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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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A clerical minister: Brienne, the bishops and the local assemblies

A clerical minister: Brienne, the bishops and the local assemblies

(p.67) 4 A clerical minister: Brienne, the bishops and the local assemblies
The End of an Élite

Nigel Aston

Oxford University Press

Loménie de Brienne dominated the government as king Louis XVI's Principal Minister and introduced a broad range of reform schemes intended to stabilise the state. Any assessment of this period cannot ignore the acerbic accounts of disgruntled contemporaries who pointed the finger directly at the archbishop for causing the Revolutionary disaster. Criticism was levelled at the archbishop minister from all directions. A non-juring cleric like the abbé Augustin Barruel, used the archbishop as his scapegoat; the root cause behind the destruction of the ancien régime, Barruel had no doubt, was Brienne's atheism. Disappointed politicians of more exalted rank who had lost their comfortable positions in the French Revolution were unwilling to credit the hated prelate with a sound or an original idea, while men who had lambasted the exercise of ministerial despotism under the ancien régime rued his disastrous interest in efficient administration.

Keywords:   Loménie de Brienne, Louis XVI, Augustin Barruel, ancien régime, French Revolution, despotism

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