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The Confiscation of Church Property in France in 1789

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gV&MMt' III:-FB&ta IH 1T89
Wallace Willard Taylor
submitted in partial fulfillment of the
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy,
of History, in the Graduate
of the State Hniwerslty of Iowa
February, 1941
ProQuest N um ber: 10831737
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$he author wishes to express his sincere
appreciation to the late £r* Georg© Gordon Andrew®
for hie suggestion of the topic and for his valu­
able aid In the early phases of the re search, and
fee Dr* Cornelius William d© Kiewiet for his help*
ful guidance and criticism during the final pre­
9 JUN 19*6
The Preliminary Struggle................ .
Sweats Which Made possibleTalleyrand* s
Demand for the Confiscation of Church
. . . . .
The Defense of a Fourieea-Hundred-Iear
The Determination of tee Bight of Owner­
ship as tee Prerogative of thenation . . .
Public Opinion paralleling tee Assembly
Debates . . . . . . . . ..................
Conclusion........................ ...
The influence of the Church in fiance had de­
clined almost steadily from the days when it was the most
powerful and most re epeeted organisation in the kingdom.
The series of events teat resulted in the establishment of
the Galilean Church, with its merely nominal attachment to
Rome, seriously weakened tee prestige of the universal Church,
although its effect on tee Church in France m s not apparent
for some time.
The influence of tee ultramontane, Jesuit advisors
over tee French kings was a source of constant annoyance to
tee more nationally minded Galileans, who were frequently
Joined by tee Jansenists In their opposition to the Jesuits.
The jansenists took their name from Jansen, the Bishop of
Xpres (1583-1638), tec had published a monumental work en­
titled Augustinus in white he advocated a strict, austere
conception of Catholicism.
His ideas were popularised among
tee French people by Arnauld in a treatise entitled De la
Frequents Communion.
Many people were charmed by this book,
which opposed the Jesuit-fostered notion teat frequent com­
munion would atone for all sins.
The Jesuits were anxious
to keep tee Church doctrines elastic enough to attract all
manner of men, and favored a hospitable religion teat was not
too binding.
To tee Jansenist with his Puritan morals and
tee idea teat heaven was for tee chosen few, this attitude
seemed tantamount to a compact with the devil,
tee Jesuits
were the advisors of Louis XIV and were able to get Jansen* s
Augustinus condemned by the pope, and pascal«s Lettres
Frovineiales (1661), which supported the Jansenist philosophy,
burned by the Common hangman.
It was almost the close of his
reign when, listening to his Jesuit advisers and hoping a re*
newed attach on heresy would reverse his military losses, tee
King determined on a general attach against tee Jansenists.
This attack followed tee Issuance of the papal Bull, Unigenitus,
which found 101 heresies In a monumental work by P&squler
Quesnel, one of tee Jansenist leaders,
tee lull' aroused a
lively protest In Prance and was opposed by several Bishops
and tee parlement of Paris,
tee majority of tee French people
sympathized with tee Jansenists, not because most of teem
liked their views, but because they say tee Bill as an un­
warranted papal and ultramontane intervention in tee affairs
of tee Galilean Church.
tels affair is important because tee
parlements led tee jansenists and Galileans in a long fight
against tee alliance between tee Jesuits and tee crown which
was finally ended by tee expulsion of tee Jesuit order In
This schism left a wide target for the barbed shafts
of Voltaire in his broadsides against tee Church.
Although the spiritual and moral prestige of tee
Church declined almost steadily during tee eighteenth century,
tee clergy was able to oppose successfully any diminution of
either its privileges or Its wealth, with but few exceptions,
down to tee outbreak of tee Revolution.
The clergy was the
first order of tee kingdom and in the earlier Infrequent
meetings of the Estates General had been accorded teat rank.
A royal decree In April, 1095, assured this primacy.2
Catholic priest# were the only ministers who had the right to
celebrate the ceremonies of their religion in public.
had been true since the revocation of the Edict of m u t e s
While an edict of ITS? had restored the civil rights
of the Protestants, L&aoignon, speaking the ting's name the
week before its Issuance, had declared, * E « Majesty wishes
no other public worship in his kingdom than that of the
Apostolic Bom&a Catholic religion.
in the matter of takes, the clergy was exempted from
tallle (land tar), as was the nobility, and from the vlngctiernes
(income tax) and the capitation (poll taw) which the nobility
was required to pay.
in 1710, the clergy had donated
24,000,000 livres to the government in order to gain exemp­
tion from the capitation.4
prom that time on the clergy made
a *free gift* to toe nation at fairly regular intervals.
During the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV, 22 of these "gifts#
were mads, totaling 271,000,000 livree.®
These *free gifts*
were usually paid to toe government cut of borrowed money,
and rte Xing frequently gave them a substantial subsidy to
help in the payment of toe interest.®
There were still instances of the clergy*# going
on trial for offenses in special ecclesiastical courts, al­
though toe wide Jurisdiction of toe medieval (ftiureh in legal
matters had practically disappeared.
This, toe least important
of their privilege#, was toe only one that declined appreci­
$he property of the Church was reported to have ori­
ginated lit the puree which was confided to the ear© of Judas
Thie was augmented fey the gifts of the faithful
who wished to help Jesus*
When Goast&ntlne made Christianity
an institution of the Homan Umpire, It was able to acquire
property by legal means*
With the emphasis on religion through­
out the Middle Ages it became customary for Christians to give
a part of their property to the Church, and Saint Augustine
even recommended that a father Include the Church as one of his
M s estate*
the Church started claiming
of martyrs who died Intestate,
provided that the Church should receive the
widows and vlrgins* and of deaconesses consecrated to lied*
When toe bar-
t# toe Church was well established
and to# priests easily persuaded toe barbarians
that *toelr sins could be expiated by pecuniary gifts offered
to the Ohurch.8 fh# early French Sings mad# lavish gifts to
i# besides establishing toe tithe,
is estimated to
to# Church.”
two-thirds of his wealth to
fhe Council of Arles (1234) decided that all
wills should be made in the presence of a priest and If *lt
was done otherwise, the deceased would be deprived of ec­
clesiastical burial and toe notary would be excommunicated. #
fhis was so effective that It is said to be virtually impossible
to find a Catholic will before toe nineteenth century that
does not contain some provision for pious woris.^
Through thsse methods the Church In France had be­
come enormously wealthy, and In 1789, its property was esti­
mated to be worth more than 3,000*000,000 liwres.11
The same
estimate placed the income fro® this property at 8d,000*OCX)
litres annually.
The Income from the tithes* rents, offerings,
and other sources increased the clergy’s total income to a
figure In m m & m of 180,000,000 litres*
A recognised m o d e m
authority has placed the income from the tildes at 123,000,000
livres, and the amount of land owned by the Church at onetwentieth of the land of France instead of the one-fifth or
one-sixth estimates that were made by some contemporaries.
The clergy was estimated to number about 7I,00Q secular priests
with about 60,000 regulars headed by 136 bishops and arch­
One of the most arresting things about the situation
was the unequal division of the income of the Church, fre­
quently caused by the system of multiple benefice a.
The income of some of the bishops exceeded 100,000
llvres, while the congruous portion, tee amount allowed tee
parish priests for a living, frequently did not meet tee
guaranteed mini imp, which was TOG llvres in 1789
Thi s un­
equal division of wealth was tee subject of almost universal
complaint in the oahiers.
It was this inequality of income,
together with tee inequality of opportunity for advancement,
teat combined t© sake tee lower clergy sympathizers with,
and later active partisans of, tee Third Estate.14
John lues was ©no of the first reformers to start
agitation for the transfer of toe landed domains ©f the Ghurch
to e1*11 control.1^
la the seventeenth century, Franpols
paulmler, an obseure pamphleteer* published a hook affirming
the right of toe State over toe Church property*3^
statement of toe principle appeared in toe anonymous Antorite
tea m i s which was widely read in manuscript form almost a
hundred years before it was published,
fhls work was a com­
pilation of toe theory and toe practice of toe crown In this
It was finally published In 1V4® by Meehault as toe
tradition of toe monarchy.^
In a statement with a slightly
different meaning, but bearing toe same Implication, Cartme
declared, HMy brothers, It Is an incontestable truth that what­
ever Is over and above our needs does not belong to us; it
belongs to toe poor...Our expenses should be strictly limited
and everything over devoted to toe poor.#-**8
Louis XIV cer­
tainly believed that the property of toe Church belonged to
toe State and explicitly made this point in hie letter of
instructions to toe Dauphin.^
In 1?49 a decree was issued forbidding the clergy to
acquire property without toe consent of toe King* and In
lVd4* when toe Jesuit order was suppressed* its property was
sold and toe funds placed in toe royal treasury.
Bone erf was
the author of a book which appeared in XV7G with toe explana­
tory title,
ftpoit dee souverains sur lee M e n a fopds fltt
^cs molnes. j|,
a s a s asijJE la
liuaa^e ppili oeut ftaire &s clss
Asa s i S s n a a *80
Voltaire in his article on ^Canonical Bight1
1 In the
proclaimed the right of a State to
dispose of the wealth of the clergy*
Gondorcet held the same
fhe October speeches in the Assembly on the question
of the ownership of the Church property made frequent reference
to Turgot* s article of fpndationg in I^Encyciooedle.
U s af­
firmation of public utility as the supreme law and M s distinc­
tion between the rights of individuals and those of corporations
•*whioh can have m- existence of themselves and which should
cease to exist from the moment they cease to be useful,* proprinolple on which it was possible for the
to appropriate Ghuroh property without open­
ing the question of the legality of private ownership.
Frederick the Great, discussing the financial plight
of France in a letter to Voltaire, predicted that the Church
property would inevitably be taken over by the State since It
was so extensive and so easily available.^
The economists were starting to argue the advantages
of small farms to the state,
lone erf, previously mentioned,
favored the sale of crown, Church, and communal lands, and
Calonne was entirely agreeable to the parceling out of the crown
During the reign of Louis XV, the commission on
religious orders had suppressed nine of them and had used their
property for purposes of general welfare.^
There was very little sentiment before the Revolu­
tion or in the first weeks of the meetings of the Estate s
General and the national Assembly for complete confiscation
without indemnification.
During this period the clergy was
party to a maneuver which made It #doubly an object of hatred.*
On June 7 the clergy had supported a proposal that a commission
composed of members appointed by each of the three orders meet
together to consider ways of lowering the price of bread.
this m m
was designed to sot a precedent for the meeting of
the teres estates as separate order©, naturally it was refused
by tee Commons.
It was during a discussion of tele Incident
that tee politician© in tee Cafe &u Toy, according to Arthur
young, »c|uestioned whether It was not lawful for tee Commons to
decree tee application of their (tee clergy*©) estate© toward
easing tee distress of tee people.*^
That this opinion m s not general was shown by tee
fast teat some writers ©wen held teat tee debt© of tee clergy
should be paid, telle ©there wished only tee property of tee
regular clergy to be appropriated,
nearly ail agreed, though,
teat *tee State was to be tee new waster of tee ecclesiastics,
their number to be reduced, and tee State was to pay them
nominal salaries.*27
In May tee Estates general had met for tee purpose
of considering tee financial problem, sine© tee nation m s
faced site tee following undeniable facts*
By 1*789 the ser­
vice charge© on tee public debt had reached tee staggering
sum of 300,000,000 litres, sore than half of tee entire income
of the State.
The King and the court hoped to find their way
out of this dilemma by levying new taxes with the consent ©f
tee Estates Oeneral.2^
On the other hand, tee clergy had vast
resources and m s closely Identified with tee unpopular
governmental admini strati on which a great many people blamed
for their difficulties.
So It was only natural that this
possible means of meeting the State *s financial needs, a mbs ,us
which would entail a minimum of new taxation, was due for
careful consideration.^
the nhllosonfees had popularised the
idea that it would be possible to build a new civilisation on
the ruins of the old.
tradition was little valued In this
These things in conjunction with the pressing debt
placed tee Assembly and France in a receptive mood for the
#|ng$estlon that tee nation should receive back its property
from tee clergy.
rtX believe teat X should directly attack the pro­
posals of tee previous ecclesiastical speakers.
Sow, X
declare that tee property of tee Church belongs to the
Busot, tee future CMrondin, made this statement
in tee Assembly which was greeted with wild applause in one
section and with violent disagreement in another section.
This declaration was tee first attempt made in tee Assembly
to secure tee adoption of a statement of principle white was
to gain many new adherents in the following weeks.
