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Concordat of Fontainebleau


Misleading title given to a tentative agreement in 1813 between Pope pius vii and napoleon i. These two men had concluded the French concordat of 1801 to which Napoleon had attached the Organic Articles. When Napoleon returned from Russia (December 1812), he wanted to arrange with the imprisoned Pius VII a new compact that would incorporate adherence to gallican ism, the designating of two-thirds of the cardinals by Catholic sovereigns, the disavowal of the "black" cardinals, the establishment of the papal residence in Paris, and the institution of bishops by metropolitans. When the negotiations conducted by Duvoisin proved inconclusive, the emperor went to Fontainebleau, 35 miles from Paris, to overcome the pope's resistance (Jan. 19, 1813). Contrary to some accounts, Napoleon did not stage any violent scenes. After five days of discussions, he succeeded in having the exhausted pope subscribe on January 25 to ten articles, which were to be kept secret and were to serve as the basis of a definitive arrangement.

According to this preliminary agreement, the pope would exercise his office in France and in the kingdom of Italy in the same manner as his predecessors; he would also maintain diplomatic representation. His agents would administer those papal domains that had not been alienated. To compensate for alienated possessions, the pope would receive two million francs. He would accord to newly named bishops canonical institution within six months, or else the metropolitan would supply it. The pope was to have the exclusive right to nominate to the six suburbicarian sees and to titular sees. He would act in concert with the emperor to reduce the number of dioceses in Tuscany, Genoa, Holland, and in the Hanseatic departments. The emperor promised to restore to his good graces those cardinals and prelates who had discontented him. Finally, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the Sacred Penitentiary, and the papal archives would be reestablished "in the place where the Holy Father sojourned."

These ten articles indicated that Napoleon had withdrawn some of his first claims but had obtained the canonical institution of bishops by metropolitans, the concession he wanted most. Although this was supposed to be merely a preliminary, secret agreement, Napoleon published it as a new concordat concluded with Pius VII. Contrary to the affirmations by Bartolomeo pacca in his memoirs, the "black" cardinals who returned to France were not the ones responsible for the pope's disavowal of his concessions. A declaration in the pope's handwriting has been found recently among Pacca's papers proving that on January 28 Pius VII insisted that the articles of January 25 were to be set aside, abrogated, and annulled. At this time the pope decided to await the return of his cardinals in order to consult them, not about the revocation of this act, but about the best procedure to follow in order to render less grave the consequences of his disavowal. After deliberating with the cardinals, Pius VII sent to Napoleon on March 24 a letter retracting what he had admitted, but adding that he was prepared to make accommodations on other bases in conformity with his duty. Napoleon ordered this letter kept secret and proclaimed the Concordat of Fontainebleau as a law of the empire. Napoleon's downfall prevented the so-called concordat from ever being put into effect.

Bibliography: a. mercati, Raccolta di Concordati (Rome 1954) 1:579585, has text of concordat. l. pasztor, "Per la storia del Concordato di Fontainebleau," Chiesa e stato nell'ottocento: Miscellanea in onore di P. Pirri, ed. r. aubert et al., 2 v. (Padua 1962) 2:597606. j. leflon, La Crise révolutionnaire, 17891846 (Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours 20; 1949). a. latreille, L'Église catholique et la Révolution française, 2 v. (Paris 194650) v.2. p. fÉret, La France et le Saint-Siége sous le premier Empire, la Restauration et la monarchie de Juillet, 2 v. (Paris 1911) v.1.

[j. leflon]

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