The Church in the Republic: Gallicanism and Political Ideology in Renaissance France

By Kelley, Donald | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2006 | Go to article overview
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The Church in the Republic: Gallicanism and Political Ideology in Renaissance France


Kelley, Donald, The Catholic Historical Review


The Church in the Republic: Gallicanism and Political Ideology in Renaissance France. By Jotham Parsons. (Washington, D.C.:The Catholic University of America Press. 2004. Pp. xiv, 322. $59.95.)

Gallicanisni was self-invented, as early modern scholars began to construct its documented history as weE as to formulate its basic principles. According to one story, it began as a movement of "reform," especially in the wake of the Great Schism, although it had a prehistory going back centuries to the primitive church and the conflict between church and state. It was given its modern form in 1510, when Louis XII, drawing on earlier precedents, caEed a council, but of the clergy, which "declar[ed] that there was no reason the king could not fight a just was against the pope" (Julius II). The council was a failure, but authors of many sorts began to pour forth a steady stream of rhetoric, beginning with Jean Lemaire des Belges and continuing especially with the learned jurists of the day, their erudite humanism creating what Parsons calls "a new historicist Gallicanism" that carried political theory down a road different from the secularism of Machiavelli and Hobbes. After the "Gallican crisis of 1551" began the stream of long accumulated "Gallican liberties," collected first by Jean du Tillet, Pierre Pithou, Charles Dumoulin, and their successors into the seventeenth century and the time of Bishop Bossuet. "By the time that Henry IV had consolidated his power, then," according to the author, "a Gallicanism had appeared on the scene that was based on historical research and narrative. . . ." It had also divided the three estates.

The controversial story of Gallicanism has been told in many ways, but the later phase has usually been avoided.

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