views updated May 29 2018


GALLICANISM. The term "Gallicanism," coined in the early nineteenth century, defines a conception of church-state relations that developed in early modern France and subsequently influenced other European countries. This conception, medieval in origin, was based on two principles: separation of powers, which protected the state from any intervention from the papacy, and constitutionalism, which submitted the pope to the authority of church canons. The word also applies to an interpretation of Catholicism that places the pope under the authority of the church represented by the general council and rejects his personal infallibility.


Negotiated in 1516, the Concordat of Bologna between Francis I and Pope Leo X formed the legal base of church-state relations in early modern France: the papacy gave the monarchy control of most benefices, bishoprics, and abbeys, whose titulars were appointed by the king and approved by Rome. The Parlement of Paris resisted the agreement on the ground of fidelity to ancient laws, or "Gallican liberties." After its forced registration (1518), legists defended these liberties in their writings, constituting a body of references that established political Gallicanism.

Reviving a medieval tradition of resistance to the papacy and state control of the church, these authors collected traditions and precedents that asserted the independence of the French church and of the kings. Les libertés de l'église Gallicane (1594; The liberties of the Gallican church), by Pierre Pithou, a lawyer in the Paris Parlement, was reprinted and commented on by Pierre and Jacques Dupuy in Traité des droits et libertés de l'Église gallicane (Treatise on the rights and liberties of the Gallican church) and Preuves des droits et libertés de l'église Gallicane (Proofs of the rights and liberties of the Gallican church), published in 1639; its arguments were extended by Pierre Toussaint Durand de Maillane in 1771. Though an attempt to impose as a fundamental article (law of the kingdom) the absolute independence of the king in secular matters was defeated by the clergy at a meeting of the Estates-General in 1615, this principle was accepted by all French canonists and theologians, though with a lesser extension than applied by legists and civil servants.


Most French clerics shared the legists' respect for the ancient church, and they also sought state backing for the religious unification of the kingdom. However, they resented any form of lay control and needed papal authority to support the Catholic renewal that followed the Council of Trent. To counter this perceived shift from Gallican principles, Edmond Richer, the syndic (moderator) of the Sorbonne, the theological faculty of Paris, reissued works written during the conciliarist period by Pierre d'Ailly (1350c. 1420), Jean Charlier (Jean de Gerson, 13631429), and Jacques Almain (c. 14801515). Richer's extreme views, as expressed in the 1612 pamphlet Libellus de ecclesiastica et politica potestate (Booklet on ecclesiastical and political power), were rejected at that time, but theological Gallicanism subsisted in the faculty, expressed in a succession of pronouncements, the most important of which are the six Articles of 1663, an exposition of official doctrine on papal authority, and the censure of the book of Jacques Vernant, also known as the Carmelite Bonavendute d'Hérédie (16121667), that defended papal infallibility.

By that time, another form of Gallicanism had developed, which was also the revival of an ancient model: episcopal Gallicanism. This concept derived from the question of Jansenism. The French bishops who had asked Rome to arbitrate on the issue of the Dutch theologian Cornelus Otto Jansen (Cornelius Jansenius, 15851638) and the "Five Propositions" attempted to balance their recourse to papal authority by the assertion of their own. Following the precedent of the early African church, they claimed to "receive," that is, to approve, the papal condemnation. As papal infallibility was also claimed to support these pronouncements, more Gallican resistance followed, rejecting this personal privilege.

These separate developments converged in the Déclaration du Clergé de France sur la puissance ecclésiastique (Declaration of the French clergy on ecclesiastical power; March 1682), formulated at Louis XIV's request, by a special assembly of the French clergy. The intention was to pressure Pope Innocent XI on the dispute concerning the king's right (regalia) to administer a diocese during the vacancy of the see. Despite Louis's later recantation, the four articles of this declaration were to represent the official doctrine of the French church during the Old Regime.

The first article of the declaration concerned the separation of spiritual and secular powers, as noted above. The second admitted papal spiritual power but subjected it to the authority of general councils. The third article insisted that the exercise of papal power was regulated by the ancient canons and Gallican customs. The fourth acknowledged papal authority in matters of faith but rejected infallibility and demanded that in order to be irreformable his pronouncements receive the consent of the universal church.


In order to eradicate Jansenism, which had been revived by the works of Pasquier Quesnel (16341719), Louis XIV allied himself with pope Clement XI and secured the acceptation of the bull Unigenitus (1713). As some of the condemned propositions excerpted from the book dealt with Gallican principles, the issue of Unigenitus divided the Gallicans. On one side were the supporters of a condemnation requested by the king and accepted by the majority of bishops, on the other, those who rejected the censures and appealed to a future general council. From this perspective, a mutation happened that was to have serious consequence: Gallicanism divided into two branches. One, authoritarian Gallicanism, followed the hierarchical model and only transferred to the king or bishops the authority over the church claimed by the pope, being therefore a form of regalism or episcopalism. The other, participatory Gallicanism, reinterpreted the medieval concept, itself founded on Aristotle's Politics, which developed a democratic model structured on the notions of representation and reception. Representation is a process of formulation of truth that, starting from the community, moves through hierarchical authority in order to be expressed at the highest level; reception is the process of confirming and authenticating the decision. This reconstruction of classical university and parlement Gallicanism, applied first to the ecclesiastical structure, was soon transposed to the political level.

