The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

5

THE CHURCH AND THE REVOLUTIONARY STATE

The debate on Church reform, May 1790

There was widespread agreement in the cahiers on the need for extensive reform to the Church, resulting in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy voted on 12 July 1790. There was no question of separating Church and State: the public functions of the Church were assumed to be integral to daily life, and the Assembly accepted that public revenues would support the Church financially after the abolition of the tithe. Most contentious, however, was the issue of how the clergy were to be appointed in future. To the trenchant objections from clerical deputies in the Assembly that the hierarchy of the Church was based on the principle of divine authority and on inspired appointment by superiors, other deputies retorted that this had resulted in nepotism.

THE ARCHBISHOP OF AIX: Does the ecclesiastical committee know how useful is the influence of religion on citizens? It is the brake that stops the wicked, it is encouragement for virtuous men. Religion is the seal on this declaration that provides man with his rights and his freedom; it is steadfast in its dogmas; its morals cannot change, and its doctrine will always be the same. The committee wishes to remind the clergy of the purity of the original Church. It is not bishops, successors to the apostles, it is not pastors, responsible for preaching the gospel, who can reject this method; but since the committee reminds us of our duties, it will allow us to remind it of our rights and of the sacred principles of ecclesiastical power. It must therefore be reminded of the essential authority of the Church; it is a question of the truths of religion. I will speak of them with all the confidence that befits ministers of the Lord. Jesus Christ passed on his mission to the apostles and to their successors for the salvation of the faithful; he entrusted it neither to the magistrates nor to the king; we are speaking of an order which magistrates and kings must obey. The mission that we

-43-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien RÉgime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the VendÉe 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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