of the old orders to attract recruits of a high quality, one need but point to the Maurists, Port Royal and the Cistercian strict observance.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1982

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References

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3 For example, the Burgundian abbey of St Philibert of Tournus possessed 19 prieurés and 14 cures scattered through fifteen dioceses, some of them as remote as Nantes and Lucon: Juenon, P., Nouvelle histoire de l'abbaie royale el collégia!? de St Filibert el de la ville de Tournus, Dijon 1733Google Scholar, appendix, ‘preuves de l'histoire de Tournus'.

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5 Rapp, F., L'Église et la vie religieuse en Occident à la fin du moyen âge, Paris 1971, 216ffGoogle Scholar; Evennett, H. O., The Spirit of the Counter-Reformation, Cambridge 1968, ch. 4Google Scholar; Jedin, H., ‘Zur Vorgeschichte der Regularenreform, Trid. Sess. XXV’, Römische Quartalschrift, xliv (1936), 231ffGoogle Scholar.

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11 The correspondence of the papal nuncios, very little of which has been published, is full of such references.

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14 Cf. Lemarchand, G., ‘Les Monastères de Haute-Normandie, essai de bilan économique’, Annales historiques de la révolution française, xxxvii (1965), 4ffGoogle Scholar, for some useful material on the seventeenth century.

15 For example: report by Jean Darnault to Cardinal Givry of his visitation of the ‘Exempts' of Aquitaine and Occitanie, June 1607, in Berlière, U. and Kaiser, J. B., ‘Le Cardinal de Givry et les Bénédictins', Revue Bénédictine, xlii (1930), 257–67Google Scholar; Lekai, L. J., ‘Moral and material status of the French Cistercian abbeys in the seventeenth century’, Analecta sacri ordinis dsterciensis, xix (1963), 199ffGoogle Scholar; Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève (hereafter cited as B.S.G.), MS 622, fos. 134–381, visitation of canons regular of provinces of Paris, Sens and Reims, 1623; MS 623, fos. 448–520, visitations of canons regular in Guyenne, 1630–1.

16 Pillorget, R., ‘Réforme monastique et conflits de rupture dans quelques localités de la France méridionale au xviie siècle’, Revue Historique, cclii (1975), 77106Google Scholar, for some striking illustrations of this.

17 L. von Pastor, History of the Popes, xxiii. 181ff; xxiv. 148ff.

18 Zakar, Histoire de la stride observance, ch. 1; Lekai, L. J., The Rise of the Cistercian Strict Observance in Seventeenth-Century France, Washington 1968, 27Google Scholarff.

19 Berlière, ‘Congregation...des exempts', 403.

20 Deslandres, P., L'Ordre des trinitaires pour le rachat des captifs, Paris 1903, i. 227ffGoogle Scholar.

21 Remonstrance au tres-chrestien Roy de France et de Navarre Henry IIII sur la reformation necessaire etja ordonnee par Sa Majeste estrefaicte en l'Ordre de St Benoist, Paris 1606. No trace has been found of any such directives by Henri iv.

22 Jean Darnault, visitor of the ‘Exempts', to Cardinal Givry, 2 June 1607, requesting Givry to intercede with Paul v in order to put pressure on Henri iv: Berliere and Kaiser, ‘Givry et les Bénédictins', 262.

23 Berlière, ‘Congrégation...des exempts', 403; Berlière and Kaiser, ‘Givry et les Bénédictins', 348–9, letter from prior and monks of St Denis to Givry, 26 October 1607; ibid., 358–9, Dom Jaunay to Givry, 30 November 1608. Givry was protector in Rome of the ‘Exempts'.

24 Both Henri iv and Louis xiii had to repeat the request for confirmation: Paris, B.N., MS Français 3542, fo. 9, Henri iv to Savary de Breves, ambassador in Rome, 6 January 1609; ibid., fo. 26, Louis xiii to Breves, 1 September 1610.

25 Martène, E., Hisloire de la congrégation de St Maur, ed. Charvin, G., Paris 1928, i. 9Google Scholar.

26 Tapié, V.-L., La Politique extérieure de la France el le début de la guerre de Irente ans, Paris 1934, 326Google Scholar, ‘Peut-être n'a-t-on pas suffisamment souligné ce changement. Il ne pouvait manquer de faire sentir ses effets, à la longue, jusqu'à dans la politique générate.'

27 Deslandres, L'Ordre des trinitaircs, i. 231ff.

28 Bachelet, X. M., ‘Robert Bellarmin et les Celestins en France’, Revue des Questions Historiques, civ (1926), 257–94Google Scholar, for a full account.

29 This account is derived from the correspondence of the nuncio, Corsini: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (hereafter B.A.V.), MS Barberini latini 8055, fos. 5, 23, 33, 49, 57, 94, 120–2, 149–52, letters to Cardinal Ludoviso, papal secretary of state, February–March 1622. The appel comme d'abus and other documents are in B.N., MS Cinq Cents de Colbert 159, fos. 238–41, 245–6, 250–1.