Though both reflected the 1682 articles, the two perspectives conflicted during the eighteenth century, ostensibly on the issue of Jansenism but in fact on that of absolutism, preparing the way for the French Revolution. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed by the National Assembly in 1790, was an application of participatory Gallicanism developed by Bishop Henri Grégoire and other "constitutional" bishops. The concordat negotiated by Napoléon Bonaparte and the Holy See in 1801 marked a return to political Gallicanism, without the balancing weight of episcopal Gallicanism.

See also Church and State Relations ; Jansenism .


Blet, Pierre. Le clergé du grand siècle en ses assemblées, 1615 1715. Paris, 1995.

Bouwsma, William. "Gallicanism and the Nature of Christendom." In his A Usable Past: Essays in European Cultural History. Berkeley, 1990. pp. 308324.

Gres-Gayer, Jacques M. Le Gallicanisme de Sorbonne. Paris, 2002.

Hayden, J. Michael. France and the Estates General of 1614. Cambridge, U.K., 1974.

Knecht, R. J. "The Concordat of 1516: A Reassessment." In Government in Reformation Europe, 15201560. Edited by Henry J. Cohn. London, 1971. Pp. 91112.

Lecler, J. "Qu'est-ce que les libertés de l'église Gallicane?" Revue des sciences religieuses 22 (1932): 385410, 542568; 24 (1934): 4787.

Martimort, Aimé Georges. Le Gallicanisme, Paris, 1973.

. Le Gallicanisme de Bossuet. Paris, 1953.

Martin, Victor. Le Gallicanisme et la réforme catholique. Paris, 1919.

. Le Gallicanisme politique et le clergé de France. Paris, 1929.

. Les origines du Gallicanisme. Paris, 1939.

Nelson, Eric W. "Defining the Fundamental Laws of France: The Proposed First Article of the Third Estate at the French Estates General of 1614." English Historical Review 115 (2000): 12161230.

Powis, Jonathan. "Gallican Liberties and the Politics of Later Sixteenth-Century France." Historical Journal 26 (1983): 515530.

Préclin, Emile. "Edmond Richer (15391631), sa vie, son oeuvre, le richérisme." Revue d'histoire moderne 55 (1930): 241269, 321336.

Puyol, Edmond. Edmond Richer: Étude historique et critique sur la rénovation du Gallicanisme au commencement du XVIIe siècle. 2 vols. Paris, 1876.

Van Kley, Dale K. The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: From Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 15601791. New Haven and London, 1996.

Jacques M. Gres-Gayer


views updated May 14 2018


A complex of theological and political doctrines, administrative and judicial practices, and religious passions, which characterized the life of the Catholic Church in france from the late Middle Ages to the French Revolution. The adjective Gallican, derived from the Latin gallicanus, was for a long time in common usage without connoting a doctrine suspected of heresy; it was not, however, a synonym for French except in a few expressions such as Gallican Breviary, Gallican Church, Gallican liturgy, Gallican Flanders, and the Gallican province of the Third Order of St. Francis. Gallicanisme was not introduced into the French language as a noun until c. 1900. Soon after this it appeared in other languages. It was a convenient word because it replaced several other expressions in use since the 15th century, such as "maxims and immunities of the Gallican Church." A lawyer in the Paris Parlement c. 1800, taking his inspiration from Pierre Pithou, began an article dealing with the liberties of the Gallican Church thus: "The word Libertés, which proclaims to servile ultramontane minds exorbitant privileges, merely denotes the ancient right common to all churches, which the French have succeeded in defending against the court of Rome with more steadfastness than the magistrates and doctors of other Catholic nations." This jurist merely echoed a tradition when he opposed Gallicanism to ultramontanism (opinions commonly held beyond the mountains, in Italy, and more precisely, those held by Roman theologians and canonists, who had only a small number of representatives in France). The defenders of the liberties of the Gallican Church were and wished to remain Catholics. There were, in fact, many ways of interpreting the term "liberties," and of utilizing them. "We have found far less evidence of a developing Gallican system than of Gallican systems that succeed one another" (M. Dubruel, Dictionnaire apologétique de la foi catholique 2:201); but this author and his collaborator, H. X. Arquillière, multiplied in this famous article, examples of successions and traced Gallicanism as far back as the Carolingian period (ibid. ). In any case, the best contemporary historian is explicit: "There is not one Gallicanism but Gallicanisms, so different are the interpretations of doctors, bishops, magistrates, and kings"(A. G. Martimort, Le Gallicanisme de Bossuet 7). If Gallicanism terminated with the end of the alliance between throne and altar during the french revolution of 1789, the revival during the 19th century of some theses dear to Gallicanism can be called neo-Gallicanism.

