Church and state in France

The Concordat of Bologna (1516) was an established and efficient protocol for the conduct of church-papal relations throughout the period with the Holy Father generally content to confirm royal nominations to dioceses. Failure to do so commonly led to temporary French military occupation of the Avignon and Venaissin enclaves. The Gallican church was, to all intents and purposes, a royal church, the model of a church-state polity to which every lesser Catholic monarch aspired. Despite possessing formidable structures of self-government (the quinquennial General Assembly of the Clergy was the most prestigious) and being exempted from direct taxation (it offered its own 'free gift', set at a rate and incidence of its choosing), the church was a dependent institution that looked to the monarchy for protection. It was not always forthcoming, but the majority of bishops and priests rarely faltered in their loyalty, even when the Gallican Articles of 1682 were discarded in favour of using the pope as an instrument to obtain the royal policy objective of crushing Jansenism. They well knew that the crown controlled senior appointments, and those higher clergy who sought a mitre had to exercise the arts of the courtier. Throughout the fifty-four years of his personal rule, Louis XIV had no regard for any version of Gallicanism that complicated the regalian authority of the sovereign. That stance enabled the King of France to pursue such classically non-Gallican policies as securing and then imposing the papal bull Unigenitus of 1713. After the king's death two years later, the content of Gallicanism would be interminably contested between the canonists and clergy on one side, and the lawyers and magistrates on the other.

Louis XIV's determination to act as the model of a Catholic king was inconsistent and less persuasive than he cared to admit. He was under pressure from the General Assembly of the Clergy to eliminate the legal existence of the Huguenot faith in his realm and the king was sympathetic to this broad objective. Protestants couldbe conveniently presented as republicans as well as heretics. On the other hand, as recently as 1662 Louis had rewarded Protestant loyalty during the Fronde with a royal declaration confirming the toleration granted at Nantes in 1598. After the Peace of Nijmegen in 1679, Louis backtracked and made it a domestic priority to cancel the Edict of Nantes, and in 1685 the deed was done. The king was acclaimed by a chorus of Gallican bishops with Bossuet of Meaux in the vanguard, but Catholic opinion outside France was either unimpressed or hostile. The vicious campaign of 'persuasion' visited on the Huguenots in the early 1680s was anathema to progressive opinion and reawakened interest in the possibility of toleration as an act of

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