It was
made in reply to a priest who had objected to the renuncia­
tion of the tithes Which had occurred in tee historic night
session of August 4.
The priest had asserted, *The clergy
carmot and should not consent to the suppression of tee
tithe without the royal sanction.
Sustaining this objec­
tion, members of the clergy declared that the action had
been taken without sufficient deliveratlon and besides main­
tained teat tee tithes were inviolable and sacred and could
not be abolished.3*3
After the excitement occasioned by Buss#1s opening
words had subsided* he continued by saying that the demands
of the oahiers for the increase of the parish priest*g share
of the income were a recognltion of the nation1s rights over
the church property* since no one could divide things that did
not belong to hi®*
Be closed his speech with the warning that
Rbhe clergy can do nothing better than to at least save appear­
ances and appear to make* of Its own free will* the sacrifices
that dire necessity requires.
this entire discussion had been prompted by the
reporting of the articles that had been drafted by the commit­
tee charged with rewriting the resolutions passed the night
of August 4*
$he articles pertaining to the clergy provided
that the tithes should be converted into monetary rents* that
the Income of the parish priests should be increased* that
birth should be no bar to eligibility for ecclesiastical
positions and titles* and that there should be no further
plurality of benefices.
While it was some time before these
articles received the £lng*s sanction and then became law*
the ones dealing with the clergy passed as they were rewritten
with the exception of the article on the tithes.
Although the principle that the tithes should be
redeemed was accepted the night of August 4 and this acceptance
was admitted in the first written draft of the articles* sen­
timent against it took fora so rapidly that on August 11 the
clergy was reluctantly forced to renounce any thoughts of re­
fhe debates on this matter were bitter and long,
with Sieyes and Montesquieu supporting the clerical point of
view, and Mirabeau, Buport, and Be Villiers leading the
assault against redemption.^
%n the midst of the discussion on the tithes, the
vexatious financial situation was recalled by the request
of Meeker on August 7 for the sanction of a loan of 8Bl®60r, 000
This was made necessary, among other things, by the
greatly Increased governmental espouses resulting from large
purchases of wheat designed to keep the price of bread low.
Between October, 1708, and January, 1701* over 03, §00,000
were spent for this purpose.^
The plea for money did not meet a very warm reoeptlon in the Assembly.
Both Buzot and Barnave first questioned
the neeeeeity of the loan and then doubted that it needed to
be so large,
They asserted that Necker should look to ether
sources, since a loan was a tax and the Assembly had been
forbidden by the eahlers to levy taxes until the oonatitu37
tion had been adopted.
C l e r m o n t & e Lod&ve4s attempt to
stampede the Assembly into sanctioning the loan by acclama­
tion failed and discussion of the proposal was postponed
until the evening session.^
These directions that no taxes were to he levied
until after the completion and adoption of the constitution
had been explicit because the people feared that a tax ac­
corded to the government would give It the means of getting
along without the Estates General.
With the Estates General
dissolved, the opportunity of obtaining a constitution would
"fee lost.
The easier fear that this might occur seemed to
have disappeared among the deputies almost entirely by this
They were willing to vote the loan because, they
argued, #50,000,000 is only enough to run toe government for
two months, and today nothing on earth could dissolve toe
Rational Assembly .-ft™
A di sous sion in the Assembly of ways and means of
insuring toe subscription of toe loan was summarised fey one
of toe papers, and followed fey this comment:
"Here is raised
a great and famous question, that of deciding to whom the
property of toe clergy belongs.
This Question must be de­
cided sines its avoidance had resulted In toe aedumulatlon
by one order, whose poverty is its supreme virtue, of toe
greater part ©f toe wealth of to# nation.*
This comment,
appearing as it did in connection with the discussion of
guaranteeing the loan, obviously implied to&t toe taking over
of the ecclesiastical lands would solve toe problem.^
A member of the nobility, toe Marquis de la Coste,
referring to Besot* s statement made two days before, declared
that ^already in this Assembly a great truth has been spoken;
the eee Xesias tl c&X property belongs to the nation; the time
has come to claim it.
The clergy was originally given toe
property to be used in toe service of divine worship.
holy religion requires ministers, bishops, and priests,
©pinion wishes the® to fee paid by that State.
Besides, it
demand© that the Income of to# parish priests be materially
Be proposed toe following motion:
*?he Nation-
al Assembly declares5
that all so-called ©eclesi&sliaal properties, of
whatever description, belong to the nation.
that dating from the year 1700 all ecclesiastical
tithe a will and should be suppressed.
that all clerics whatsoever shall receive during
their lives an income equal to the actual produce
of their benefices and this amount will be paid by
the provincial assemblies; turthermore, the share
of the parish priests shall be materially Increased.
that the provincial assemblies of fees for the
bishops who are, with the priests* the only essential
ministers of the divine worship,
^bey shall likewise
determine the fund® to be allowed for the expenses
©f the cathedrals and the houses for retired mlni-
that they shall provide, in an equitable manner,
pensions for persons of both sexes belonging to
the monastic orders, which orders shall be suppressed. *
He continued by saying that although it might be
wise to give more time and serious reflection to the putting
into operation of hi® entire proposal, “it appears to bo of
the utmost importance to the public credit that the first
article be sanctioned immediately.
|^®ethfs attempt to
uphold la Coste was drowned out by an outburst from the clergy,
which was shouting that the question was out of order.
observed that it was necessary to prove that the property of
the Church belonged to the nation before It could be pledged
as a guarantee of the loan.
inseth started his speech again
in spite of the noise from the clerical section.
In this speech he developed the point that neces­
sarily had to be accepted before the bourgeois assembly would
seriously consider the confiscation of the church property.
Quoting Turgot *s article on fondations in the Encyelooddie.
he made a distinction between the property-holding rights of
citizens and of corporate bodies.
Individual property rights
were inviolable, since It was for the purpose of protecting
their property, In addition to the accompliehmeat of other
purposes, that men had originally associated themselves to
form a society or a State.
This inviolability, however, did
not carry over to corporations, which were artificial crea­
tions of the State itself, and thus could be destroyed at the
will of their creator.
The acceptance of this distinction
would make it possible for the assembly to confiscate the
property of the Church without feeling that it had established
a precedent that might endanger private property.
ended his speech with a reminder that the Church property was
the Assembly’s only available resource, and, with a stirring
plea for relief for the tar-burdened people, urged that the
Church1a wealth be pledged to the creditors of the State as
a guarantee for the forthcoming loan.
This motion produced a painful effect among the
clergy, and the BI shop of Chartres and the Abbe Montesquiou
showed themselves to be sharply opposed.
A general uproar
ensued, and It was some time before Monteaquiou
was able to
re store order by proclaiming that It wee to the best interest
of the clergy to listen patiently t© the discussion 4?
M. le Due de Lianoourt, sensing the possibility
that the church property might be pledged by the clergy as a
guarantee for the loan, objected that it was not right that
only one part of the Ration should have the honor of making
the guarantee,
in other words, he believed that there was no
reason why the clergy should get credit for guaranteeing the
loan with property which, according to his point of view, did
not belong to the churchmen any more than it .did to the other
two orders.4^
This was before the clergy had offered its
property as a pledge,
potion and pandre supported Ll&ncourt*s
view, but Be laudine eloquently challenged the clergy to
make the offer to the Assembly in its own name.
The Arch­
bishop of Aix replied that the clergy was conscious of the
honor, and after a hurried consultation with the Bishops of
bengres, $£iaes, and Autun, called a meeting of the clergy
in a separate room.
After this meeting, the offer was made.4®
But the offer was not accepted.
Barere apparently
expressed the opinion of the majority of the Assembly when
he said, *A$ to the guarantee offered by the clergy, it is
got becoming that it be offered by an individual group; the
nation has m a d only of itself; besides what obstacles might
not such & pledge place jn the wav pf thq execution Qf m u r
a m Sa&LflPS uson tfaa eeoleelaatioal a£2E£2ii’*50
Ike last
part of this statement is significant In that it shows that
at least some of the members had already formulated a definite
opinion as to the eventual necessity of nationalizing toe
clerical lands.
After deciding teat toe credit of toe nation Itself
should for® toe only guarantee, and Just before voting toe
loan, toe Assembly lowered toe interest rat® fro® 5 to 4§ per
cent and vetoed toe proposal that #toe names of toe lenders
he engraved in a book of honor to fee handed down to posterity. *5^
It seems probable that toe Assembly lowered toe interest rate
chiefly as a means of reasserting its authority over finan­
cial affairs.
Matters having progressed to this point, toe ques­
tion arises as to why toe Assembly did not at this time secular­
ise toe wealth of toe Church and in this way dispose of its
financial problems.
This would have mad® possible toe consider­
ation of toe constitution without toe recurrent interruptions
caused fey financial difficulties.
The statement of Clermont-
Tenners that »it is toe early to enter into a discussion of
the ownership of toe church property, #
and toe statement of
Mirafeeau toat "the motions were doubtless premature*53 re­
present toe attitude of most of toe members of the Assembly.
What explains their position?
The instructions of the oahiers,
already referred to, were toat nothing should fee done to
relieve toe financial situation until toe constitution had
been adopted.5^
At this time the decrees of August 4 had not
been sanctioned, and toe Assembly was not yet absolutely cer­
tain toat it would have charge of toe arrangement of finan­
cial matters.
Mirafeeau was not willing to do anything to
strengthen Meoker* s position because he had ambitions of at­
taining that post in the ministry himself*
there was the
danger of losing the support of the lower clergy by any pre­
cipitate action* and later developments would see® to indicate
that the Revolutionists felt public opinion had not yet cry­
stal 11set sufficiently.
la the period following the abolition of the tithes
on August IB the most important activities in connection with
the whole ecclesiastical problem and the confiscation of
dhureh property In particular probably were those of the Re­
volutionary propagandists who did m s t of their work outside
the Assembly.
The attacks on the Church property became more
vigorous and appeared more frequently in both the newspapers
and the pamphlet literature*
The attacks against the Arch­
bishop of Paris* famous as a friend of the poor and the op­
pressed* were so numerous that he published a statement of
defense against his detractors*
rtXt has been to our surprise
and our sorrow to learn that there have been circulated among
the people scandalous writings* where w© have been represented
to their eyes as pastors so Ignoble and so inhuman as to have
pleaded before the king the interests of the rich and the
powerful against the poor and the weak and to have ventured
to give him false counsel against his people.*6®
Rearly everyone came forth with suggestions for the
improvement of toe national welfafe and most of them suggested
in on® way or another the use of the Church property to
ameliorate toe people1e lot*
As early as August 7, R. R. Hinant,
an Augustine monk* advocated the use of the monasteries as
|lomes for old and wounded soldiers*^
GXavidre, in a scholar­
ly work which appeared early in August* maintained that
Franoe#s resources were store than sufficient to take care of
the debt and public needs* and should be utilised for the
creation of a b & a k . ^
It was only a short step to the idea
that the proposed bank should be financed with the proceeds
from the sale of the Church property*
The charges against the clergy grew sharper, and*
while doubtless a great many of the accusations were false,
their ready acceptance by the papers caused them to play an
important part in the creation of a public opinion that de­
manded reform.
Articles such as these played no small part
in molding public opinion against the clergy5 **Xt is the
devil, say the bishops of the Frankfort synod* who causes the
famine, who devour the grain in the shook*
It is in this way
that the hardy Christian who refuses to pay the tithes is
'The priests fabricated a letter to Jesus Christ
to the faithful In which he menaced the prophets, the seers,
the magicians, and those who would not pay their tithes, with
the loss of the fertility of their flocks and threatened to
send evil serpents into their homes who would devour the
hearts of their wives. *
August 29, a book, ?toee S^nerales jg£ IS. flaasiiiiiiiaa B&agsias. m
m m i
I*.,ftasB& £aas HarMs.
a&frfflSSiL aasla^ s i aonarohioua. toy M. Cerutti was reviewed In
In the Chronloue de parte.
In hie discussion of the wealth
of the church, Cerutti stated that its property belonged, not
to the priests, bub to all the faithful, and the bequests to
the church had been sad© because of the ignorance and credulity
of the people.
#fhe grasping priests, carrying the gospel
In one hand and a wallet In the other, went to gain legacies
unfairly... -They extorted from the dying because of their
terror of Bell.
fh©y extorted from the lining by announce­
ments of the disasters of the end of the world.