30 Martène, Histoire de St Maur, i. 11–15.

31 Ibid., 23–7.

32 B.N., MS Italien 1267, fos. 421–2, Roberto Ubaldini, papal nuncio, to Cardinal Borghese, papal secretary of state, 21 November 1613. In his reply, Borghese stated that the pope was ready to play his part in the reform: Archivio Vaticano, Nunziatura di Francia (hereafter A.V., NF) 295A, fos. 182–3, 2 2 December. No reasons were given to Ubaldini for the subsequent delay.

33 Martène, Histoire de St Maur, i. 23–6, for the text of the letter, dated May 1614.

34 Recueil des actes, titres el mémoires concernant les affaires du clergé de France, Paris 1768–71, xiii. cols. 1146, 1154–5 (1595), cols. 1170, 1181–2 (1606)Google Scholar.

35 On the making of the Tridentine decrees, cf. Jedin, ‘Zur Vorgeschichte der Regularenreform', 231ff, and Jedin, H., Geschichte des Konzils von Trient, Freiburg 1949–75, iv. pt. 2, chs viiviiiGoogle Scholar.

36 Recueil des actes, xiii. cols. 1288ff.

37 Ibid., cols. 1351ff.

38 This text figures in ‘Advis VII'; there is no pagination in the pamphlet.

39 Anatipophile Benedictin aux pieds du Roy et de la Royne pour la reformation de l'Ordre de St Benoist en ce Royaume, par un père d'un noviciat de l'observance reformèe (1615), 80ff.

40 Cf. Blet, Pierre, Le Clergé de France el la monarchic, Rome 1959, i. ch. ivGoogle Scholar.

41 Mémoires de Mathieu Molé, ed. Champollion-Figeac, A., Paris 1855–7, i. 174ff, 194Google Scholar.

42 B.N., MS Fr. 18012, fo. 253, Archbishop Marquemont of Lyon to Louis XIII, 24 April 1618.

43 Remerciemenls des Benedklins au Roy Tres-Chreslien Louys XIII de France el de Navarre sur la proposition faicte par S.M. en l'Assemblée de Rouen de remettre les Abbayes en regularité.

44 Rochefoucauld, G. de La, Le Cardinal François de La Rochefoucauld, Paris 1926Google Scholar, is the only full-length study of him.

45 La nunziatura di Francia di Guido di Bentivoglio (hereafter cited as Nunziatura), ed. Luigi di Steffani, Florence 1863–70, ii. 188, 215; iii. 158–9, 518–19, for the various expedients suggested between 1618 and 1620.

46 La Rochefoucauld, Le Cardinal, 196.

47 Mariéjol, J. H., Henri IV et Louis XIII (Histoire de France, ed. Lavisse, Ernest, vol. vi, part 2), Paris 1911, 200–1Google Scholar.

48 Mémoires de Mole, i. 220.

49 Gallia Christiana, vii. col. 774.

50 B.S.G., MS 611, fo. 53v; Oroux, Abbé, Histoire ecclésiasliquc de la com de France, Paris 1777, ii. 351Google Scholar; La Rochefoucauld, Le Cardinal, 175–7.

51 B.S.G., MS 621, fos. 579–80, text of the bull.

52 Ibid., fos. 581–8, text of the brevet.

53 This emerges from his letters to Jean Desbois, his secretary, dated 27 and 31 July: B.S.G., MS 3275, fos. 606, 607.

54 Nunziatura, iii. 412–13, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 30 July.

55 B.S.G., MS 3238, fos. 343–4, memorandum to Louis xiii, 1 September.

56 B.S.G., MS 607, fos. 70r–71v, ‘avis par articles touchant la réformation des réguliers de France'. This and the next document were copied by Claude du Molinet, librarian of Sainte-Genevieve, into his manuscript history of the abbey and its reform. But historians have remained unaware of these documents because they have hitherto used MS 611, of which MS 607 is an earlier draft. Du Molinet omitted them from the final version of his work on the grounds that they were too long!

57 MS 607, fos. 72r–73r.

58 Ibid., fo. 73r.

59 Advis pour la reforme ei nourriture des religieux a qui Sa Majeste voudroil donner Us abbayes de leur ordre. This document is printed after the Remerciement des Benedictins cited above, n. 43.

60 Nunciature, iii. 500, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 11 September.

61 Ibid., iii. 515, to same, 15 September. The ecclesiastical commissioners now proposed were Retz, La Rochefoucauld, Archbishop Marquemont of Lyon, Charles Miron, former bishop of Angers, Bishop de L'Estang of Carcassonne, Jean Arnoux, S.J., Honoré Champigny, a Capuchin, Dom Veny d'Arbouze, grand prior of Cluny, Dom Bénard and Dom Adam Ogier, Carthusian.