Despite the varieties of Gallicanism, Victor martin has attempted to establish a common source for all of them, which consisted of three basic ideas: independence of the king of France in the temporal order; superiority of general councils over the pope; and union of king and clergy in France to limit papal intervention within the kingdom, in the name of ancient canons (Les Origines du gallicanisme 1:7). This appeal to ancient canons, or to rights acquired in ancient times by the Church of France, seems to be the distinctive trait of a certain French anti-Romanism; it eliminated the possibility of confusing Gallicanism with other similar movements that were spreading over Europe long before the appearance of febronianism and josephinism.

Gallicanism is inseparable from a certain pride of French Catholicism. It did not believe in the donation of constantine. It knew that pepin iii, Charlemagne's father, helped Pope Stephen II (753) and had permitted him to lay the foundations for the states of the church. Since then, France has been called the eldest daughter of the Church, with St. Petronilla, daughter of St. Peter, as her patron saint. The king of France was consecrated with oil said to have been brought from heaven by an angel and believed to have the miraculous power of healing the king's evil (scrofula). He was not elected; he believed that his power came to him directly from God. "The king of France and the emperor are not one and the same thing," wrote an author in the service of King Charles V, in Le Songe du verger (1376). Independent of the emperor and an emperor in his own kingdom, the king claimed to be dependent on the pope only in spiritual matters, not at all in temporal affairs. The conflict of philip iv the Fair with Pope boniface viii demonstrated this in striking and brutal fashion.

First Manifestations (13981438). It was during the attempts to end the western schism that the ancient immunities of the Gallican Church were evoked and discovered. Following a national synod, Charles VI decided (July 27, 1398) to sever relations with Benedict XIII, the Avignon pope, and to do so without any recognition of Boniface IX as pope. The end of the royal ordinance read thus: "The king intends to take the necessary measures to make certain that in the future the Gallican Church will, under all circumstances, retain its original immunities and liberties to use them and enjoy them" (V. Martin, Origines 288289). In accord with his clergy, the king of France had, therefore, passed judgment on the pope (or at least on the one he thought to be pope), because this pontiff, too eager for money, was no longer fulfilling his proper function as servant of the common good of all the faithful. The national synod of 1398 was not a general council, but because of the dangers threatening the Church it was considered to be virtually a general council (V. Martin, Origines 1:283). The Church in France, which was making use of its original immunities to assume full liberty, freed itself from the demands of the papal treasury only to fall under royal fiscal control; it escaped papal abuses in the distribution of benefices only to submit its litigations to the Paris parlement. After undergoing other difficulties, the Church in France rejoiced to see the Western Schism terminated with the election of Pope Martin V (1417). But the ancient immunities and privileges, which were used merely as an expedient during a crucial period, became, as Charles VI had desired, a permanent institution.

The desire to end abuses once again brought about a national synod, this time at Bourges, to legislate as a general council. A royal ordinance, the pragmatic sanction (1438), collected the decisions concerning the authority of general councils, the conferring of benefices, elections, expectancies, appeals, annates, the celebration of Divine Office, and other ecclesiastical matters (F.A. Isambert, Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises 9:347). According to the Pragmatic Sanction ecumenical councils must convene every 10 years, as the Councils of constance and basel had ordained; an ecumenical council is superior to the pope; bishops must be elected by cathedral chapters, and abbots, by their abbeys. Some of these articles undoubtedly anticipated the reform work of the Council of trent a century later, but the Pragmatic was a document of debatable canonical value and also a condemned one; yet it had considerable value. Members of the parlements, who were charged with supervising the observance of the Pragmatic, long regarded it as the special constitution of the Gallican Church. Doctors on the various faculties of theology were wary of it for fear lest graduates lose their privileges, which allowed them to obtain benefices more easily than could other clerics. Bishops were of two minds about it. They approved the independence it afforded the Church in France; but they did not like it when they were themselves elected by chapters and then found these chapters too powerful. (see conciliarism.)

Ramifications of Gallicanism (14381594). Gallicanism assumed several different aspects: rigid among members of the parlements, nuanced among theologians, hesitant among bishops, and opportunist among kings.

Gallicanism of Parlement. As guardians of the holy decrees of the Gallican Church and of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges members of the parlements wished to establish their own courts as a supreme ecclesiastical court and as the necessary intermediary between the national Church and the pope. Every summons to Rome, omisso medio, was considered by them an abuse. No papal document and no papal legate could enter France without the consent of the Paris parlement. In 1465 this parlement presented the king with a remonstrance composed of 89 articles. In them it was sorrowful as it recalled the years from 1407 to 1439, but joyful as it evoked the years from 1439 to 1461 (the year in which Louis XI suppressed the Pragmatic). During this latter period, it claimed, the Pragmatic had brought prosperity to the king and his kingdom and rendered the Church in France illustrious with saintly prelates and numerous miracles. To repeal it, according to articles 18 and 19 of the remonstrance, would expose both king and kingdom to every evil, and especially to four: the whole ecclesiastical order would be thrown into confusion (art. 2061); the kingdom would become depopulated (art. 6266); the currency would be sent abroad (art. 6780); and all dioceses would be ruined (art. 8189). It was held necessary, therefore, to maintain "the freedom of elections and the exoneration of the Church from the heavy burden of annates" (E. Maugis, Histoire du Parlement de Paris de l'avènement des rois Valois à la mort d'Henri IV [Paris 1913] 1:707708). Logical in its own interests, parlement opposed the official registration of the concordat of 1516 and had to be compelled before it registered the pact in 1518. Its remonstrances of 157980, for example, still pleaded for the reestablishment of the Pragmatic as something very praiseworthy and desired by all royal subjects (ibid. 1:710).