Most of the
bequests begin with toe words, *since toe world is coming to
an end.1 Wo t ten or twelve centuries they h a w enjoyed i»i
comes from properties acquired by false prophecies... .They
{toe properties) must be restored..*
the editors commented
toat toe fullness of toe excerpts relating to the ecclesiasti­
cal properties was due to their energy and eloquence.
fhls statement when contrasted with toe editorial
comment on m m T J Z S M & m
M m 2 m Msa&
by toe Abbe Sleyes which was reviewed In toe next issue of
the same paper, shows conclusively where toe editorial sym­
pathies lay.
#11 is not astonishing toat toe Abb& 31eyes
himself,.. should not complain of toe substitu­
tions (for toe titoes)••«*toe substitutiona are a very great
political abuse and a great error in legislation.#
very ably written pamphlet presented toe thesis toat the
Church is a political body as well as toe State and toat while
toe State can dissolve toe Church, as long as the Church re­
mains in existence, It has toe right to own property toe same
as toe State.60
On August 31 the Qbservateur printed a letter from
a Oapuoin monk urging *thai the national assembly take over
the property of the mendicant orders, assure each of the monks
000 l i w a s exclusive of lodging (he estimates that a fair
division of the existing revenue would give them 2,000 livres
each) and devote the remainder to the State needs.
He hopes
this will help the monks by taking their minds away from
worldly things.*®^
September 2 the same journal carried
this significant item:
*A priest in a village near Saint
Brleux preached against the national Assembly and urged M s
parishioners to ignore Its decrees*
arrested M m and took him prinsoner.
The citizen militia
fhey obtained informa­
tion of which the process-verbal will be sent to the national
And again, "Three monks of the Are Marla were con­
demned to eat their rice with a toothpick because they
chatted a little too freely of the possibility of the sup­
pression of the monastic orders.*®*5 fm
weeks later, it was
^Several members of the Assembly continually reletter 8 from monks and nuns, demanding the abolition
of monastic orders*
Most of the letters are unsigned because
the writers fear toe wrath of their superiors.*®4
A circular was addressed September 21 to the
Religious Communities requesting payment ©f amounts that were
After to® story the Qfeservftftyu? added, *The religious
communities should he pleased to learn if the Ecclesiastical
Chamber was forcing toe bishops to pay as well**®®
a pamphlet published September 22, listed among
the immense resources which were available for regenerating
the State #tee properties of the clergy, the tithei*s, and the
royal domains.#^
A very interesting letter appeared in the
for September 27, which indicated the attitude of the papacy
toward the reforms that were being carried on In France.
*!Monsieur 1 +0bserv& teur, a letter from Home of the 9th of
this month informs us teat there is consternation there at
what has happened in France*
The pope has ordered prayers
throughout tee ecclesiastical state in favor of tee kingdom.
A command has ordered tee sounding* until further instructed,
In all tee churches of Home, of tee largest bell an hour
after sundown; this pealing lasts half an hour, during which
tee great and small recite on their knees, in the churches,
In tee homes, and in tee streets tee Salve Begins, l*Ave Maria
and jje pro fundi si
the order accords seven years and forty
days of Indulgences for each half hour.
Mo one speaks of
tee affairs of France as news, but only as lamentations
toward tee heavens, in order teat tee Eternal will deign to
recall the ancient regime,
f do not attribute these pious
wishes to tee arrival of MA&amV :dV ppiigkaa a & 3$ome.; nor to
tee weakness of our old eminence,:’,j^£lli
to the hasty
V *’.** *
flight of so many of the French npbl&sl: to -.the papal States,
but very simply to the credulous people of the nation and to
tee guiding principles of its leaders.**
The letter closed
ironically, #it is very pleasing to see the Homan people on
their knees in the streets praying to the holy virgin for
the perpetuation of tee slavery of tee French peopled
same day tee Qhronioue he
printed this
"Great sacrifices are necessary to regain tee wealth
usurped by tee clergy.... We hope teat the courageous minority
will fee sustained fey tee force of public opinion, fey the unanimous agreement of tee true citizens#
and #oae remarks
with satisfaction teat tee cures... .have shown sentiments
more elevated and more generous than tee bishops and afefees.*1^
The Marquis de Villette in a letter to the editor
of tee Chronique de Paris urged tee despoiling of tee cathe­
drals, seminaries, and wealthier pari tees of their ^immense
and useless# treasures.
He estimated teat this Hw©rldly
plate# would furnish tee State more than §0,000,000 livres.
tee sale of tee Church property would yield 0,000,000 lilies,
according to him, and as tee Income from one-half that amount
was sufficient to pay tee legitimate Churoh expenses, tee
of tee rest.®
next day a member of tee Assembly expressed tee
should sacrifice for tee welfare of
amount of plate which was in tee
churches and which was not necessary for worship.
He de­
clared teat tee luxury of tee creator of things was in the
magnificences of nature and not in vain ornaments*
His state­
ment was applauded on every side, but tee clergy remained in
a dead silence.7*
After an attempt was made to repulse tee
proposition, de Juigne, Archbishop of Paris, got up and spoke
in the name of tee clergy ;
»We have seen the Church consent to the despoiling
of its temples for the succoring of the poor and for assist­
ing the needs of the State; these examples which history offers
determine ua, at least it is the view of all the others who
surround me, to aid the State with teat portion of the plate
which is sot necessary to tee decency ©f divine worship.
propose to make this sacrifice by agreement with tee municipal
officers, tee priests, and the chapters.
These words were
received with general approval and the Assembly invited tee
churches by a decree to send their plate teat was not essen­
tial to worship *
On September 26 a letter from a subscriber was
published in the Qfaroninue a. Paris raging tit. Assembly to
take over tee excess furnishings, plate, and luxuries of tee
tee same day a committee made a detailed report on
the reasons for tee condition of tee treasury.
They attributed
it to tee heavy purchases of grain, to the reduction of tee
regular revenues which had been entirely suspended in some
provinces, bat most important of all to tee general terror
which had disrupted tee usual business life of the nation.
They finished by reporting there was no doubt *©f tee state of
distress of which tee first minister spoke; and at tee same
time one can only applaud tee methods by which he proposes
to re-establish public confidence on tee bases of order and
economy, before attempting any new expedients.*1®
In passing tee decree teat despoiled tee church of
its plate, according to Duquesnoy, "evidently the Assembly
was being consistent*
It has been ready for a long time; it
Is necessitated by circumstances, by public opinion, and by
the necessity of the clergy to get in step with the times**
However, "the people.*. .extremely attached to the pomp of
public worship..* .will not forgive the Assembly for despoil­
ing the churches.*
He also saw the lack of wisdom In passing
a decree that required the sanction of the King before it
could become final when the intervening period would be used
In secreting the most valuable of the plate*
He estimated
that the receipts from the plate would be about 30,000,000
liwres and that it would easily be double that if the church
officials gave up everything they were supposed to.*^4
Two days later, membe^a of the clergy disavowed
the action of the Archbishop of Paris In offering to sacri­
fice the plate, quoting St. Ambrose And St. Augustine that
the plate of the church was the patrimony of the priests*
fhe commons objected, and the clergy, "sensing their imminent
defeat,* raised such objections that debate was impossible.
When the clergy then attempted to pass a decree that the
plate would always remain in the churches, the commons left
the hall, and the clergy, being left alone, was forced to
retire because a quorum was lacking.
The Assembles Rationale
concluded its account of this episode with the observation
that 8the property is common; the Ration alone has the right
to dispose of it*8 ■
To one of the newspapers oame a letter
warning the government to hasten In the taking of the surplus
plate as it was being hidden and buried.
The intention of the Assembly to make a sincere and
honest attempt at clerical reform was demonstrated by the
appointment of a commit tee on ecclesiastical affairs on August
the members were Lanjuinais, D^Qnaeson, Grandln, Martineau,
De Lallande, I*e prince de Bobeeq, Salle de Choux, Trellhard,
Legrartd, Vaneau, Burand-Mai 1 lane, Francois de Bonal {Bishop
©f Clermont), Bespatis de Courteilles, de Mercy (Bishop of
Lucon) , de BouihllXIer, Bom Gerle, Bionis da Sejour, 1 •Abbe
Montesquieu, Guillaume, Be la Ooste, Bupont de Hemours,
Massiar (priest), Expilly (priest), Chasset, Gassendi,
Bolslandry, Ferment, Boa Breton (monk), Poule, and lhlebaut
The committee was well chosen containing as it did
representative s from the upper clergy and lower clergy as
well as the laity.
Both liberal and conservative elements
were represented, although toe former were predominant.
the known views ©f its members, 11 was hoped they would pre­
sent a liberal reform program that would preserve toe church
while placing It under secular control,
to September 23,
the Assembly granted toe request of the ecclesiastical com­
mittee for access to the records of the clergy so they could
determine the extent of its wealth, the sources of its
revenues, and toe amount of its expenditures.**®
Though toe
committee m s Influential in later ecclesiastical legisla­
tion, Its importance in the matter of toe secularisation of
the church lands was rendered negligible by toe aroused
state of public opinio
The problem of clerical reform was subordinated to
the more pressing one of providing funds for the nearly bank­
rupt treasury*
This had a very direct connection with the
secularisation of the church property since it was by this
action that the Assembly was able partially to restore the
credit of the government and to proceed with its plans for
the organisation of a constitutional government*
This period
was featured by the slow recognition of the Inexorable demands
of the treasury and the unrelenting opposition of the clerical
leaders to all plans designed to diminish its privileges
and curtail its wealth and power.
The molding of public
opinion went on apace until the liberals were able to com­
mand support for the measure they finally succeeded in passing*
Meeker appeared before the Assembly on August 27
to ask a new lean of 80,000,000 llvres at 0 per cent interest^
acknowledging that the earlier loan of 30,000,000 llvres had
not been successful*
Talleyrand, and Mirabeau urged the adop­
tion of the loan without discussion and the confirmation of
the decrees of June 17 and July 13, that sharply disavowed
any intention of repudiating either the debt or the interest*
The Assembly passed the ministerial proposal with the con­
firmation asked by Mirabeau and Talleyrand.
This loan was
no successful either, and on March 12, 1790, Pecker announced
that only 47,000,000 llvres had been subscribed*
This ac­
tion, as well as the spirit in which it was taken, show
definitely that the Assembly was not even thinking of debt
repudiation as a way out.
That some definite action was
imperative is shown by Puquesnoy1s statement that unless
action was taken an the financial problem, the Assembly
would lose all its prestige in the provinces.8^
the state of the Nation *s finances had not been
helped by the loans voted in August, and the spectre of bank­
ruptcy came closer and closer*
On September It gouy d’Arcy
declared that the increasing of the interest rate had not had
the result of making the second loan acre attractive than
the first and that he would "assure the Assembly that the
royal treasury had not profited 10,000,000 by the decrees**
Me maintained that It was folly to attempt the organisation
of a government under these circumstances and It would be
*best to suspend all work on the constitution and devote the
morning sessions to finance and the evening session to main­
tenance and reports**
He suggested the patriotic tax known
as a "free gift* which Keeker later proposed and was success­
ful in getting adopted*
The response was not enthusiastic,
as most of the deputies regarded the eonsitution as being
of paramount importance.
However, as a result of Mirabeau*s
statement, "the constitution cannot advance without finances,
nor finances without the constitution, * the Assembly voted
to devote Wednesdays and Saturdays to a discussion of fi­
nancial matters exclusively*
Weaker again appeared before the Assembly September
24 and attempted to convince them of the necessity for paying
immediate attention to the financial problems.
He said, "The
financial affairs have gradually arrived at the last stage of
He discussed the extraordinary expenses
caused by the large purchases of grain, the loss of Income
from travellers who had been kept out of the country by dis­
turbances In the provinces and In parts, particularly the
depressing effect of toe emigration on business, the lack of
Interest In the second loan even though it was more advanta­
geous than toe first, and toe distress caused by toe virtual
dt sappearnaee of specie*
He told how the Sing, Queen, and
ministers had donated their plate t© be made Into money*
patriotic gifts of various hinds and amounts had been pouring
Into toe Assembly since toe middle of toe preceding month.
He discussed toe economies that were possible, explaining
their inadequacy, and concluded by asking toe adoption of a
patriotic tax amounting to one-fourth of toe income of every
citizen for one year excepting only those whose income was
less than 400 llvres and laborers without property.
pledges were to be paid within 15 to IS months and toe
amounts t© be determined by toe voluntary statements of toe
citizens themselves under oath.
