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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, political reform, and public administration

The bishops, political reform, and public administration

(p.30) 2 The bishops, political reform, and public administration
The End of an Élite

Nigel Aston

Oxford University Press

The Gallican Church acted as an important agency of social and political control in the realm, preaching the divine obligation of obedience to the Crown. Bishops in their oath of allegiance at consecration pledged personal loyalty to the king and swore not to take part in any treasonable activities. This classic account of bishops' duties towards the king gives little insight into the subtler exercise of episcopal influence in the late ancien régime. The General Assembly of the Clergy exercised a constant vigilance to guard against the infringement of the Church's legal rights and prerogatives. Archbishop Jean de Boisgelin was instrumental in preventing the submission of ecclesiastical fiefs to the rights of foi-et-hommage, which would have amounted to at least a partial confiscation. Bishops were indeed prepared to contribute towards the total sum of national taxation, but only in the traditional form of a freewill offering or don gratuit.

Keywords:   Gallican Church, bishops, ancien régime, General Assembly of the Clergy, Jean de Boisgelin, foi-et-hommage, taxation, don gratuit

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