Info

families of origin. With few economic options, nuns in particular tended to remain together and even to re-establish clandestine convents. The laity felt the loss of convents that had provided charitable and medical aid. Italian confraternities had frequently been allied with religious orders and now could become focal points for resistance against French integration. In Turin, for example, the aristocratic confraternity of Saint Paul and the more populist Saint Francis confraternity became strongholds of opposition to the new prefect, while the Association of Christian Friendship circulated anonymous tracts against the Concordat.

At the same time, some secular authorities cracked down on all sorts of popular religious practices that were considered either superstitious or disorderly. When Napoleon called a national church council in 1811, its formal document, 'Views on the organization of Catholic worship', summarized official attitudes: it was the duty of the church 'to lend a hand in the eradication of superstitious practices, those shameful leftovers of medieval barbarism'. Napoleon's own attitude was pragmatic; he was scornful of popular religion, but had more interest in maintaining social and religious order than in repressing specific beliefs. Many of his administrators nonetheless worked hard to eradicate local festivals, suppress pilgrimages, reduce the number of saints' days, and close down confraternities. Authorities who remembered the divisive 1790s in France moved with caution. French administrators in the Rhineland, for example, chose local religious feast days to celebrate new revolutionary festivals. But some tactics were blatantly insensitive: one French official worried that the adjutant-general in Rome had created unnecessary offence by galloping 'with twenty-four dragoons through a canonization ceremony of some new saints'.10 Napoleonic policies fostered a defiant defence of outdoor processions, healing rituals, clandestine confraternities, Marian devotional practices, and saints' cults.

The Napoleonic attempt to institute religious toleration also proved deeply controversial. Certain groups, such as Dutch Catholics, Protestant minorities in former German bishoprics, and Jews in many locations, stood to benefit from this innovation. Two factors, however, made the process especially difficult to implement. First, local animosities between sects ran deep. If subgroups of Protestants and Catholics often viewed each other with profound suspicion, the emancipation of the Jews was particularly resented and resisted across the empire. Only Westphalia attempted to bring about full emancipation. Second, the Napoleonic agenda combined legal toleration with a drive towards rationalizing religious organizations and creating legal uniformity. As Stuart Woolf has argued, this process ran roughshod over complex social

0 0

Post a comment