He also asked for a tax of
from &-7t© 3 per cent on plate. Jewelry, etc*, and very un­
wisely suggested a diminution of the g.aJ & U & <salt tax).
This Is another instance in toe long line of tax reductions
passed by a bankrupt state before any adequate provision
was made for revenues from other sources.^
M. Dupont de Nemours, an economist and disciple of
Turgot, followed Meeker on toe platform and in a long bril­
liant speech, bristling with figures and statistics, questioned
toe value of Meeker* s proposal*
He estimated the national
income of 3,000,000,000 llvres and expenses at 1,600,000,000
llvres which left 1,500,000,000 llvres for the proprietors.
Of this amount the royal treasury already received 600,000,000
llvres from its various taxes,
There remained 1,000,000,000
llvres to he divided between the land owners and toe cul­
How, which of these sums would supply the contribu­
they must come from toe 300,000,000 llvres of toe
proprietors because toe farmers were not able to pay It from
their share,
toe fourth, then, could not be more than
to,000,000 llvres, and this sum could not be paid even by the
rich because toe rich were poor; they needed money and all
had debts.
Dupont estimated that no more than 50,000,000
llvres could possibly be received from toe contributions and
that tola amount would only take toe place of toe funds lost
by the suppression of toe gabelle and other taxes •
After having disposed of Hecker's plan, he went on
to suggest one of his own.
He recalled to toe Assembly that
toe clergy had relinquished toe tithes to the Assembly and
urged that toe Assembly use them together with toe church
lands for toe financial rehabilitation of the nation.
estimated toe revenues of toe clergy at 160,000,000 llvres
Including toe tithes.
He estimated that 75,000,000 llvres
of that should be used for toe expenses of worship and the
living of toe ministers, 16,000,000 llvres for pensions to
those who would henceforth be without duties, 13,000,000 llvres
for toe works of charity and Instruction, and 7,000,000 llvres
for toe interest on toe clerical debt.
This would certainly
succeed if so well guaranteed and would solve the present fi­
nancial distress and permit the refunding of the old debt-
did not favor an Immediate sale of Its lands except In the
case of the most useless and those harmful to public prosperity,
such as the grounds of monasteries which occupied too great a
proportion of the t o m area.
He urged the Issuance of paper
money to be based on the church lands.
Sarller In his speech in an impressive table compiled
for the past eighty-three years, he had shown that if the
clergy had contributed in proportion to its means, *even so
modestly as their fellows in privilege, the nobility* had
done, the state that moment would be in possession of a re­
serve capital of 540,000,000.
The corporate state was, of
course, its heir, lawfully entitled not only to its own due,
but to the entire heritage.*1 What the Roman law would have
called a deposit must now be returned to its true owner for
the maintenance of worship and the ministers, f or the pre­
servation and improvement of public education and charities*
Bis plan which was in reality designed to reform the whole
State, called for the establishment of a national bank to
control the issue of the paper money and to save the state
some 50,000,000 llvres annually in interest.®*
This important speech was hailed as having **disentangled the Impenetrable chaos of the finances.
He oleared
away the clouds which had always covered this Important
branch of the administration.
On September 25 the Assembly again renewed the deoree
originally passed June 17, provided that taxes would continue
to be collected during the meetings of the Assembly as they
had been in the past.
They planned to make the changes in the
tax structure effective at the start of the new year*
decree apparently had no more effect than its predecessor*
In the days before the fifth and sixth of October
It became more and more apparent that Neeker*« plan of the
voluntary Income tax was not going to produce toe desired
Puquesnoy said that since it would be impossible
to finish the constitution before relieving toe financial
situation, #every means of re-creating toe public credit
H m s after approximately four months of work the
was still haunted by toe financial problem which it
had originally been summoned to solve*
The problem was even
more urgent than it had been in June, since toe collection of
the old taxes had been idsorganlaed and toe Assembly had
undertaken new obligations without providing the financial
means for fulfilling them*
the constitution, which was the
first obligation of the Assembly, was still not
i$ and even at this time toe Assembly was waiting
rather anxiously for the sanction by toe Xing of toe consti­
tutional decrees passed the night of August 4*
nils ohapter is a condensation of the thesis, The pre-
M m ssmtejmtikm at (muroh ££o-
Frapee in 1789. presented by the author to
fill one of the requirements for the Bt.A. degree la
February, 1937.
Voir preamble ©t article 40 (Isambert, Secueil des aqoieane.g loie fr&nqalses. F. 20, pp. 243 et 256) - quoted
in ha Oorce, ajfltelJOl
7. 1, p. 3.
oorce, aufr&CT.
p. 4.
1& M j 9 2 M k m
The llvre at this period was a coin representing some­
what less than 5 grammes weight of silver, and slightly
less value than the a©trio franc when first established,
Mathlez, fflae French Revolution^ p. 7.
f. 1, p. 39.
shafer, j&g, mmsS&Lth U t e z & i & m M
p* 62 •
Forot, h W & w M & m
p. i.
1& $ m m
%Ltm M
fa. Code de Justinien, 7. 1, p. 04.
dssula 12 2&
i M QMltomik s£ J&&
SLssm k
Quoted in Forot, op. oit.
P? 2f
Forot, op. oit., p. 2.
Guettee, Hlatolre de l'Eellse da la Prance,. T. 5, p. 166.
Forot, op. oit., p. 3.
fhis is the estimate of the Abbe Montesquieu made at
the close of the Constituent Assembly. It is regarded
as a modest estimate and does not include the treasures,
such as plate, jewelry, objects of art, etc. tovoisier
lM X*M&%
rn la. Frafffifi aft las. Jttaiuc.
4 ,
mX&XPJ2&. P- 80 et suiyant). Rioted
ia ia Gorce, Hlatoire Religjcuae de 2a B
*^aj89, T. 1^ p. 11.
See, i a France EooaealauB Si Sooiale
p. ® .
Aulard, l a Chrlatlanlame si 1& ReTOlafcloa Franpalae. p. SO.
xT IIZ e 31eole.
All the bishops and arohbi shops la 1789 were noble s.
Revolutloiy p. 19.
Collection dee Pro oea-Yerbaux du elerge, T. S, pp. 645
•* 450; aaBQlyss Ja. Q2&PSR, T* 1* 649- Quoted la
Ms. fiissa M
1 £ Revolution, p. 12.
Hisses. Sffiaa,
p. 94.
ibid. ^ p* 34*'
Lebeque, ■rhcmrgt. p. 160.
Ooadoroet, Aaaeableea oroylnolalea oeuvres. T. 8,
pp. 442-4501 849*4lSi; 7. 8* p. 146* Quoted la Lebdque,
Thoaretf p. 180
9aaitiU§m £J&MMUS. SiMiSU P- *43.
M. laaia MS,
*• 2, 9* 93.
f^r T. 7, pp. 74-73.
Aldington, -jafcftlifil s£ TalMEff A M gKMsa.i9.fti .feS-JagsM.
p. 307.
Marlon, op. oil., T. 2* p* 49.
Mathles, op. eit., p. 97.
xaujsg, .aaaeli la m a s s . p. xss.
Shafer, 2&£ pamphlet lAfrsgflftWffff M S&SL QaMWBMfc fi£ JtM
fievolution- p. 70. An excellent discussion of
the eonteEiporary opinion on this problem Is found in
this thesis on pages 68-73.
Mathiez, op. ©it., p. 12.
Book. To yards an ttndaratandlng af Karl Marx. pp. 241-246.
M. aP.QjfrSMr
P* 133-
• jfS- ^oint du flftffi*. 7. 2* 8 abut, p. 64.
1ft Manlteur Universe!. 6 abut, p. 163.
m s m l M
la Point du Jour. T. 2, 6 aoQt, pp. 51-53.
gflKU* *• 2, p. 393.
Saylor, J&g. BSgA&SMma: fitrM KKift SSSS.
of Church Property In Eranee In 13BS. d p . 19-31. m s
unpubliabed thesis contains a full account of these
Karlon, op. cit., T. 2, p. 4.
Journal de Hagueanoy. « aout, pp. 276-279.
[i 10 aoht, pp. 939—1000.
L» T. S, 9 aout, p.
Ibid., 10 aout, p. 1000.
Journal de UA3aeiablee SaUonale. f. 2, & aout, p. 455.
it 7. 8, p. 369.
, 7. 2, 10 aout, pp. 1000-1001.
Hatlonale. T. 2, 8 aofit, p. 456.
Archives parlementalrea. f. 1, p. 369.
Journal de L*Aaaeiabl5e Rationale. f. 2, 2 aofit, p. 457,
Robinet, m m m G l f i Rellgleux a Paris pendant 1&
T» Xf p* 448.
UAsaeroblee Rationale. 7. 2, 2 aout, p. 467,
M m smswslsBtp
&& Esaaas, sa. M
Archives Parlementalrea. T. 8, p. 371.
he Point du Jour. 7. 2, 10 aotft, p. 79.
IMd., 10 aout, pp. 80-01.
Xbtd.# 10 aout, $>. 82.
la Q&mQ, op. eit.* f. lf p. 135.
J & gQBlteur BBtiES$SS3.» 2 aodt, p.
i& fiMufoag J& BEa.mas.fe. *• 2, no. se, e aofit.
See also Buquesnoy1s statement on August 89 s 51Hi© Marquis
de tfr Goste might be right. Without doubt these proposi­
tions are so evidently true that it la only necessary to
consider them intelligent to admit their truth. OuP
fickleness is such that we cannot follow and dispose of
a subject; we find another question in the first one; we
start everything and finish nothing.11 Journal de
pp. 2,?8-279.
Guettee, op. sit.# T. 12, p. 176.
jiS^El^L £fHL
2, 13 ©out, p. 1001.
At i & t i & m m M z *
i, f. 0, 7 aofrb, p. 343.
, a©. 31, 20 aout, p.
f no. 31, 30 aout, p. 62
, p » 02.
, p • 62 *
, p. 155.
B s m m t
7* 5, 25 eoptembre, p. 129.
, 27 septeabret p. 136.
At S m m s nsx., 8 octobre, p. 386.
gafoyenoft. 7- 6, 25 aeptembre, p. 151.
f. 4, 20 septefflbr®,
p* 2
Efl^fU »
septembre, p. 134.
ss septe^r©, p. 333.
7. 4, p. 25
SB septembre, p . 260.
. 1, p. 375.
, 2 ootobre, p. 274.
, no* 84, 20 aoQt, p. 2; Arohlvea garl7. 8, p * 401 *
la. Mcmlteur tlniYersel. 23 Boptosbre, p. 252.
- --- — _ — —
-jvolaMoja aad Religious Reform.
Has good account of the Commission, pp. 73-77.
Marion, op. oit*f T. 2* p.
37 aotit, p. 193.
aout, p. 9.
La Moniteur
Journal de
M Ho. 32, 19 Septem'bre, p. S.
Ar?My,9S_ gfirtoS.P.Mj.CT.S> *. », P- X47;
27 aout, p, 316.
, 84 septerabre, pp. 150-175,
, 7. 4, 96 asptembre.
La MWflJr.qMg: IftfoysffiBbL* 34 septeabre, p. 236.
Joura&X de m<tueeaoy. T, 1* 2 ootobre, p. 386,
wmmn mzm mm posaxsus T&umBm&s mum®
mm wm mwwzmmmm or m a m p b o f e w x
fhe fast-waning pres tig© of the Church, teioh had
so long protected Its property and It® privileges, suffered
even more severe blows ia tee first few days of October.
Doubtless tee attach on Church property would not have been
postponed much longer in any event, but tee march of tee
mob on Versailles and tee close linking of tee Church with
tee reactionary royalist party accelerated tee notion.
At tee same time tee Assembly realised teat some
disposal of tee financial problem would have to be made
before it was possible to complete the work on tee constitu­
This realisation was hastened by a recognition of tee
fact teat the king had decided to us© his power to delay
tee governmental reorganisation.
Although he had not used
M s veto power, he still had occasioned some delay by re­
turning tee decrees abolishing feudalism to tee Assembly with
a recommendation that they be ©hanged before he sanctioned
ft*© Assembly was displeased with tele reply.
With tee exception of & part ©f the clergy and tee
nobility, tee Assembly felt teat tee reply was ambiguous
and could not be interpreted as foreshadowing other than tee
most reluctant cooperation in the building of the new con­
Nevertheless tee dissatisfaction with tee attitude
of tee King had to be put aside by the Assembly as it was
Increasingly faced with the pressing problem of unrest among
the people of parts.
