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Commentaire du Concordat de 1801 entre la France et le Saint-Siège

Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique, 102:1, 2007, 124-154.


We offer here a commentary on the text of the 1801 Concordate between Bonaparte and Pius VII, a classical and oft discussed subject. We seek a clear and synthetic presentation of the 17 articles that brought religious peace to France in a troubled time. In two parts, we will show why the Concordate is a dexterous compromise that, on the one hand, satisfied religion and the Republic by recognizing that the religion of « the vast majority of the French » has the right to free and public worship in a Republic to which it owes loyalty, while at the same time the question of the sovereign’s personal profession of faith arose. On the other hand, it responded to questions of persons and wealth by renewing the episcopate and the ecclesiastical property system, via a new circumscription of dioceses, massive demissions and nominations and by convincing Rome to renounce seized ecclesiastical wealth in exchange for the functionarization of the clergy.

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