relatively easy. Most ofthe strongest oath-takingzones (includingthe expanded Parisian Basin and much of central France, as well as the previously mentioned regions) were also areas in which the clergy was relatively sparse and where solitary curés, with only limited links to an ecclesiastical society, tended to identify much more fully with the lay society in which they lived. Most of the predominantly 'refractory' regions had much denser concentrations of ecclesi-astics-areality that may also explain the high rejection rate in most of the large towns. Several of the refractory regions (like Franche-Comte, Roussillon, and the provinces touching the Austrian Netherlands) were in frontier zones that had entered relatively late into the French realm and had retained a stronger ultramontane tradition from their long years under the Spanish Habsburgs. In Languedoc, as we have seen, the substantial Protestant presence pushed many people to identify the Civil Constitution itself with Protestantism and an attack on their Catholic faith. Many non-juring regions in western France (such as Brittany, Anjou, and parts of Poitou) had been the terrain of particularly vigorous and successful missionary activity in the eighteenth century, activities which may have oriented both clergy and laity towards a more traditional clerical and ultramontane view of Catholicism. Indeed, almost everywhere laypeople exerted pressure on the clergy to accept or reject the oath, with the oath ceremony providing the occasion for a de facto referendum on the general religious and secular policies of the Revolution.
Yet it is also evident from oath speeches preserved for individual priests that the jurors and non-jurors tended to favour two very different images of the priesthood itself. Many constitutionals placed an emphasis on the 'citizen priest', the servant of local society, with particular responsibilities as a cultural intermediary and a tutor for the economic and political life of the community. The reforms, they argued, had in no way touched the fundamental theological and spiritual aspects of religion, but were only concerned with reforming abuses in ecclesiastical organization and returning to the traditions of the early church. Refractories, on the contrary, viewed the National Assembly's decrees instituting the lay election of bishops and reorganizing the dioceses without the consent of the church as a transgression into spiritual matters over which the state had no authority. They tended rather to embrace a more traditional Tridentine conception of the priest as primarily a man of God, tightly linked to the lines of hierarchy and authority within the Roman Church.
Only in April and May 1791, after the clergy had already been compelled to take a stance, was the opinion of Pope Pius VI finally made public in France. Influenced in part by the French ambassador to Rome, a holdover from the
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