Theological Gallicanism. Just as the Parlement of Paris set the tone for the other parlements, so the Faculty of Theology of the University of paris set the tone for the provincial universities. Its doctors were the spiritual heirs of peter of ailly and Jean gerson, who played a decisive role at the Council of Constance and contributed to ending the Western Schism. These doctors revered the pope, but above all they loved the Church. They believed that a pope might err but not the Church. To the latter, united in general council, "each one owes obedience, no matter what rank or dignity he may hold, even papal." This decree of the fifth session of the Council of Constance was one that met with unanimous approval among French theologians. They liked to repeat, with St. Jerome, "orbis major est urbe." University, or theological, Gallicanism claimed that if the papal power was not limited in itself, it was in its use and exercise by natural law, by the very constitution of the Church, and by the ancient statutes that governed various churches. "We do not read," said Gerson, "that Christ conferred on the pope the power to dispose of benefices, dignities, bishoprics, domains, or ecclesiastical properties. We read nowhere that Peter ever exercised this power." (P. Imbart de la Tour, Les Origines de la Réforme 2:7783; Martimort, op. cit. 1756). This tradition was presented by French bishops at the Council of Trent, but it nearly disappeared later as a consequence of the Counter Reformation. In 1611 the Syndic of the Faculty of Theology of Paris, Ed. Richer revived it in order to oppose ultramontanism. His extreme views were rejected but theological Gallicanism subsisted in the faculty, expressed in a succession of pronouncements, the most important of which are the Six Articles of 1663, the source of the 1682 Gallican Articles, and the censure of J. Vernant (1664), "the most somplete synthesis of what the faculty achieved againts the Ultramontanes for many centuries" (A. G. Martimort, Le gallicanisme de Bossuet 245). It was renewed by the opponents to the bull Unigenitus and was eventually condemned by Auctorem fidei.

Episcopal Gallicanism. French theologians spoke rarely of the liberties of the Gallican Church but the bishops made much of them. They claimed for themselves the exercise of a threefold liberty: administrative, permitting them to deliberate among themselves, especially in provincial councils; fiscal, allowing them to levy taxes (tithes) and to dispose of the income; and judicial, giving them the right to have diocesan officials and to be the sole judges of fellow bishops, when these have failed to fulfill their duties. Should parlements encroach on episcopal jurisdiction, the prelates appealed to the king's council, nor did they overlook the pope. In the 15th century an archbishop of Toulouse composed a whole treatise against the validity of the Pragmatic and in favor of papal supremacy, while an archbishop of Tours published another treatise, Contre la constitution impie des Gallicans appellée Pragmatique. In 1487 the bishop of Autun published some papal bulls without having them officially registered and invited the clergy and faithful to obey them. Two years later, the bishop of Luçon refused to have certain briefs revoked; in 1491 the bishop of Beauvais placed a papal interdict on the lands of the priests belonging to the Archdiocese of Narbonne. Others accepted mandates from delegated judges, general collectors of tithes. After the Council of Trent, the bishops came into conflict with statesmen. The conviction that further entreaties were useless led the bishops to distinguish between the role of a prince and the duties of the episcopate. It was, then, the struggle precipitated in France by the introduction of the Tridentine reforms that allowed for the acceptance of the "separating of powers:" the religious power, the guide of consciences, whose domain is the supernatural; and the civil power, engaged mainly with temporal affairs and endowed with physical force to put its will into effect.

Royal Gallicanism. After the appearance of the Pragmatic Sanction, the king sought much less to keep aloof from the pope than to negotiate with him; but the royal motivation was more self-interest than religion. In 1442 Charles VII agreed to renounce the Pragmatic and to conclude a concordat with Pope Eugene IV. Negotiations broke down, but reopened in 1449. King Louis XI made known to Pope Pius II his intention of abrogating the Pragmatic (1461) and proclaimed its abrogation in 1462. But the ordinances issued in 1463 and 1466 nullified the significance of this spectacular act. After Louis XI came to an understanding with Pope Sixtus IV (1472), a concordat, which remained in force for three years, provided that major benefices should be at the king's disposal, while minor benefices should be conferred by the pope in the uneven months and by the king in the even months. After 1475 the king avoided the strict application of the Pragmatic and allowed electors to select their own candidates. After a new attempt at a concordat (1485), King Francis I and Pope Leo X signed at Bologna in 1516 a concordat that was observed until 1790. This concordat put an end to the Pragmatic, which had been praised as "the palladium of national liberties." The concordat granted the king in perpetuity the unique privilege of naming to consistorial benefices but said nothing about the papal right to collect annates. Later papal demands that the Tridentine decrees be received officially in France went unheeded. The kings could no doubt have overcome the obstinacy of the parlements. It was not fear of excessive papal power that deterred them but rather the fear of being deprived of the privilege of commendation. The Blois ordinance (1579) tried to introduce a part of the Tridentine reform into French legislation but Pope Gregory XIII could not allow France once again to legislate as in 1438.

Pithou. Pierre pithou, a lawyer in the Paris parlement, published in 1594 a 54-page treatise (Les Libertés de l'Église gallicane ) that had astounding success well into the 19th century. This booklet was divided into 83 articles. This catalogue of propositions, arranged to attract French readers, was doubtless less logical than was claimed in article three where the author affirmed that all the following liberties stemmed from two maxims only: "The first is that the popes can neither command nor ordain anything, be it general or particular, that bears on the temporal affairs of countries or lands under obedience to the Most Christian King, and should they command or decree any such thing, the subjects of the king, even though they be clerics, are therefore not bound to obey" (art. 4); "The second, although the pope is recognized as sovereign in spiritual matters, nevertheless absolute and infinite power has no place in France, but is restricted and limited by the canons and rules of the ancient councils of the Church accepted in this kingdom" (art. 5). To exemplify these maxims Pithou continued: "The prelates of France may not leave the kingdom without his majesty's permission" (art. 13). "The king's officers cannot be excommunicated for the exercise of their duties" (art. 16). "The bull In coena Domini is not accepted in France" (art. 17). "The Church of France does not accept all the decretals" (art. 41).

Pierre Dupuy (15821651), state counselor and curator of the royal library, republished Pithou's book as part of Traitez des droits et libertés de l'Église gallicane, and commented on it in Preuves des Libertés de l'Église gallicane. These two works appeared in 1639; a second edition came out in 1651. Jean Louis Brunet (16881747), a lawyer in the Paris parlement, added considerably to these two books in 1731. Pierre Toussaint Durand de Maillane (17291814), lawyer in the Aix-en-Provence parlement, organized the material accumulated by Dupuy and Brunet and called his compilation, increased by new commentaries, Les Libertés de l'Église gallicane prouvées et commentées suivant l'ordre et la disposition des articles dressés par M. Pierre Pithou (5 v. Lyon 1771). It was a summary of Parlementary Gallicanism with all its excesses. No work could give a clearer and more complete idea of this teaching. Without being guilty of rash judgment, one could apply to it what the French bishops said in 1639 of Dupuy's two volumes: "a hateful work, full of the most venomous propositions and presenting formal heresies under the fair name of freedoms .Never has the Christian faith, the Catholic Church, ecclesiastical discipline, the safety of the kingdom been attacked by more pernicious doctrines." In the same tone, but with a touch of humor, Claude fleury, a canonist and a moderate Gallican, observed in his Discours sur les libertés de l'Église gallicane (1723): "Any bad Frenchman, who could flee to safety outside France, could write a Traité des servitudes de l'Église gallicane, as has already been done in regard to its liberties, and he need not lack for proofs."

Declaration of 1682. At the meeting of the Estates General (1615) the clergy rejected the first maxim of Parlementary Gallicanism, that of the absolute independence of the king in relation to the pope in temporal affairs. A meeting of the Assembly of French Clergy (see assemblies of french clergy) some months later accepted decrees of the Council of Trent. These two important decisions did not imply that the French clergy, with the bishops at their head, had ceased to defend the Gallican liberties. If such was the intent, repentance was made in 1682. Victor Martin has devoted an entire book, Le Gallicanisme politique et le clergé de France (1929), to explaining how this reversal came about. Nevertheless, the declaration of 1615 at the Estates General pertained only to the first of the four articles of 1682.

The declaration of March 19, 1682, the manifesto of episcopal Gallicanism, was approved by an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly of the French Clergy. King louis xiv permitted this reunion of 52 bishops and priests to settle the affair of the regalia and to condemn a book. The Second General Council of Lyons (1274) had tolerated the continuance of the regalia in the dioceses in which it already existed, but forbade bishops, under pain of excommunication, to permit it to be introduced into dioceses in which it did not already exist. Louis XIV wished to extend the regalia throughout his kingdom (167375). It might seem that the king, as a good Gallican, would want to obey the prescriptions of a general council, but this would confuse royal Gallicanism, which had little concern for doctrine, with the Gallicanism of the theologians. Royal Gallicanism had only to accept the principles of Parlementary Gallicanism as established by Dupuy, which held that the canons and decrees subsequent to the 9th century were not obligatory. In any event, two French bishops took their stand on the Second Council of Lyons and opposed Louis XIV. Pope innocent xi approved them. After the death of these two bishops, the conflict between the French court and the Holy See still perdured in 1681.

