Priests, Prelates and People: A History of European by Nicholas Atkin, Frank Tallett

By Nicholas Atkin, Frank Tallett

The Catholic Church has consistently been an immense participant in ecu and global historical past. no matter if it has loved a spiritual dominance or existed as a minority faith, Catholicism hasn't ever been diverted from political lifestyles. "Priests, Prelates and folks" files the Church suffering to conform to the hot political panorama ushered in through the French Revolution, and indicates how the formation of state states and identities used to be either helped and hindered through the Catholic institution. It portrays the Vatican more and more out of step within the wake of worldwide struggle, chilly conflict and the large enlargement of the constructing international, with its difficulties of inhabitants progress and under-development.

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Extra info for Priests, Prelates and People: A History of European Catholicism, 1750 to the Present (International Library of Historical Studies)

Sample text

So it was that the members of the canonry of St Bertrand de Comminges commanded between  and , livres annually. Ecclesiastical wealth ensured that the functions of the secular clergy were not merely spiritual, but also economic in nature. Everywhere the Church was intimately involved in the economic life of a region, both as a consumer – the cathedral of Seville required , litres of wine, , litres of oil and , kilos of wax annually, for example – and as a major employer. Peasants and urban workers were dependent on ecclesiastical institutions for their livelihood, whether it was the , labourers who constructed the monastic palace of Mafra close to Lisbon, the hundreds of peasants who toiled on the estates of the Archbishop of Seville, the  musicians, vergers and other employees of the cathedral at Toledo, the wig- and robe-makers of Lyon who dressed the clergy in their finery, or the candle-makers of Angers who supplied the cathedral.

Their role had been heightened as a matter of deliberate policy by the Counter-Reformation which sought to channel popular religion within the parish. In terms of numbers, up to  per cent of the population of Continental Europe in the eighteenth century laid claim to clerical status of some kind. This probably marks a decrease when compared to earlier periods both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population; and, indeed, numbers continued to drop generally after . , which has been culled from a variety of sources, gives some indication of the number of secular clerics within the major Catholic states, though the figures should be regarded as approximate.

Yet the Jansenists were shrewd in expanding the basis of their own support by targeting a group who were universally unpopular. From the s, the Jesuits came under repeated attack. The precise reasons varied from country to country. In Portugal, their support for the Indians in South America and their commercial ventures put them at odds with the crown’s interests, and in  they were expelled on a trumped-up charge of intended regicide. In France, the parlements, which had always defended Gallican interests and were often sympathetic to Jansenism, took advantage of a legal case concerning the economic affairs of the Jesuits in the trade of Martinique to question more generally the order’s rules, Ultramontane sympathies and theology.

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