Grumbling, punctuated by sporadic out­
bursts of violence, welled up among the masses as bread be­
came scarcer and prices higher.
came more acute*
Conditions continually be­
In spite of the government*s purchases of
wheat Abroad— which apparently were not sufficient to offset
the poor crops of the two preceding summers--the loans which
Meeker had been able to get the Assembly to authorise only
after much pleading and long argument in the first days of
August* were nb^. being subscribed,
was on a virtual tax strike.
the citlzenry of France
fhe repeated decrees passed by
the Assembly stating emphatically that the old taxes were to
be paid until the new constitution was drawn up and adopted
went unheeded,
The taxpayers seemed content to stop with the
first lines of the new laws which stated that such and such
a tax was hereby abolished.
They paid no attention to the
qualifying clauses that came after.
Before this great popu­
lar feeling. His Majesty*© revenue collectors, already some­
what bewildered by the great changes that were taking place,
were powerless.
Agitation in favor of inflation to be
brought about through use of printing-press money increased,
and pamphleteers and newspaper editors who favored this
course attracted new adherents daily.®
An effort by one of the clerical deputies was made
to attach a rider, prohibiting the issuance of paper money, to
the decree that no taxes should be levied or no money should
be borrowed except by and with the consent of the representatives
of the people,
tels attempt felled as was to be expected.
It was only natural that the Assembly should refuse to re­
linquish this possible avenue of escape from the financial
chaos with which it was threatened*
the total debt of the nation had reached 4,262*
000,000 llvres by this time,
the budget of the French
government had not been effectively balanced since tee
days of cardinal Henry.
Even at the time of the meeting
of tee Estates general In 1789, the old debt amounted to llvres.
fo this already staggering sum had
been added 149,000,000 llvres t© redeem tee debt of the clergy,
450.000.000 llvres and 150,000,000 llvres for tee redemption
of the abolished judicial and financial offices respectively,
203.000.000 llvres for the repayment of caution money held
on deposit, and 100,000,000 llvres to redeem lay tithes.
Other items swelled tee total,
tee expenses of public wor­
ship and tee pensions of tee regular clergy, which together
would r a o m t to over 120,000,000 llvres, had devolved upon
tee state since the suppression of the tithes in August,
tee overwhelming sum of 622,000,000 llvres had to be raised
each year for tee running expenses of tee government and
tee payment ©f the Interest on tee debt.5
tele was tee financial situation when the uprisings
©f October 5 and 6 put an end to any possibility that the
ling and the upper classes could dominate tee Assembly.
to this time tee Assembly had, as a raatterof fact, refused
all new taxation, all loans except for Immediate and specified
purposes, and In every other way had acted to out off the
King* s credit *
This policy resulted fro® toe instructions
the delegates had received in toe cahlers that the financial
embarrassment of the kingdom
a constitution was adopted.
should not he alleviated until
At the time the eahiers were
drawn up, it was generally believed, and rightly so, that un­
less the reforms were made before the financial distress
of toe kingdom was relieved, they would possibly never he
In toe debates of toe Assembly could he heard echoes
of parliamentary debates that occurred In Stuart England
when toe power of toe purse was also used to win concessions.
It had become evident, as Mlraheau said, that ”Ho
power on earth could dissolve toe Assembly until Its work
was done.* At toe same time, It was equally evident that
toe consideration of financial problems could not he deferred
until after the completion of the constitution.*
The clergy waited no less impatiently than toe
king for toe Assembly to reach a financial settlement, hut
which would not affect their vested interests.
The op­
portunity for a mere settlement of financial difficulties
without thoroughgoing reforms had already passed.
The at­
titude of toe Assembly toward toe clergy began to harden.
In toe periodicals and pamphlets of toe time the
formation of public opinion can he readily examined.
following representative examples serve to show how toe
publicists whipped up opinion against the clergy.
Ho one is
important in itself, but multiplied many, many times they
become important as indications of the way people were think­
ing and being tau$at to think.
According to the Observateur^ several of the hi^ier
clergy, including the Abbe Montesquieu, met in the Chateau
of Conde, referred to as a *house of pleasure41 by the people
of Evreuxj
*fhe meeting gently aroused the curiosity of
the people in the neighborhood,
They think (and nothing is
more natural| that they were plotting against the Assembly
and the interests of the people.
The Bishop of fivreux was
accompanied by three women chosen to enliven the meeting.11
In a letter to the editor published on October 13,
the Abbe Montegquiou replied to the charges.
In this letter
he took great pains to explain the banalessness and unofficial
character of the meeting of the clergymen.
He declared
that the meeting was held for the purpose of uniting the
nation and that any talk of plots was ridiculous.
to the Abbe the three »women* referred to were a woman of the
neighborhood, her husband and his own sister.
*1 respect benevolence in all men; I even admire
it in a prelate,* acidly commented Fey del, editor of the
strongly anti-aristocratic ob^ervateur- in discussing the
Abbe1s letter in which he had asked for leniency in the
interpretation© of his actions because of his benevolence
toward his parish.
»But I do not see the connection which
could exist between benevolent acts and a meeting suspected
of plotting toe ruin of toe state.*
Two pamphlets were reviewed In the Chronlaue de
ffarls on October 6*
The first was entitled Refutation des
m m
2&& M $ m
it was
a reply to the famous pamphlet of toe Abbe Sieyes, pea
M m 2 m M a m { M C t e i f M m i ; ana.
was only one of several that appeared to oppose toe ably pre­
sented views of toe Abbe*
the second pamphlet, Bes Franoaia
a ia Heitloxir sought *t© prove by fact® and many Important
authorities, that to# Church property belongs to toe nation.*
The reviewer commented that both to# pamphlets were *Inspired
by a vital, enli^tened patriotism.*
To a people fed ©n literature of toe type Just de­
scribed any reports discrediting toe clergy were readily
It was Just at this time that toe banquet was
held which precipitated toe riots and other events of
October 5 and 6.
This was the dinner given according to
custom by the newly arrived palace quard for to# Versailles
The dinner was characterised by to© usual pro­
testations ©f loyalty to toe Sing and Queen, which at an
earlier time would not have excited comment.
After to# ban­
quet toe guests, with the King and Queen and court, attended
a play In the royal theatre; according to reports, the whole
audience cheered enthusiastically during a scene in which
the revolutionary cockade wa© trampled underfoot.
taneously whit# cockades of toe Bourbons and black cockades
of the Church appeared a® if by magic and were distributed
to to# excited, applauding crowd.
*An aristocratic voice
shouted, 1Down with the colored cockades; the black on© is
Subsequently many different versions of this affair
wear© described* but this Is the only important one, since
It was the story accepted by the Parisian populace; it was
the printing of this report that provided the impetus for the
movement which swelled into the march of the women on Ter-*
The association of the interimtlonal black cockade
of the Church with the white cockade of the Bourdons indicated
to the people of Paris the continuation of the old alliance
between the crown and the clergy.* which had always meant de­
privation of the people*s liberties*
A well grounded rumor
was abroad that the court party was intriguing to transfer
the King from Versailles to the Fortress of Metz where the
loyalty of the army could be depended on* and from whence he
could dictate terms to the Assembly.
port for this w e
Petitions asking sup­
were secretly handed about, and many of
them were signed by members of the clergy.®
Thus another
item was added to the rapidly increasing list of offenses
charged to the clergy.3-0
Charged as It was with suspicion* the atmosphere
of paris gave credence to whispered rumors.
That these rumors,
in spite of their preposterous nature, were potent was indi­
cated by the allegation made on the floor of the Assembly
by Halliard and a crowd of fifteen fishwives whom he brought
with him,
After their appeal to the Assembly to take mea­
sures to relieve the shortage of bread in Paris, they charged
that the Archbishop of Paris had given a baker a bribe of
200 llvres to suspend his work*
It was impossible to sustain
this charge against the Archbishop de Juigne, who was well
known throughout the capital city for his almsgiving*
lowing import *s successful defense of de Juignd, and the
proof of the falsity of the charge, the accusation was then
leveled against Oregoire.
After a second failure to make the
charge stick, it was hurled indiscriminately at all the clergy
by Malll&rd and M s crowd of women*
The wildness of these
actions in the Assembly itself showed how ready the members
as well as the people were to believe anything derogatory to
the clergy.
Another incident that threw additional light on
this attitude toward the clergy occurred in the same session.
Mounter, whose initially great Influence had been waning
rapidly as the temper of the Assembly became more and more
radical, had still retained enough of his earlier prestige
to be elected president of the Assembly this week.
turned the chairmanship over to the Bishop of Langres tem­
porarily; as he descended from the speaker*s rostrum, the
women danced and climbed on the platform and even attempted
to kiss M m .
Duquesnoy remarked that it was & most dis­
graceful scene for the highest legislative chamber of the
greatest people of the world.
In order to register their
disgust in the prose dings, the clergy filed out of the As­
sembly one by one, and as they left, the women spat at them
and shouted, "To the laap-post, to the lamp-poatl*12
Halliard lad, his crowd of fishwives fro© the As­
sembly to fora the nucleus of the ©oh of women which descended
on Versailles and forced the royal family t© move to Paris,
there were three major causes for this ©oh action, and the
clergy m s connected to some extent with each of them;
the rapidly spread report of the Versailles banquet; (g) the
discovery of the petitions to remove the King to Meta^f and
{3) the carefully fostered belief that toe bread shortage
would be relieved when toe King moved his residence to Paris.
The prevalence of this belief m i amply demonstrated by the
stouts of toe mob, as they roared out songs to toe refrain
of ‘•Here is the baker, toe baker*® wife, and the baker1®
little boy I#
as toe royal entourage was humiliatingly
paraded through the streets of toe capital.
This enforced removal of toe royal family to Paris
was another Instance where an apparently spontaneous out­
burst probably concealed a carefully laid plan.
There was
evidence that toe sponsors of toe plan believed that toe
pressure of public opinion in Paris would hasten toe King1s
acceptance of toe Revolutionary decrees,
immediately on
receiving toe news of toe King1® compulsory change of re­
sidence on October y, toe Assembly voted unanimously that
it was inseparable from toe Sing and started making plans
to move toelr deliberations to the city of Paris.
The decision to remove toe seat of the Assembly
to Paris was received with trepidation by ©any of toe deputies
who feared the Influence that the Paris mob might exert over
the deliberations of the body.
The wiadorn of moving the As­
sembly from Versailles to P&ris was questioned even by the
texM* »» outstanding continental newspaper
published in the &ow Countries*
It pointed out the influence
of the Parisian rabble al$at exert on the deliberations of
the group. ^
Some of their members even questioned that the
provinces would permit this change of location.16
There was
also much discussion as to whether or not the Deputies,
particularly the clergy, would be safe in p&ris.
the Parisians
had very little tolerance for those who opposed their views,
priests were insulted openly and were even frequently greeted
with shouts of "the ijlergy to the lamp-posts# and "down with
the Olergy.*
Even Talleyrand was not immune.
recorded this incident j
"The Bishop of Autun, known for his
popularity, was Insulted yesterday.11
priest-baiting had
become almost a fashion with the rabble.
The Abbe Cregolre demanded that the Assembly de­
cree measures of safety for the Clericals who were leaving
for Paris.
"The removal of the national Assembly,* he
said, "should be a matter of the most deliberate discussion.
Without speaking of the alarms that badly intentioned per­
sons can spread in the provinces in considering their re­
presentatives abandoned to the mercies of an armed people,
do you think that the Deputies of the Clergy can return to
Paris and brave in safety the outrages and persecutions
with which they are menaced?
In the meantime, sirs, what
is the offence of the ecclesiastics of this Assembly?
Because they have partaken of all the perils of this re­
toe greater part are respectable pastors known
for their seal and patriotic demotion.
*Xt wag an ecclesiastic who determined the Assembly
to appoint a committee to occupy Itself with the means of
providing subsistence for the people,
toe cures haws been
toe first to renounce, by a courageous reconciliation, the
absurd prejudices of their order.
It Is among these re-
pastors that are found toe zealous defenders of the
writing, M
the Abbe Clenget, Deputy ©f Amont, in a
firl §M. Itk |*ai,sffpif as eloquent as profound, has
pleaded notoriously toe cause of the unfortunate, toe serfs
on toe ecclesiastical lands, and aided powerfully their enfr&nehlseraent by toe enlightenment he has spread,
toe tithes
have been abandoned, toe priests have renounced their sur­
plice fees, they have consented first to the law which de­
fended for toe future toe plurality ©f benefices; they sub­
mitted Instantly because it would not have a retroactive
toey have, with eagerness, carried to toe patriotic
bank, gifts more in accordance with their seal than their
It is when everyone forgets what toey have done, and
when a blind effervescence menaces them that it becomes
necessary to speak for them.
ftWhat pay &© toey receive?
toe people of Paris
taunt and menace them most frighteningly.
pass but toe priests are insulted at Paris,
A day does not
you would think,
gentlemen, that for the honor of the French nation, for toe
success of this revolution, the Assembly should take pre­
cautions for guaranteeing the safety of the Deputies of the
01ergy whose persons yon hare declared inviolable and sacred.
If you belie VO you should hold toe session In p&ris, x demand
that toe national Assembly make new proclamations for toe
safety of toe persons of toe deputies of toe clergy.
fhe proposition of Oregoire was discussed in toe
session of October S, toere toe Deputy L&ule demanded that toey
have recourse to all possible means to prevent toe ecclesiastics
from being insulted.
frfhe terror of the Clergy,* responded another mem­
ber, #ls a panicky terror,
fhe honest man, whatever dress
he wears, is always respected and at paris more than else­
where .
this axiom would have made it necessary to admit
that previously an honest man was always recognised as such.
Several Deputies who had nothing to fear were filled with
heroism and opposed toe guarantees demanded by Cregoire.
Ihey demanded at toe same time that passports (permission
to leave toe country) should not be accorded to those Deputies
who were demanding them.
It was at this time that these de­
mands were greatly multiplied.
Fear had seised a great num­
ber of the Deputies of toe Glergy and toe nobility,
one of
toe tolrd-eetate deputies too had already hidden hie real
name under toe significant Bom&n name
“populus* said that
#toen toe defenders of toe fatherland sawtoe enemy, they did
not demand guarantees for their lives, toey would not quit
their flags.*
De lonnay took the view that those too wished
to leave should be permitted to do so under the pretext that
their loss would not be a great one
Several members demanded & new decree upon the inmplabfcilby of the repreeentative s.
Mirabeau opposed it, and
then In the course of the discussion of the passports which
followed* he declared* "Those who wish to go, go and we shall
be left in peace .*2^
%% would have been more Just to have
guaranteed* if possible, the inviolability of tee respectable
members who had everything to fear from a populace blind and
drunk with hate *
Moreover* it meant that the rest of the
Clergy would be exposed to outrages* and several &s$9bies
complained bitterly of the threats that were made to them.
A condition of Intense excitement prevailed.
were floating about that a list of the enemies of the people
among the Deputies was being circulated in yards.
A rumor
that the citizens of the Satnt-Anto!ne district were coming
to Versailles to
burn the(Chateau resulted in the placing
of cannon loaded
with grape shoton the streets.
wrote* "It seems
that the plans of those who have endeavored
to stir up the people
are going to be carried through.
have the King in Paris; they will have the property of the
The following day he wrote that he feared a
civil war in France if the Deputies from the provinces did
not use good judgment in writing their const! tutente. He
hoped that such a war would not occur and recorded his belief
that "if all honest men would join together to give the
Church property to the Ration*« it might be averted.25
%n spit© of efforts to restore their confidence, the
Clergy and nobility who were frightened at returning to toe
capital, continued to demand passports, and toe Assembly
granted them.
It was said that Mirabeau hoped in this way
t© be rid of them* and for this reason, particularly opposed
measures intended to reassure toe timid.2,4
On October t, the
&& Fferift reviewed a
pamphlet that condemned toe suppression of the tithes as un­
just, but dismissed it with toe observation that since Hthis
property had been given to the ministers of religion by men
too believed in this way they were serving toe State, toe
to toe State.
Assembly on this same day voted to send a
civic crown to toe friars of Salat Martin of toe fields; toe
of tola symbol of patriotism was in line with toe
of inscribing names on honor rolls and Inviting
patriotic citizens to appear before toe Assembly.
The pur­
pose of such recognition was to encourage further toe very
strong patriotic and national sentiments that prevailed.
The Friars of Saint Martin* $ were so honored because toey
had initiated the movement to turn toe surplus silver plate
of toe Ohureh over to toe Motion.
in toe evening session a deputation of Jews from
Alsace was received by toe Assembly; these Jews demanded an
equal status la toe French nation for toeir co-rellglonists.
A similar request was made toe next day on toe behalf of the
Pro teg tante by toe deputy from Strasbourg.26
This was
significant in that It showed the deeliae of the Catholic
power In a nation where less than a century before the Catholics
had been powerful enough to cause the expulsion from France
of all Protestants who would not renounce their religion.
Even though the request of the Jews and Protestants was not
granted at this time, it is worthy of note that the Assembly
received the® respectfully.
Up to this time the dominant group in the Assembly
had refused to permit any but palliative measures to be taken
on the financial problem,
they had voted new loans but had
refused to consider new taxes.
According to tsadem Be stael,
*fhe secret motive of such conduct in the Popular party was,
perhaps, a wish to find itself forced, by want of money, to
a step which it had much at heart, the appropriation of the
church lands.11
fhe idea of appropriating church lands was
steadily gaining new adherents as the necessity for dealing
with financial matters became increasingly apparent.
proposal to issue three-hundred million livres in paper money
guaranteed by the church lands appeared October 9.
In reality there were only three possible means
of meeting the financial problem*
(1) immediate collection
of large new taxes, which was virtually Impossible in view
of the disorganized governmental administration; (2) the con­
fiscation of the ©haroh property! and (3) the repudiation of
the national debt,
fhis last possibility was never seriously
considered, and only three days before, the Assembly had
again passed a resolution guaranteeing the payment of the
national debt,
fhis was. the third such resolution that had
been passed since June. w
It is logical that an Assembly
composed of men of substance and position, with strong
bourgeois a outlooks, would not consider repudiation,
members had a very great respect for property rights, and it
is probable that many of these members stood to gain* directly
or indirectly by the payment of the full debt,
it was cer­
tainly true that they would not countenance any proposals that
might Jeopardize the security of individual property under
tbwnaew government.
It was before an Assembly composed of this type of
men that the motion to confiscate Church property was made
by falleyrand, the Bishop of Autun.
In this action the un­
canny ability to pick winners which distinguished hi a long
and colorful life appeared for the first time,
fhe cynical,
pleasure-loving bishop divined at this early date that his
future career lay with the He volution rather than with the
Obviously It was tremendously important to the suc­
cess of the movement to confiscate Church property that the
motion appear to have the sponsorship of the Church through
its presentation by one of the members of the clergy.
It Is interesting to speculate on the motive a that
prompted this bishop of the Oallioan Church, scion of a
noble family, former agent-general of the clergy, and &
very likely prospect for a red hat, to take the initiative
la this manner.
Even careful examination of opinions voiced
by his contemporaries leave us in doubt as to why he was
willing to take this action at a time when the future course
of the Revolution m e ©till so uncertain.
Morris, the American minister to France,
wrote la his diary on October 8 that Talleyrand Intended to
use his plan for confiscating the church property as a means
of furthering M s ambition to succeed Becker, the leading
figure in Mi© ling1s ministry.
He added that the objective
was a good one but that he did not like the method of ac51
This conjecture does not seem to be a reasonable
one in view of the ©lose association between Mirabeau and
Talleyrand at this time.
The latter was certainly familiar
with lirabe&u *a ministerial ambitions, and could not fail
to see that Mr&be&n, by virtue of his tremendous power In
the Assembly, would gain more from the movement than could
Talleyrand himself*
Stewart©n saw the action as the result of a plot
by the Orleans faction dictated by Mlrabe&u.
*In the ocneiliabula of the Orleans faction, Mirabeau proposed, and the conspirators agreed, that Talleyrand
should be fixed upon to bring forward In the Rational As*,
sembly a motion of cosflocation, or to declare the posses­
sions of the clergy national property.#
(The most accurate
estimate of the value of this property places the amount at
5,000,000,000 IIwee.)
11The motive which actuated Mirabeau
In this instance was two-fold;
By mdaas of one degraded
and apostate prelate he Intended to humble the whole body of
the French clergy; and by making M m the mover of the question,
to alienee* If not to remove* the scruples of the vast majority
of the Nation, who, he well knew, even in the then perverted
state of France would look upon m e h unheard of pillage as
nothing less than sacrilege *
The motives ascribed by
Stewarton to the group planning the confiscation of the Ohurch
property were undoubtedly correct, but there is no evidence
to show that the action was the result of a deliberate plot*
The comment is significant, though, in emphasising the im­
portance of the factor previously mentioned, that of having
a member of the clergy present the motion*
That Talleyrand*& contemporaries also recognized
the significance of this factor is borne out by their com­
The fact that he had been the agent-general of the
clergy and in this position had been the administrator of the
church4© estates, made him In their eyes the recognized
authority on the financial affairs of the Ohurch.
One deputy
described the motion as **the Church acting through the organ
of the Bishop of Autun.*
one of the newspapers described
as rt& man who had left the nobility in order
to serve the party of the people*
It was a priest
who revealed the secret of the clergy*s wealth, and pointed
out its d e s t i n a t i o n . A n o t h e r typical description was this:
**It was a bishop who dared carry the first blow to the
colossal giant:
this prelate, the youngest, the most fear­
less and the most enlightened of the episcopal college, was
Mr. Talleyrand-perigord, who was at that time Bishop of
The editor of to© Journal 4© ffarls elaborated on
the same points
*The re was on this occasion a striking
example of the different impressions made by toe same truths
depending on whether toey are presented at this or that
moment and issue from this or tost mouth#
the Bishop of
Autun spoke on toe nature of the property of the Church,
following toe same principles set forth by M* da la Coste,
H&r&t toe Younger, and Chasset too had been rebuffed with so
little consideration, but no one would interrupt a church­
man who spoke In a good cause and against his own interests.
Another observer jrem&hked approvingly that *11 is good to see
a prelate recognize and acknowledge that the property belongs
to the Ration and that it ©an dispose of it without injustice.
hi mself makes no refernee in his memoirs
to his presentation of toe motion, except to say that he
sponsored legislation which led to the establishment of a
national bank.^9
This is not surprising, however, when it Is
remembered that toe memoirs of T&lleyrand the revolutionary
were written by Talleyrand the aging and successful diplomat,
who was primarily Interested in Justifying his actions to
an audience which had no sympathy with the earlier despolia­
tion of toe clergy.
s motion could not have caused anyone
who had followed his career closely in toe
preceding weeks.
He had given some indication of his posi­
tion as early as August 11, when he had secured the adoption of a motion
to© tithes back* rather than
“accepting them* from the elergy.40
Moreover, T&lleyrand
had earlier been appointed a member of a committee designated
to discuss guarantees for the loan of eighty millions livres
which had been asked in the session of August 27.
His mem­
bership on this committee gave him formal justification for
his speech on October 10.
A recent study of Talleyrand presents what seems
to be the most logical eaeplanatlon of his actions at this
This writer inclines to the opinion that a decision
had been reached by Talleyrand, Mirabeau, Buport, and others
that the confiscation of Church property offered the only
way out of the nation*s financial difficulties, and that
Talleyrand, in his capacity as Bishop of Autun and as one
of the leading churchmen of the country, could give the mo­
tion neater prestige than could any other member of this
This is probably why he was selected to make the
As to why he consented to do it, Brinton has this
to say;
^Talleyrand may at this Juncture have overestimated
the strength of the Revolutionary movement, and may have
decided that he could hardly break dramatically enough from
those of his old associates who had become reactionaries.
It seems more consonant with his character, however, to assume
that he took the step without any great Illusions, simply be­
cause he had already decided that what he most wanted to do
was to divest himself ©f his clerical characters. «
was well known that Talleyrand had entered on a churchly
career ©hiefly because his lameness seemed to bar him from
a career In the army or navy.
Appropriately, according to some contemporaries,
the motion on the Church property was made by a Bishop and
in toe halls of toe palace of toe Archbishop of Paris, who
had only a few days before fled toe country.^
A summary of falXeyr&sd* s speech made by another
contemporary seems worthy of inclusions
14He boldly proposed
that toe Assembly seek in toe alienation of the universality
of the wealth of toe clergy, a remedy
for the kingdom1s ills,
and developing a vast system of finance, he showed how one
would find there both a security for toe creditors of toe
State, and some facilities for toe liberation of the public
debt, by toe exchange of a portion of this property against
toe to ties of the national credit and finally toe means, solong-desired, of abolishing toe remains of toe hated salt
tax, and of blotting out by a general reimbursement the last
traces of to© disgraceful venality of taxes.
