ON THE EVE OF THE CONCORDAT
FOR an understanding of the circumstances in which the Concordat of 1801 was negotiated, it will be unnecessary here to pause upon the ecclesiastical legislation of the first democratic assemblies in France which had divided the Gallican Church into warring camps. Suffice it to say that when the First Consul began negotiating with the Pope, there were several religious parties in France claiming allegiance in some form or other to the Roman Catholic Church. There were, roughly, the Constitutionals, those who had acknowledged the Civil Constitution of the clergy as legal and binding upon the French Church; and there were the non-jurors, those who refused to regard the Constitution of 1790 as valid. But those two rough divisions do not begin to indicate the many conflicting views that had rent asunder the ancient Gallican Communion which Bonaparte was anxious to piece together again.
In the ranks of those who had set themselves in opposition to the government's ecclesiastical policy in 1790, namely, the non-jurors, there was no great show of unity. This party early divided on the question as to what lengths they ought to go in their opposition to the tactics of the Revolution. The oath demanded of the clergy on July 14, 1790, was not at first opposed by them all.1 This oath read, "I swear to be faithful to the nation and to the law, and to maintain to the utmost of my power the Constitution decreed by the____________________