basis. By 1880, the ground had been prepared for a renewal of open hostilities between the church and a republican state.

It should be stressed that the breach was a long time in the making and that it was not necessarily destined to end in the separation of church and state. Nevertheless, tensions were apparent from the Restoration, which renewed the alliance of throne and altar, especially after Charles X - the chief Ultra -was crowned king at Rheims in 1824 with medieval pomp and ceremony to symbolise the indissoluble bond between church and state. The Sacrilege Law of 1825, by which sacrilege was made a crime punishable by death, was another spectacular symbolic gesture guaranteed to affront the liberal conscience of the age. (The rationale for the law was that desecration of the sacred Host equated to the murder of the body of Christ, which, as the liberal Royer-Collard observed, effectively wrote the doctrine of the Real Presence into the Constitution.) But nowhere was the influence of the church more apparent -or resented - than in the field of education. A leading ecclesiastic, Mgr Frayssinous, was appointed minister of education and of ecclesiastical affairs, with a remit to give a distinctly Catholic bias to education at all levels. Bishops were empowered to appoint all teachers in primary schools and they also acquired new rights of supervision in secondary schools. In the higher sector, Frayssinous shamelessly appointed priests to key posts and brought sanctions against dissident professors at the Sorbonne such as Francois Guizot and Victor Cousin. He was even prepared to shut the Ecole Normale Superieure and the Medical School. In view of such measures, the anticlerical backlash which accompanied the Revolution of 1830 was entirely predictable.

Ironically, the advent of the liberal July Monarchy in 1830 gradually effected a marked improvement in church-state relations. The new regime distanced itself from any overt support for the church, but in the face of mounting social unrest and political opposition it increasingly appreciated the church as a bastion of social order: for the Protestant Francois Guizot, the towering ministerial figure of the age, the church was 'the greatest, the holiest school of respect which the world has ever seen'.2 What eventually disturbed the harmony which had been achieved by 1840 was the launch of Montalembert's campaign for 'freedom of education', a liberal ideal enshrined in the 1830 Charter but one which militant lay Catholics (the church hierarchy was much less enthusiastic) interpreted as the right to establish their own schools and universities entirely free from state controls. Opposition to the monopole de

2 P. Thureau-Dangin, L'├ęglise et l'├ętat sous la monarchie de juillet (Paris: Plon, 1880), p. 93.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment