History of Gallicanism

A Synod of the bishops of France in 1682 in the Declaration of the 4 Articles claimed the Gallican liberties, which in essence limit papal authority to spiritual matters and allocate the responsibility for the administration of the Church of France to the latter, i.e. the French church hierarchy. The most influential figure at the 1682 synod was Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux (1627-1704). The synod, in declaring the Gallican liberties, made use of the publications of Thomas Erastus (1524-1583), Edmond Richer (1559-1631) and Pierre Pithou.(1539-1596).
The Gallican liberties were not drawn up in 1682, but are based on the transactions of the Council of Constance (1414-1418), the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438) and other documents.
The Declaration of the 4 articles became the 'constitution' of the French Catholic church; bishops had to sign the document before being consecrated. Pope Innocent XI. and his successors, on the other hand, did not recognize the document. While he and his successors hesitated to condemn the French Church hierarchy as heretics, they treated them as illegitimate office holders.

In the later half of the 18th century, the French model inspired the church administrations in other countries to follow her model. Zeger-Bernhard van Espen (1646-1728) taught the concept at the University of Leuven (Austrian Netherlands); Justinus Febronius (1748-1790, alias Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim, as auxiliary bishop of Trier; je had studied in Leuven) suggested the adoption in the Holy Roman Empire in a 1763 publication. A first attempt to claim the Gallican liberties for the Holy Roman Empire, at the Conference of Koblenz in 1769, failed; they were adapted in the Ems Congress of 1786, in the Ems Punctuation. The Synod of Pistoia 1786 adopted the Gallican liberties for the Catholic church of Tuscany.

The adoption of Gallican liberties, for France, resulted in the French church gaining autonomy from Rome in non-spiritual matters. The power of the church, especially of the Jesuit Order, to exert social control, was broken. Trials in front of the Inquisition became a rarity. Especially in intellectual circles, it was no longer feared, and the 18th century saw the emergence of Enlightenment philosophy in France, extremely critical of society and church.
The French Revolution saw the (temporary) abolition of the Catholic church in France; when the latter was restored in 1801, this was done in negotiation with the pope (Concordat 1801). The Gallican churches outside of France had come into being with state support; during the Napoleonic wars, the Catholic church in all these countries suffered the secularization of much of her property. After the Vienna Congress, the relation between Catholic church and state was settled in a series of concordats, which limited the political influence of Rome, but preserved the union of the Catholic church. In France, Joseph Count Maistre (1753-1821) contributed much to reuniting the Catholic church in France with Rome.

Article Gallicanism, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Febronianism, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Johannes Nicolaus von Hontheim, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Gallicanism, from Columbia Encyclopedia
Article Gallicanism, from EB 1911
'One faith, one law, one king' ? : Louis XIV, Gallicanism and the Protestants, by R.J. Bonney
Article Pierre Pithou, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Zeger Bernard van Espen, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Congress of Ems, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Friedrich Karl Joseph, Freiherr von Erthal, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Article Bartolommeo Pacca, from Catholic Encyclopedia
A Brief Biography of Joseph de Maistre, from the Maistre Homepage
Article Joseph Maistre, from EB 1911
Article Synod of Pistoia, from Catholic Encyclopedia; from EB 1911
DOCUMENTS Summary of the Four Articles, from gallican.org, in French

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 12th 2003, last revised on November 14th 2004

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