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Voices of ConscienceRoyal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France$
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Nicole Reinhardt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.001.0001

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The Crisis of Counsel of Conscience

The Crisis of Counsel of Conscience

(p.305) 14 The Crisis of Counsel of Conscience
Voices of Conscience

Nicole Reinhardt

Oxford University Press

This chapter retraces how the trust in ‘counsel of conscience’ and scholastic expertise slowly eroded over the first half of the seventeenth century. Spanish criticism focused mainly on the corruption of the clerical ethos through exposure to demands of reason of state in the process of counselling. Probabilism was increasingly blamed as a symptom and consequence of the problem. The crisis of counsel of conscience possibly explains the retreat of royal confessors from political councils in the 1640s. The French debate started on a weaker basis, characterized by the tension between the ideal of counsel of conscience and its lacking an institutional anchor. The debate peaked during the Valtelline crisis, when Richelieu and his followers rejected the Spanish model of ‘counsel of conscience’ by stipulating that scholastic reasoning was not only incompatible with political counsel but also a tool of Spanish hegemony and a means to subvert French royal authority.

Keywords:   Juan de Ribera, scholasticism, moral theology, Valtelline crisis, Cardinal Richelieu, pamphlet literature

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