Synopses & Reviews
This major work, written by one of the leading historians of France's ancien regime, is the first in-depth study of the French upper clergy during the key period of the Catholic Reformation following the Council of Trent. In describing the creation, character, and role of these early French bishops, it also sheds light on social mobility, education, the career patterns and prospects of particular groups, the workings of patronage and clientage networks, and the wider dimensions of royal policy and patronage at this time. Joseph Bergin begins by analysing the structures of the French church and the process by which individuals were nominated and confirmed as bishops. He then presents a collective profile of these bishops in terms of their social and geographical origins, educational attainments, and pre-episcopal careers. Bergin examines royal patronage in relation to episcopal office, tracing the successive pressures with which the crown had to deal in the wider social and political world. In particular he shows how the crown painfully and gradually recovered control of church patronage after the low point of the religious wars, reducing the grip of the nobility on large numbers of dioceses. He also examines how reforming pressures were brought to bear on the crown to appoint bishops who met the standards of the counter-reformation church and how the crown became increasingly in tune with these reformist pressures. He concludes by explaining particular features of the French episcopate within a wider European context. The book, the result of years of research in French and Italian archives, includes an extensive biographical dictionary that will make it an invaluable reference for allFrench historians of the period.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -738) and index.