Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

28
Decree on the Confiscation of Church Property November 2, 1789

The French Revolution began against the background of a bankrupt state. Financial necessity thus combined with philosophe anticlericalism and radical Gallicanism to secure passage of this measure by a vote of 568 to 346. (The tithe had earlier been confiscated in the August decrees.) Yet opposition was strong. Some of the cahiers had proposed reorganization of church wealth, but not confiscation. Opponents argued that the church held land in trust for the performance of educational and charitable work and that confiscation would jeopardize all security of property. The National Assembly was unwilling to implement the decree at once, but eventually it led to the thorough reform of the maintenance of religion embodied in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

The National Assembly decrees,

1st, That all ecclesiastical properties are at the disposal of the nation, on condition that suitable provision be made for the expenses of worship, the support of ministers, and poor relief under the supervision and according to the instructions of the provinces;

2nd, That in the provision to be made for the support of ministers of religion not less than twelve hundred livres per annum be assured for the endowment of each living, exclusive of dwelling and gardens attached thereto.

Source: Jean B. Duvergier (ed.), Collection complète des lois, décrets, ordonnances, règlements, avis du conseil d'état ( Paris, 1834- 1906), 1, 54-55.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

R. Aubert et al., The Church between Revolution and Restoration ( New York, 1981), pp. 11-50.

A. Aulard, Christianity and the French Revolution ( London, 1927).

A. Dansette, Religious History of Modern France ( Freiburg, Germany, 1961), 1, 1-157.

A. Debidour, Histoire des rapports de l' église et de l''état en France de 1789 à 1870 ( Paris, 1898), pp. 1-323.

P. de la Gorce, Histoire religieuse de la Révolution française ( Paris, 1909- 1923).

J. P. Joshua and C. Geffre, 1789: the French Revolution and the Church ( Edinburgh, 1989).

A. Latreille, L'Église catholique et la Révolution française ( Paris, 1946).

C. Ledré, L'Église de France sous la Révolution ( Paris, 1949).

J. Leflon, La crise révolutionnaire, 1789-1846 ( Paris, 1949), pp. 17-273.

-75-

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