The condemnation of a book by Jean Gerbais, Dissertatio de causis majoribus ad caput concordatorum (1679), did not improve matters. A brief of Innocent XI (Dec. 18, 1680) reproved the book's contents as "schismatic, suspect of heresy, and injurious to the Holy See." Gerbais had written his book at the request of the 1665 Assembly of the Clergy, and in it he defended some of the ideas cherished by episcopal Gallicanism, namely, that bishops have the right to judge matters relative to faith and also to judge, as courts of first instance, their fellow bishops.

The extraordinary assembly of 168182 believed that it could contribute to the reestablishment of peace between the king and the pope by determining clearly the respective powers of popes, kings, and bishops. J. B. bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, was charged with drafting a declaration in Latin. The preamble demonstrated the conciliatory purposes of the document, which sought to avoid the excesses of those who were attacking the decrees and liberties of the Gallican Church (i.e., the ultra-montanists) and also the excesses of those who magnified these liberties even to the point of casting aspersions on the primacy of the pope and the obedience due to the Holy See by all Christians. The essentials of the first article have been noted above. The second article admitted the papal plenitude of power and also accepted as permanently valid the decrees of the fourth and fifth sessions of the Council of Constance regarding the superiority of ecumenical councils over popes. The third article insisted that the papal power must be exercised in conformity with the ancient canons and with the customs of the Gallican Church. The fourth article admitted that in decisions on matters of faith the pope enjoys the principal role but claimed that his judgments are not irreformable without the consent of the universal Church (see declaration of the french clergy).

Louis XIV was pleased to accept this declaration and issued an edict (March 1682) that enjoined the professors of theology to subscribe to it and to teach it each year, and required bishops to make known its contents in their dioceses. Once the king had won the clergy to his side, he believed that Innocent XI would finally yield to his wishes, but he was mistaken. A new conflict, which began because of other royal demands relative to the quarters of the French embassy in Rome, aggravated the situation. Innocent XI continued to refuse to confirm the bishops whom Louis XIV proposed to him. As a result there were 35 dioceses vacant in France in 1689 when Innocent XI died.

In 1690 Pope Alexander VIII condemned the declaration of 1682 (see below). In a letter to Innocent XII (Sept. 14, 1693), Louis XIV denounced his own edict of March 1682. The declaration could have been condemned much sooner, in accord with its own principles, if foreign bishops had followed the example given them in 1682 by the primate of Hungary. Bossuet sensed the danger and composed between 1683 and 1685 an extensive defense in Latin: Defensio declarationis cleri gallicani, which did not appear in print until 1745. Despite the withdrawal of Louis XIV's edict, the declaration of 1682 continued to be widely taught in France during the 18th century. In 1772 Jacques Émery wrote: "To avoid the least suspicion of ultramontanism, we add that we adhere fully to the maxims of the French clergy contained in the declaration of 1682. We consider this declaration to be a precious monument, valuable even to the Holy See, which we do not doubt will one day recognize its wisdom" (cited by J. Leflon, Monsieur Emery [Paris 1947] 2:302).

Last Manifestations. In the 18th century, royal and episcopal Gallicanism became circumspect. Thus the king himself forbade (1720, 1730) his subjects to bring the topic of an appeal to a future council. Parlementary Gallicanism, on the other hand, became more and more violent and repeatedly had recourse to the appeal from an abuse (appel comme dabus ). Theological Gallicanism was divided. There were moderates, who sided with the bishops, and Jansenists, who made common cause with the Gallicans of the parlements. In jansenism could be found something of Presbyterianism, parochialism, and even of laicism, as well as of Gallicanism. Gallicanism died with the civil constitution of the clergy (1790), which broke the bond between the king and his clergy. The situation then was far different from that under the Pragmatic Sanction. After the parlements had discredited Gallicanism, they were themselves abolished during the French Revolution. J. E. M. Portalis, who thought he could conciliate his admiration for the declaration of 1682 with the decisions of the 18th-century parlements, tried to revive the liberties of the Gallican Church by adding 77 Organic Articles to the 17 articles of the French concordat of 1801. This, however, was merely one of the means of controlling the Church open to Napoleon. Furthermore, nothing was more contrary to episcopal Gallicanism than the resignation of the entire French hierarchy in obedience to the demand of pius vii. Associated as it was with Bossuet's name, the declaration of 1682 continued to have admirers. Between 1824 and 1860, A. Dupin published five editions of Pithou's book; but his Manuel du droit public ecclésiastique française, which contained Pithou's work, was condemned by the majority of French bishops, even by those who were Gallicans; it was also placed on the Index (1845). Between 1845 and 1865 the French clergy withdrew their attachment to Gallicanism and adhered in great numbers to ultramontanism. Henri maret tried to conciliate Gallicanism with liberalism in his book, Du concise général et de la paix religieuse (1869). After the complete separation of Church and State in France (1905), the upholders of laicism, although indifferent to the Catholic Church or hostile to it, regretted more than the Catholics themselves the abrogation of the concordat of 1801 and its attached Organic Articles.