62 B.S.G., MS 3249, fo. 128, Archbishop Marquemont to La Rochefoucauld, 29 October 1619.

63 B.N., MS Fr. 17364, pp. 225–6, undated copy of the king's letter to Coeuvres. His letter to the pope exists only in the form of a ‘supplicatio' translated into Italian: Ferrara, Archivio di Stato (hereafter A.S.F.), fondo Bentivoglio 18/14, no. 7, no date.

64 B.S.G., MS 611, fos. 56–9, a detailed résumé of the instruction made by Claude du Molinet.

65 B.N., MS Fr. 18014, fos. 5–6, Coeuvres to Louis XIII, 3 Jan. 1620.

66 Ibid., fo. 13, letter to Puysieux, secretary of state, 11 Jan.

67 A.V., NF 299, Borghese to Bentivoglio, 20 Jan. A truncated version of this letter was published in Nunziatura, iv. 116–18. Zakar, Histoirc de la stride observance, 146–9, prints the full text from an unsigned copy in the Vatican Archives. The date is given, incorrectly, as 10 Jan. in Nunziatura, where it is also claimed that Paul v later granted the commission.

68 No trace has been found of this brief.

69 B.N., MS Fr. 17364, p. 273, undated copy of the letter, but probably late January or early February 1620.

70 Nunziatura, iv. 140–1, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 26 Feb. 1620; ibid., 169: ‘Il cardinale della Rochefoucault, particolarmente, si riscaldò assai nella matiera, come quello che vi ha la piu parte d'ogni altro: onde io fu costretto di esporgli appieno tutte le ragioni scrittemi da V.S. Illma, ch'egli volse ventilar meco tutte con grande esatezza.'

71 Ibid., iv. 168–72, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 25 March 1620.

72 Ibid., iv. 173, second letter of 25 March.

73 A.V., NF 299, fo. 32, Borghese to Bentivoglio, 11 April; ibid., fos. 43ff, to same, 6 June; Nunziatura, iv. 219, 235, 245–6, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 6 and 20 May.

74 Nunziatura, iv. 309, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 1 July. Balthazar was well known to La Rochefoucauld, the most pro-Jesuit of French prelates. But no trace of his papers has survived.

75 Ibid., iv. 441–2, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 20 October 1620.

76 B.N., MS Fr. 17364, p. 325, undated letter to Coeuvres, but probably late J u ly 1620. This dating seems to be confirmed by Borghese's letter to Bentivoglio of 23 August, in which he refers to Balthazar's mission: ‘non ha ancora parlato del negotio della riforma delli ordini regolari': A.S.F., fondo Bentivoglio 18/20, no. 139.

77 B.S.G., MS 611, fos. 59–60, résumé of the instructions.

78 B.N., MS Fr. 18014, fo. 382, Coeuvres to Puysieux, 27 August.

79 Nunziatura, iv. 480, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 1 December.

80 B.N., MS Fr. 18014, fo. 675V, Coeuvres to Puysieux, early December.

81 Nunziatura, iv. 487, Bentivoglio to Borghese, 1 December.

82 One of Borghese's last instructions to Bentivoglio makes it clear that Paul v was determined to the end not to make any concessions: A.S.F., fondo Bentivoglio 18/15, fo. 399, letter of 10 Jan. 1621.

83 Cf. Jedin, H., Handbuch der Kirchengeschichle, Freiburg 1967, v. 654Google Scholar.

84 A.V., NF 57, fos. 17–19. Extracts of the instruction arc printed in Zakar, Histoire de la stride observance, 151–2.

85 No trace of Sourdis' instructions on this point has been found, but he refers to them in a letter to Louis xiii on 2 June 1621: B.N., MS Fr. 18016, fo. 159.

86 B.A.V., MS Barberini latini 8055, fos. 149–52, letter to Cardinal Ludoviso, 22 March.

87 B.N., MS Fr. 18018, fo. 2i8v, Sourdis to Puysieux, 9 April 1622. Sourdis merely commented laconically that this was an ‘ouvrage commence par monsr. le marquis de Coeuvres et poursuivy six mois soubs le pontificat de deux papes, lequel n'a peu esclore qu'a ceste heure'. A letter from Sourdis to La Rochefoucauld has not survived.

88 The full text of the brief is printed in Zakar, Histoire de la stride observance, 155–7. Numerous copies of it have survived in French libraries.

89 The copy of the patents used here is the printed one to be found in B.S.G., MS 3240, fos. 6–9. The royal commissioners were Retz, Archbishop Hébert of Bourges, Bishops Sanguin of Senlis and Miron of Angers; councillors of state Châteauneuf, Roissy, Jeannin, Marillac and Aligre; and maîtres des requêtes Lezeau and La Poterie.

90 The history and role of the conseil privi for this period are very confused. But there can be no doubt about the capacity in which the royal commissioners acted, since their decisions and judgments are to be found among the fonds of the conseil privé in the Archives Nationales in Paris, under the series number V 6.

91 B.A.V., MS Barberini latini 7952, fo. 18, letter to Cardinal Ludoviso, 20 June 1622. The letter itself does not specify the actual criticisms, which were listed in a separate memorandum which has not been found.