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The End of an ÉliteThe French Bishops and the Coming of the Revolution 1786-1790$
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Nigel Aston

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198202844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198202844.001.0001

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The bishops and the Civil Constitution, 1790

The bishops and the Civil Constitution, 1790

(p.231) 12 The bishops and the Civil Constitution, 1790
The End of an Élite

Nigel Aston

Oxford University Press

Those bishops who stayed in the Chamber after 1790 participated, as much as they felt able, in all aspects of creating the new Constitution. Prelates clung to their reformist outlooks and optimistically tried to view the proposals of the National Assembly in the most favourable light: a chance to rationalise features of Church life heavily criticised in the last decades of the ancien régime. Thus, Archbishop Jean de Boisgelin could agree with Jean-Baptiste Treilhard that the object of all ecclesiastical reforms was to restore the Church to its primitive state, but their ideas diverged abruptly on the means of achieving that end. Reform was one thing, turning the Church into a department of State quite another as far as the bishops were concerned. This chapter further discusses the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, the summoning of a National Council, and Bonal of Clermont.

Keywords:   bishops, prelates, National Assembly, ancien régime, Jean de Boisgelin, Jean-Baptiste Treilhard, ecclesiastical reforms, Civil Constitution, National Council, Bonal of Clermont

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