^Without wishing to treat the question of toe owner­
ship of ecclesiastical wealth, Ur. Talleyrand kept saying
that it was a constant point that toe clergy were not the
owner; that it is no lees certain that toe nation ha© over
all toe bodies which exist in its bosom, a very extensive
power; that if It cannot destroy the entire body of toe
clergy, because toey are necessary to the very religion it
professes, toe nation can annihilate the particular aggrega­
tions of this body which it judges harmful or simply useless,
and that this indisputable right to toeir existence causes
an 1remediate power over the disposal of their property; that
it can consequently appropriate for its own needs the wealth
of the different ecclesiastical bodies which it will Judge
must he suppressed, by assuring the maintenance of individuals.
1He still maintained that the nation has the same
right over the benefices without duties, equally contrary to
the principles and to the disposition of the founders; and
that it could have turned, from that moment, for the benefit
of the public treasury, the benefices of this kind which are
Vacant and destined to the same use all those which would be
empty in the future.
•Finally, * he added, *if they consult the basic
titles of Church property and the various laws of the Church
which explain the sense of it, it is certain that the only
part of the revenue from this property which really belongs
to the beneficed clergyman, is that which is really necessary
to his honest maintenance; that he is only the administrator
of the rest; that if the nation takes charge of this admini­
stration, and if by providing for all the objects with which
the beneficed clergy were charged with providing, such as
the maintenance of hospitals, of charity hoses, the repairing
of churches, the expenses of the public debt, it assures to
the bene flood clergyman the honorable maintenance which the
founder intended to accord him; he is certain that in this
case, by reducing the actual revenueb, the nation is not
ttachlng his real property.#44
falleyrandfs forceful language and excellent
choice of words make it necessary to include parts of his
speech as it was originally delivered in order adequately to
convey seme idea of the impression it made on his listeners.
*fhe State has for a long time had to struggle with
the greatest difficulties; none of us are ignorant of this
fact, and therefore, powerful means must he employed to
meet them,
ordinary measures have been exhausted; the people
are hard pressed on every side, and the slightest additional
burden would naturally he felt insupportable.
Is not to be thought of.
In fact, it
traordinary resources have Just
been tried, but they are destined principally for the extra­
ordinary necessities of the present year.
for the entire restoration of order.
We want provision
There exists one im­
mense and decided resource, and one which in my opinion
(for otherwise X should repel the idea) may combine with a
rigid respect for property.*
in this statement Talleyrand anticipated one of
the major objections which were to be presented so frequently
and with so much force in ensiling debates.
Its inclusion
also shows how well the Bishop of Autun knew the members of
the Assembly.
He recognized that their middle-class back­
grounds— many of the deputies of the Third Estate were
provincial lawyers— made it imperative that the proposal
to confiscate Church property be presented In such a way
that there could be absolutely no chance of its being thought
©f as establishing a precedent for a late disregard of
personal property rights.
"This resource, • continued Talleyrend, "appears to
me to lie entirely la the eeole sl&stloal revenues.
mean a
I do not
conirIbuttoo towards s&hil&lslitg the burdens of the
State proportional to that arising from other kinds of
property; this could newer be viewed in the light of a sacri­
fice .
tee operation I point to is one of far greater importance
to the Kation ••■■
"It appears to me that the clergy are not in the
position of other landed proprietors* because the property
they enjoy (and which they cannot dispose of) has been given,
not for personal interest, but for the performance of certain
"It would also appear that the nation, in view of
the extensive powers It possesses over all the bodies contained
within it, has a right to destroy, if not the whole, at all
events, portions of the ecclesiastical body, if they are con­
sidered hurtful, or even useless, and that this riight over
their existence necessarily carries with it an extensive
right over toe disposal of its property."
Sere he showed
the acquaintance of the eighteenth-century intellectual with
toe doctrine of utility that formed such an integral part
of toe philosophies of that period*
The French public as
well as toe Assembly had been well prepared for an argument
of this sort by toe multitudinous writings of Voltaire and
Talleyrand went on to say that "it is moreover
certain that the nation, precisely because It is the protector
of the wishes of the founders, can, and even ought to, sup­
press these livings which have become sinecures*
**Thus far there is no difficulty! hut the question
Is, can the nation also reduce the revenue of the actual in­
cumbents and dispose of a portion of that revenue?
appears to me one very simple answer to the arguments of those
who deny this right*
*However Inviolable may be toe possession of a
property which is guaranteed by law, it is clear that toe
law cannot change toe nature of toe property by guaranteeing
Itj and tost. In the case of ecclesiastical property, it can
only ensure to teach each actual incumbent toe enjoyment of
what has really been granted to him by toe act of his founds*,
How It is well known tost all toe foundation titles
of ecclesiastical property, as well as the various laws of
the Church explanatory of toe sense and spirit of those
titles, show that only that portion of the property which is
necessary for toe decent maintenance of toe incumbent really
belongs to him*— that he is merely the administrator of toe
re&minder, which remainder is really destined for the relief
of toe poor, or the repair of the temples of God.
If, then
the Ha tlon carefully ensures to each incumbent (whatever may
be the nature of his living) that respectable maintenance,
it will not be encroaching upon his Individual property.
at the same time, it takes upon Itself, as it has toe un­
doubted right to do, toe administration of the rest; if It
undertakes toe other obligations attached to these properties
such as the maintenance of hospitals and charitable institutions,
the repairs of the churches* toe expenses of public education*
etc.; if above all* these resources are drawn upon only at
toe moment of a general calamity* it appears to me that all
toe intentions of toe founders will be fulfilled* and full
justice will have been rigidly accompli shed. *
In this portion of toe argument fallsyrand very art­
fully combined a plea for justice to toe underpaid cures with
a definite political appeal to these same cures for their sup­
It should also be noted that the necessity for main­
taining hospitals* charitable institutions* and schools was
specifically mentioned*
It is entirely probable that many
of the priests attached to such institutions could easily
foresee toe possibility of better treatment and more ade­
quate livings when their expenses were met by toe State
rather than by the Ohuroh.
*ftas in brief recapitulation* I would state my
that toe nation may* without Injustice* in period of
distress* first* dispose of toe properties of toe
different religious communities which it may be able to sup­
press* ensuring at the same time means of subsistence to
toe incumbents; secondly* turn to immediate account (always
carrying out toe general spirit of the founders) toe reve­
nues of all toe sinecure livings which may be vacant; and
thirdly* reduce, according to a certain proportion, toe
present revenues of toe incumbents, whenever they shall ex­
ceed a certain given sum* the Nation taking upon itself a
portion of the obligations with whleh those properties were
originally charged.
**I have stated, gentlemen, the reasons which lead
©e to hell ewe that the eoele eiastioal property is national
If those reasons, which nothing has for an instant
shaken in my own mind, appear to yon of some weight in them­
selves, how much more weighty, how much more decisive must
they not appear under all the circumstances of the present
Let us look around us; the public fortune is
totterlng| its approaching fall threatens all other fortunes,
and in this universal disaster who would have greater cause
to fear than the clergy?
Invidious comparisons have long
been made between the public indigence and the private opu­
lence of many among us; let us silence in one moment these
unpleasant murmurs, so offensive to our patriotism.
Let us
deliver up to the Nation both our persons and our fortunes;
% e Nation will never forget the act. *
the language and phraseology used here show that
the powers of expression which were to make the speaker one
of the greatest diplomats in history were already well
his declaration that *the Nation will never forget
the act* must have been warmly received by an Assembly that
only a few days before had recorded an unquenchable trust
in its fellowm&n by assessing an Income tax of S b p e r cent
which was to be entirely voluntary.
•Let us not say that the clergy, merely from being
no longer landed proprietors, will on that account become
less worthy of public consideration.
the clergy will
not be less revered by the people because of their being
paid by the nation, for the toads of offices, ministers, and
even kings themselves, receive salaries without being the
less honored on that account*
fto clergy will tot be­
come odious to the people, for it is not from the individual
hands of the citi &ens that the minister of religion will
seek his tribute, but from the public treasury, like all
other mandatories of the government.
Do we not constantly
see tee people consenting to forget teat the functionaries
of the State are in teeir pay, and uniting with their generous
tributes tee personal homage of respect for men whose duties
are often opposed to their passions, and sometimes even to
ttolr interests?
ten shall persuade us to believe teat the
French people, whose sense of Justice is greater than teeir
calumniators would lead us to suppose, would withdraw teeir
grateful esteem from those who ought not, who will not, tec
cannot inspire them with any but virtuous sentiments; who
would pour into their bosoms the consolations of charity, and
discharge towards them at all times tee most paternal duties?
#Say not teat the cause of religion is bound up
with tele question* say rather, what we all know, say that
tee greatest act of religion which would redound to our own
honor, would be to hasten tee arrival of that period when
a better order of things will sweep away the abuses of cor­
ruption, and will prevent tee occurrence of teat multitude
of open crimes and secret offenses which are tee fruits of
great public calamities; cay that the noblest homage that
can be paid to religion, is to contribute to the formation of
a state of social order which should foster and protect tee
virtues of religion ordains and rewards, and which, In tee
perfection of society, should constantly remind men of tee
benefactor of nature,
fhe people, brought back to religion
by tee feeling of their own happiness, will remember, not
without gratitude, tee sacrifices white tee ministers of re­
ligion will have made for tee general good.
unites in demanding it*
public opinion everywhere proclaims
tee law of Justice, united to teat of necessity.
A few
moments longer and we shall boss, in an unequal and degrading
struggle, the honor of a generous resignation,
let us meet
tee necessity, and we shall seem not to fear it, or rather,
to use an egression more worthy of you, we shall In reality
not fear It*
Why should we then be dragged to tee alter of
tee countryt
Wo should be bearing to tit a voluntary offering.
Of what use is It to defer the moment?
teat troubles, what
misfortunes might not have been prevented had tee sacrifices
here In tee past three months been made In
as a gift of patriotism*
Let us show teen that
we wish to be citizens and citizens only, and teat we really
desire to Join in tee national unity which France so ardent­
ly longs for.
Finally, in ceasing to form a body which is
a constant body of envy, tee clergy will become an assemblage
of citizens, an object of national gratitude.*1
As tee above lines show, after appealing to Justlee,
self Interest, and love of country, he then warned the clergy
that tee loss of teeir estates was inevitable.
Me cleverly
pointed out tee advantages that would accrue to an apparent­
ly voluntary s&erifle, even though In reality so other course
was open.
According to his point of view, holding out to tee
bitter end was not advisable. Bo he urged cheerful acquiescence
to tee inevitable.
#In conclusion, teen, 1 would recommend that the
principles involving teat proprietorship of tee ecclesiastical
revenues ought to be at ©ace determined; and, to avoid all
appearance of equivocation, I would recommend teat it should
be decreed by the national Assembly that the nation is the
real proprietor, and can dispose of them in the public good.
tee Nation must at the same time pledge itself to preserve
for each incumbent that which really belongs to him, and in
order to provide for due settlement (in such manner as may
be deemed most fitting) should recognize tee obligations
with which these properties are burdened.*
tee speech received great applause in the Assembly,
and tee member® immediately voted teat 1800 copies be printed
and distributed, one for each deputy,
teis warm approval
was not shared by all tee members, naturally enough.
upper clergy had listened to tee reading of tee speech with­
out pleasure, and tee Cardinal de la Rochefoucault left tee
hall before tee Bishop of Autun descended from the speaker* s
telleyrand* s speech won wide approval outside tee
Assembly, as these oomments show.
*A motion important for
its results and Its effect upon the Revolution has attracted
public attention... .the Assembly and the galleries ap­
plauded furiously, the royal palace seethed, and undoubtedly
these chief events presage a very prompt extinction for the
clergy unless some unforeseen circumstance checks or side-
tracks the torrent of public opinion. *
*Mo means is so
sure, so productive, so Quick as the conversion of toe ec­
clesiastical wealth into national property.
Hie sketch of
toe Bishop of Autun should become a great picture , toon toe
Clergy makes its sacrifice, France is restored, credit is
placed on a solid basis, and toe people gain in assured
S*e Hodey, one of toe menders of toe Assembly, saw
In toe motion of Talleyrand *toe progress of philosophical
ideas.a He declared that *as a man and as a citizen he
(Talleyrand) Is profoundly convinced of toe danger of privi­
lege, of the trouble that caste causes in society.*
criticised toe hi#; churchmen for their attitude in con­
demning Talleyrand; according to him, toe sentiment, *he
who Is not with us. Is against us,* described toe clerical
attitude toward anyone who opposed their plans in any degree.
