of church land had a number of political advantages. In France, it was a means of staving off government bankruptcy. Elsewhere - in Italy, for instance - it could give the French invaders revenue that they needed to fight their wars. The French, though, were not the only ones who profited from confiscating church property. In Germany, both the Protestant rulers of Prussia and the Catholic rulers of Bavaria were eager to lay their hands on the church's assets; the French invasion and the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire facilitated their task.
The secularization had a devastating effect on education and charity in some Catholic regions, particularly in Germany, where it wiped out eighteen Catholic universities as well as schools that hadbeen supported by monasteries. The effect was a lasting one, for little of the secularized property was returned the church during the Restoration. Secularization also affected what we might call the market for 'careers' in the Catholic Church, at least at the highest levels, for there were no longer large numbers of high income benefices that could be reserved for nobles and political insiders. Most patronage was now gone, and bishops had more say about where priests were to be assigned. Lucrative benefices that had once attracted a disproportionate number of Catholic clergymen to cities were now suppressed, making the priesthood less attractive, at least to some candidates. That may be one of the causes (though certainly not the only one) for a decline in ordinations observed in some parts of Catholic Europe in the late eighteenth century. The loss of wealth harmed other professions as well. In Germany, prince-bishops and their courts disappeared, meaning fewer jobs for 'musicians, librarians, painters, [and] architects'.2
One thing that loss of the church's property did not affect, however, was agriculture, even though much of the property the church lost was farm land. Although one might imagine this land would be farmed more effectively by its new lay owners, nothing of the sort happened, and for a good reason: the monasteries, churches, and other ecclesiastical institutions that had owned the property before nationalization had already been working it efficiently. Most of the church property was rented out, and churches and monasteries administered their property just as adeptly as secular landlords. They developed the expertise needed to manage property well and with their wealth they could make investments and also take on some risks. Around Paris, for example, the Cathedral of Notre Dame leased its farms to the highest bidder, but it was careful not to squeeze so much from its tenants that they would be ruined. Like a good landlord, the cathedral knew that it should reward good tenants and cut them some slack if weather destroyed crops. Its practices here followed the advice given by early modern experts and fit what a modern economist
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