south of France in August 1799. After some months of confusion, a conclave of cardinals met in the Venetian lagoon and elected in 1800 a new pope, Luigi Chiaramonti, Bishop of Imola, who was widely believed to sympathize with the Revolution. The Catholic Austrian empire opposed the election and it was by no means clear that Chiaramonti, who took the name Pius VII, would be accepted as pope by the church at large. For some critics, the papacy seemed to be tottering.
In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte's seizure of power in France opened a new phase of violent upheaval in Europe. Napoleon restored the Catholic Church in France with the Concordat of 1801, which he extended to Belgium and the Rhineland; he negotiated a further Concordat for the Catholic Church in Italy in 1803-04. The concordats, however, gave his regime considerable control over the Catholic Church. In 1804, Napoleon raised himself, with the pope's sanction, to the imperial throne. Napoleon's victories in Germany, meanwhile, led to fundamental territorial revisions, including the abolition of ecclesiastical states and the redrawing of political boundaries without reference to the confessional identities of populations. The old formula of 'cuius regio eius religio' ceased to have meaning; the political-religious order that had prevailed since the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 came to an end. In 1806, the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire closed a millennium of European history.
Amid the unprecedented assault on Christianity and unparalleled social and political upheavals, many in Europe turned to Scripture, and especially scriptural prophecy, in the search for meaning behind the events. Some saw the victories of the French armies, the weakening of the papacy, and the elevation of a Corsican adventurer to an imperial throne as signs and wonders that according to Scripture would presage the Second Coming of Christ in glory and the beginning of the millennium of rule by the saints. New prophetic voices were heard. In France, there had been millenarian currents before the Revolution, associated with cells of Convulsionaries, charismatic elements of the Jansenist movement that met quietly for prayer, devotion, and the study of unfulfilled biblical prophecy. Their influence extended beyond France. In the 1780s and early 1790s, one such group, the Avignon Society, attracted enthusiasts from throughout Europe for the study of biblical prophecy.
There were prophetic and millenarian movements in England, and especially London, from the later 1780s. Some visionaries, including two London artisans who had lived for several months with the Avignon Society, embraced the mystical writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg, the Swedish natural philosopher who had died in London in 1772. The Church of the New Jerusalem, inspired by Swedenborg's teachings, was established in London in 1787, and spread
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