Papal Condemnations. The papal condemnations of the appel comme dabus, the appeal to a future council, the exequatur, and the placet also affected Gallicanism. When Leo X promulgated the concordat of 1516 with the bull Pastor aeternus (1516), he also attacked Gallican conciliarism (Enchiridion symbolorum 740). Alexander VIII's constitution Inter multiplices (1690) decreed the Four Gallican Articles void (Enchiridion symbolorum 132226). Pius VI renewed Alexander VIII's condemnation in his constitution auctorem fidei (1794) against the Synod of Pistoia, which had, among other things, adopted Gallicanism (Enchiridion symbolorum 1599). The syllabus of errors (1864) included an attack on Gallicanism. The solemn definitions of the papal primacy and infallibility at vatican council i (1870) rendered impossible any revival of the old Gallican claims, which were by then a faded memory.

Bibliography: v. martin, Les Origines du gallicanisme, 2 v. (Paris 1939); Le Gallicanisme et la réforme catholique: Essai historique sur l'introduction en France des decrets du Concile de Trente, 15631615 (Paris 1919); Le Gallicanisme politique et le clergé de France, 16151682 (Paris 1929). j. lecler, "Quest-ce que les libertés de l'Église gallicane?" Recherches de science religieuse 23 (1933) 385410, 542568; 24 (1934) 4785. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) v. 721, esp. 7, 14, 15, 1821. p. imbart de la tour, Les Origines de la Réforme v. 2, ed. y. lanhers (2d ed. Melun 1944) 73125. g. mollat, "Les Origines du gallicanisme parlementaire aux XIVe et XVe siècles," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 43 (1948) 90147. a. g. martimort, Le Gallicanisme de Bossuet (Paris 1953). j. r. palanque, Catholiques libéraux et gallicans en France face au concile du Vatican, 18671870 (Aixen-Provence 1962). r. thysman, "Le Gallicanisme de Mgr. Maret et l'influence de Bossuet," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 52 (1957) 401465. l. bÉrard, "Séparation, gallicanisme et concordat," Revue des deux mondes (JulyAugust 1957) 193216. e. puyol, Edmond Richer. Etude historique et critique sur la renovation du Gallicanisme au commencement du XVIIe siècle (Paris 1876). m. vÉnard, "Ultramontane or Gallican? The French Episcopate at the End of the Sixteenth Century," Jurist 52 (1992), 142161. p. blet, Les assemblées du Clergé et Louis XIV, de 1670 à 1693 (Rome 1972). r. duchon, "De Bossuet à Febronius," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 65 (1970) 375422. j. m. gresgayer, Le Gallicanisme de Sorbonne (Paris 2001). w. j. bouswsma, "Gallicanism and the Nature of Christendom," A Usable Past: Essays in European Cultural History (Berkeley) 308324. h. g. rule, "Louis XIV and the Church," Louis XIV and the Craft of Kingship, ed. j. c. rule (Ohio 1969) 240263. p. sonnino, Louis XIV's View of the Papacy (Berkeley 1966). p. blet, Le clergé de France en ses assemblées (16151717) (Paris 1995). m. dubruel and h. x. arquilliÈre, Dictionnaire apologétique de la foi catholique, ed. a. d'alÈs, 4 v. (Paris 191122; Table analytique 1931) 2:193273. m. dubruel, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 6.1:10961157. c. constantin, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 4.1:185205, s.v. "Déclaration de 1682." r. laprat, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 193565) 6:426525, s.v. "Libertés de l'Église gallicane."

[c. berthelot du chesnay/

j. m. gres-gayer]


views updated May 18 2018


GALLICANISM . The political dominance of the papacy during a period of the high Middle Ages was necessarily a temporary phenomenon. In central Europe the political fragmentation that followed Charlemagne's attempt at imperial restoration was not reversed by the efforts of successive German dynasties to establish hegemony and to extend their power beyond the Alps. But in western Europe, territories were consolidated that would ultimately become national states. Their growth in size and complexity, together with developments in secular education, favored the employment of laity rather than ecclesiastics in public office. As the opportunity to build larger state units increased, so did the state's determination to assert its power over agencies within its territory. On the international level this would limit the papacy's capacity to intervene in temporal conflicts; within states, it led to a tightening of lay control over the church's tangible assets.

These changes in the relations of power inevitably brought conflict. In England tensions between crown and church are visible in the twelfth century; in France the harangue of King Philip IV (the Fair) before the first meeting of the Estates General in 1302 is a dramatic statement of the rights of the crown over against the church. In the aftermath of the schism that split the papacy between popes and antipopes, Charles VI spoke of "the traditional liberties of the French church." The fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Spanish monarchy combined centralization with control of the church, and the popes surrendered many ancient prerogatives. In some countries the process of realignment of power culminated in the total control of the church during the Protestant Reformation; in other countries it could promote or retard Catholic reformation. In Roman Catholic countries the doctrine of the state's ascendancy over the church received a variety of names: Gallicanism in France, Febronianism in the German states, cameralism or Josephism in the Habsburg lands, and regalism in Mediterranean countries.

Generically, this swing back to lay dominance in public affairs was a corollary of the growth of modern state power. An early formulation in a decree of the French king Charles VIIthe Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, 1438contains the major elements that subsequently would be emphasized first, the supremacy of the king over the pope in the temporal affairs of the French church, with a rejection of the pope's right to intervene in these matters; second, the supremacy of regularly convened general councils over the papacy; and third, the cooperation of the crown and the episcopacy in settling French ecclesiastical issues.

