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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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Bishops versus curés: clerical elections to the Estates-General, spring 1789

Bishops versus curés: clerical elections to the Estates-General, spring 1789

(p.134) 7 Bishops versus curés: clerical elections to the Estates-General, spring 1789
The End of an Élite

Nigel Aston

Oxford University Press

Jacques Necker's electoral règlement made it unlikely that the bishops would have the chance of shining at the Estates-General with ‘toutes les splendeurs de sa primauté’. The rules seemed designed to give the lower clergy a massive numerical predominance at the electoral assemblies, and made it difficult for the bishops to impose their authority. The archbishop of Auch protested, and would have the most deleterious effects on episcopal power. Prelates could only hope that the customary patterns of deference within the Church retained enough force to carry many of them to Versailles. Though the curés could mass in strength, the majority of bishops would spare no effort to obtain election, whatever the odds against success. The summons of the Estates-General never appeared anything less than a watershed in the life of the State to candidates in union of Orders.

Keywords:   Jacques Necker, règlement, bishops, Estates-General, prelates, cures, union of Orders

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