The papacy had suffered. The martyrdom began under Clement XIII about 1759, and continued through the pontificates of his three successors, of whom the first was wrongly supposed to be poisoned and the next two were carried prisoner to France. Bourbon kings bullied Clement XIII, Clement XIV, and Pius VI; a Corsican conqueror bullied Pius VI and Pius VII; but it was almost more agonizing to be bullied as a Pope in Rome than as a Pope in exile; and exile brought international sympathy while agony in Rome brought none. The martyrdom continued until Pius VII returned to Rome as one of the 'victors' in the long wars.
This martyr-status was a condition of what happened in the nineteenth century. The status consisted of more than two Popes in exile. That exile stood as a symbol of European suffering, murders, executions, shooting of hostages, pollution of churches, the horror of guerrilla war. The Pope was a known confessor who represented thousands of martyrs unknown and forgotten.
His office was elevated, not in political power, for there he lost rights steadily; but in the feeling of ordinary faithful worshippers.
His office was also elevated ecclesiastically, by the fall of his possible peers. In the old world the bishop who towered nearest to the Pope in worldly prestige was the Archbishop of Mainz; next to him, the Archbishops of Cologne and Trier and Salzburg. Now the Bishop of Mainz was less important than the Archbishops of Paris or Toledo or Vienna. The French bishops were stipendiaries of the State; the Spanish bishops were troubled by division and civil war; the Archbishop of Vienna lived under a Josephist government. The Pope of the old world stood above his fellow bishops, but not always far above. In the new world he stood head and shoulders above everyone.
The Revolution hurt Catholic episcopalianism even more than it hurt Popes.
Europe wanted peace, and order. Part of stability was respect for historic institutions. This feeling benefited the papacy; but only in one direction.