Because the boundary between temporal and spiritual is never unambiguous, and because various interest groups interpreted these "Gallican liberties" to meet their specific needs, it is proper to distinguish several Gallicanisms. Royal Gallicanism sought the extension of state power over ecclesiastical appointments and properties, generally through negotiation. Academic Gallicanism usually enlisted a majority of Sorbonne doctors, who strongly defended the independence of the church and the dignity of the papacy but saw the need for some limitations to papal power. The episcopal Gallicanism of the bishops insisted on the control of their dioceses while accepting the crown's full temporal sovereignty in church affairs and the pope's full sovereignty in spiritual matters. Finally, the parliamentary Gallicanism of the superior courts claimed that the Pragmatic Sanction represented the constitution of the French church and that they were its guardians and interpreters; hence no papal document or agent could enter France without prior approval of the Parlement of Paris, which could also declare its jurisdiction over all church issues (appel comme d'abus ).

The classic statement of Gallicanism appeared in a conflict between King Louis XIV and Pope Innocent XI involving royal financial control over vacant dioceses. The assembly of the French clergy in 1682 sought to reestablish peace by clearly defining the respective powers of pope, king, and bishops. The Four Gallican Articles, drawn up by the very orthodox bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet of Meaux, were intended to be conciliatory. In substance they declared that (1) kings are not subject to any ecclesiastical power in temporal matters; (2) the reservations of the Council of Constance (14141418) on the spiritual supremacy of the pope still apply; (3) the pope is obliged to heed the customs and canons of the Gallican church in the exercise of his functions; and (4) the pope is supreme in matters of faith, but his decisions are not final unless they are confirmed by the judgment of the episcopacy. Although the popes ignored these decrees, Gallicanism retained considerable influence in eighteenth-century France and was generally taught in the seminaries. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790), so decisive in fixing the religious pattern of the French Revolution, had a strong Gallican flavor, as did the seventy-seven Organic Articles unilaterally appended to the Concordat of 1801 by Napoléon.

The clearest example of parliamentary Gallicanism was its use by the Jesuits' Jansenist enemies, who employed it skillfully in securing the suppression of the Society of Jesus in France in 1764. Although many factors contributed to this condemnation, it could not have happened without the strong Gallicanand hence anti-Jesuitorientation of the judicial bodies.

Gallicanism reached the flood tide of its political influence in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras; thereafter its strength ebbed. The sufferings and occasionally the heroism of the popes during this prolonged crisis evoked wide sympathy, not exclusively among the Roman Catholic populations. The disappearance or weakening of the Old Regime monarchs, who had been friendly to Catholicism while striving to control it, created a new political atmosphere in which isolated or persecuted Catholics turned to the papacy for protection. Improvements in communications and other features of modernization assisted. Nearly everywhere in the nineteenth century, ultramontanism, the antithesis of Gallicanism, triumphed. It is ironic that during the century when European nationalism reached its culmination, official Catholicism moved toward greater accent on its international features. Although the early stages of the modern national state system favored the development of Gallicanism, the maturation of the national state saw its virtual disappearance.

See Also



Martimort, A.-G. Le gallicanisme de Bossuet. Paris, 1953. Traces the development of Gallican ideas among the bishops, the magistrates, and the ministers of the crown. The best account available of the Extraordinary Assembly of the Clergy of France, 16811682.

Martimort, A.-G. Le gallicanisme. Paris, 1973. The best introduction to this complicated topic, with the most up-to-date bibliography currently in print. Although brief, it covers an immense span, from Phillip II to the First Vatican Council, with particular attention to the late medieval period. Chapter 7 is useful for its distinctions among the types of Galli-canism.

Martin, Victor. Les origines du gallicanisme. 2 vols. Paris, 1939. Martin apparently intended to encompasss the whole movement but ended his work after reaching the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. It is an immense mobilization of sources for the earlier period, with an exhaustive index.

Rothkrug, Lionel. Opposition to Louis XIV: The Political and Social Origins of the French Enlightenment. Princeton, 1965. A broad perspective on seventeenth-century conflicts. Chapter 1, "The Intellectual and Religious Opposition to Reform," includes a useful sketch of Gallicanism.

Van Kley, Dale. The Jansenists and the Expulsion of the Jesuits from France, 17571765. New Haven, 1975. The best explanation in English of the use made by the Jansenists of the Gallican attitudes of the Parlements. Particularly helpful in distinguishing the varied forms Gallicanism assumed in the eighteenth century. And it makes an exciting story.

Joseph N. Moody (1987)


views updated May 17 2018

Gallicanism. The assertion of more or less complete freedom in the Roman Catholic Church from the authority of the papacy. This was affirmed particularly for the Church in France (the old Gaul, hence the name). The opposite is Ultramontanism. The definition of papal infallibity at the first Vatican Council made any further expression of Gallicanism impossible.