Talleyrand was, in toe clerical eyes, *®ore of a renegade
than a Christian who turns Mohammedan.*
In closing, he
remarked that the Church was not satisfied to be a part of the
State, but by Its attitude proclaimed its intention of
dominating toe State.^
That all the reactions of Talleyrand1s speech out­
side the Assembly were not so favorable Is indicated by the
fact that the clergy of M s own blshoprlo of Autun wrote
him a strong letter of protest.
in diplomatic but vague terms.
He replied to thkir letter
This elicited another pro­
test from them* but he did not answer, and the quarrel was
An interesting and probably fairly accurate glimpse
of the clergy *& opinion of Talleyrand Is found in the first
of many scurrilous biographies of this man.
it reports an
imaginary conversation between the Abbe Maury and Talleyrand
in which the former delivers this scathing indictment 5 **In­
famous Bishop* the shame and scandal of the clergy, the scum
of the nobility* the opprobrium of ail honest men* the
lowest* the vilest* the most contemptible of all swindlers*
you have wilfully betrayed a body of which you were the
trusted agent* and you have proved yourself a monster of
Ingratitude toward your King who had endowed you with the
wealth of that same body which you new trample upon* because
it was the strongest upholder of the Throne-
A second Judas*
you have sold your Ohurch, your conscience* and your King to
that same Jewish nation which toe rewarded you with its
cash for all hour heartless crimes.1
Quickly perceiving that Talleyrand1s speech was
too long and involved to serve as the basis for discussion,
Mirabeau secured a suspension of the order of the day in
order to present his own summary of the main points.
demanded that, the Assembly declare #(1) that all toe wealth
of toe clergy Is the property of to© Nation, and that It
(toe nation) be charged with presiding, in a suitable manner,
for toe expenses of worship and the livelihoods of toe mini­
sters; (g) that in toe dispositions made to secure toe livings
of toe ministers, toe cures be guaranteed not less than 1200
llvres annually, not including their lodging.*^8
#0ne of toe members demanded that tots motion and
that of the Bishop of Autun be postponed until Friday, when
they could be discussed at toe same time, and it was so de­
this motion of Mirabeau^ provided toe basis for
toe long discussions in toe following sessions*
During toe
course of these discussions more than fifty speakers on both
sides argued the question of the disposal of ecclesiastical
property, and more than ten sessions were devoted to toe de­
bating of this subject*®4
The leading figures in favor of
confiscation during toe ensuing debates were toe Comte
Mirabeau, tocuret, Buport, Chapeller, poule, petion, Carat
toe Younger, Dupont d® Nemours, treilhard, B a m & v e , toe
Due de Bochefoucault, and toe two Abbes, Dillon and Oouttes.
toose too most opposed the movement of confiscation were the
Abbe Maury; toe Abbe Eymar; Boisgelln, the Archbishop of Aim
Camus; Malouet; to© Abbe Monteqquiou; pellerin; Bethlsy, the
Bishop of Uses; the Viooste Mirabeau; toe Blshop of Clermont;
and Cortois de Baler®, toe Bishop of Mimes.
Bather than treat each speech as an entity in it­
self, it appeared preferable to group the main points made
by the speakers of each side.
Chapter III takes up the
arguments advanced by the supporters of the clerical cause,
while Chapter IT takes up those presented by their opponents.
BevolutlQBa dg ■XxtattXllma. at Paris. 3 oetobre, p. is.
Chronlttue de Paris. No. 12, 3 oetobre, p. 13s.
Mamas, The Frensh Revolution. p. 95. A lecture by
3. ft. Andrews delivered June 15, 192$.
Ququaenov. T. 1, 2 oetobre, p. 385.
L'Bbserwateur. 6 ootobre, p. ITS.
I.*Qbaervateur. No. 28, 13 ootobre, pp. 221-223.
p. 3.
msi&, no.
44, « ©otobre, p. its.
m x i& * t. 3 , 7 ootobre,
De la Bretonne. Lea Bhite Rgvolutlonalres. p. 75.
Ferrleres, Meaolree. T- 1, p. 271.
Weber, MfiBfilgSat T. 1, pp. 422-427.
& ootobre, p. 2?e.
Parle. 3-7 ootobre, pp. 3-4.
Methles, ©p. eit., p. 53. The Parisians eeemed to have
overlooked the fast that black was the Queen's oolor
as well as the oolor of the Noman Church, and so the
distribution of the black ooekades may well have been
only an expression of loyalty to the Queen.
Fallly, Meaolrea. T. 3, pp. 416-417.
(L&otppoeta were frequently utilized as gallows.)
Journal de ququeBnov. T. 1, 7 oetobre, p. 401.
Weber, BlfflpljCfift, pp. 452-455.
Journal de Buaaeanoyf T. 1, 7 oetobre, p. 407.
j&jWtfcg M
te-Tde 20 oetobre, p. 3.
J s a W l M Uteueanoy. T. 1, 7 ootobre, p. 414.
Ibid., p. 414.
IsaCjW*, S&
JCM-yP.^ael., © oetobre, p. 283.
SS-MftPfilLg, T. 4, 8 oetobre, p. 434
Le Point du Jour. T. 4, 10 oetobre, p. 264.
L'Aasemblee Rationale. T. 4, 8 oetobre, p. 437
Journal £g, HuaaeaRor. 7.1, 3 oetobre, p. 418.
Jpurnal da ntcmaaBoY- T. 1, 9
Buchea at Houx, Hlatolre w a — 4ata^Jer T. 3, p. 164.
,SKgBJ,<aa Jft EbTAfi. No- *7, 9
.at. £ m a a
27. Bucbes
oetobre, p. 423.
oetobre, p. 185.
#>• » , 10 oetobre,, p. 8.
Houx, op* alt*, p.* 166*.
2e stael, S m M & M M m t SSL Sb& n m p h Baaolutlon.
p. 117.
teaiditg de Paris* 10 oetobre, p. 181.
SO. , ffimgmmn M
M & B * 7 oetobre, p. 171.
Morris, Anas Oarey,
Morris- 7. 1, p. 171.
Matbiss, op. eit.# p. 98.^
stewarton, m m & m
V. 1 , p p .
j&sgz £&&
s£ fl*JL M U S I M M * M
8 0 -.8 1 .
14$ Letbre.s ,&e ffi* 4^ Bouehette. de Versailles, Oct. 11,
17897 this is an unnumbered collection ofoontemporary
La Monlteur HBlverael. Mo. 87, 9-10 novembre, pp. 353-355.
JftfflgnqA J& £&2iS, 7. 2, 13 oetobre, p. 1313.
Evolutions §& Versailles gt Parle. 8-14 oetobre, p. 54.
aassateft an J&S. E H H 2 S $& S S & M x m A
de Broglie, p. 42.
Hadelln, L., S 3 m m & St SM,
Ouettee, 7. 12, p. 183.
Brinton, 0., SM. U.T<?S gt M ? 3 g M g »
Journal, de Baaaeanov, T. 1, p. 414.
Le Mealtour anivergel. No. 87, 9-10 no ventere, pp.. 353-355.
la 9111a
j££ Provincea. §1 oetobre, p. 81.
edited by the Due
P- 78.
PP- 73-74.
L& BfiAeJj JE Jour. 7. 3, 11 oetobre, pp. 872-280.
ym&EkS&a 2§£tel, So. 97, 10 oetobre, p. 8
M w m k £& 3& a u » ak-i m fiT-allsaas. 11 oetobre,
p. 45.
Courier da Broyense. No.B3. 12-13 ootobre, pp. 7-19.
Courier de Provence. So. S3, 13 ootobre, p. 8.
So. 80, 12 ootobre, p. 200.
ga.u.Uaaa mUflnals £a&
■solution §8. 1789. Ho. B, p.
s& Ms. £mz±xi8&&,
S4n4raux et de
SmmfH M l& l i l M
1&. loaographe. f . 5,
le iie e , B&ags, . m t T O i flL&JEla&s, P* 91.
ilabop. Sl£.totou,* dialoguebetween
the Bishop of Autun and the Abbe Maury, a preels of the
life of Autun, parls, 1846, Quoted in HeCabe, Talleyrand.
p. 88.
timumi, M, Paris. ?■ 2, 13 oetobre, p. 1318.
M 3£jj£> 13, oftobre, pp. 299-300.
ProeAa farbal. So. 68, 12 oetobre, p. 2.
SsmagkM Baaueenoy. 7. 1, 12 ootobre, p. 430.
Journal, de paplpT.T. 2, 13 ootobre, p. 1318.
SIoetobre, p. 81.
13 ootobre, pp. 4-32.
sima. 4ft Qigyg*
t m m m M m of a
Another tease and bitter scene in the long and
varied drama of the Church history wag unfolded as the de­
bates on oonf1soation began*
one can imagine the mixed emo­
tions with which the members of the clergy spoke and listened,
as they saw how with slow
the nation was fastening
the Church had possessed
many* many yearsla a
attempt to remove
fingers, were as varied as their ©motions;
some spoke with anger* thundering platitudes or cleverly
contrived logic; some spoke in whining or beseeching tones*
sighing the sufferings and sacrifices of the clergy as
individuals| and some spoke with quiet sincerity, trying to
weigh objectively the claims of Church and nation.
In general the arguments they presented could be
grouped under seven headings; the speeches and relevant
comments will be discussed in terms of these groupings:
Confiscation would be unjust
Confiscation would not be economically advantageous
Confiscation would be dangerous
The sale of the property would be difficult
The people would not approve
Previous confiscation was no argument
Substitute measures were possible.
This arrangement does not necessarily imply that eaeh speaker
emphasised only one of these points, for frequently several
were mentioned by the same man*
But it seems advisable, for
toe safe# of eoherene©, to discuss toe clerical claims in
terns ©f types of argument rather than in terms of indivldual speeches.
The sequence is arranged for discussion ia
terns of logical association rather than in terns of rela­
tive ©laph&sts.
It happen© that arguments one, two, and
seven were emphasised most of all, with one receiving toe
greatest attention*
The arguments insisting that confiscation would be
unjust either stressed concepts of legal rights and ownership
or made pleas of a more personal nature for toe clergy,
will be easier to follow toe discussion if w© include a
brief outline of the lines of reasoning:
Concepts of legal rights and ownership
1* Hie Church as owner
£. Other definitions of toe owner
personal pleas for the clergy
fh© sacrifices of to© clergy
The debt owed to tee clergy
Unfortunate effect© of fixed salaries
from toe State
Of toe argument© which took toe more logical and
objective approach, some insisted teat the Church as a cor­
porate body owned the @ec le alastleal wealth, and should have
undisputed possession of it.
Hie right of each landowner,
a© a usttfnietuary, was very important, and he could not be
dispossessed, declared lethisy, toe Bishop of Uses.
Here no
distinction was made between toe ownership of individual
lancUowners and that of corporate bodies like the Church; he
apparently assumed that the two types of ownership were identi­
He farther maintained that the Church like the State was
hat a collection of individuals and therefore had as much
right to own property as had the State,
thus he was placing
the two institutions on an equal ha sic, ignoring the conten­
tions of other speakers that the State had existed prior to
the Church and had in fact created the Church.
The important
fact to the Bishop was that the clergy "possess with good
faith under the law.«^
This opposition to Revolutionary
measures was genuinely sincere on the part of the Bishop of
Usee, as is shown fey the fact that he refused to resume his
old post at the time of the Bourbon restoration because all
of the ancient privileges were not restored.
That the State could not Invade the property rights
was alec asserted fey the lawyer, pellerin, a deputy in the
Third Estate; he cited the respect shown to Church property
fey rulers such as Constantine, Clovis, Charlemagne, Charles
the laid, Hugo the Croat, Henry the Third, and on down to
Louis XVI.
He went further to say that the nation as a
sovereign could control the uses to whloh the property of
the Church was put, but it could not determine the ownership
of the property.
The Church was clearly the proprietor in
view of toe functions it had performed;
it had received, ac­
quired fey exchange, acquired fey gifts, etc.; it had also built,
cleared, improved.
These were the functions not of a usu­
fructuary or life tenant but of a proprietor.2 Opposing
speakers pointed out, however, that these functions did not
necessarily establish title to the property, as the Church
was simply holding it la trust for the nation; this relation­
ship would permit the same functions cited fey Pellerin.
m e learned Abb© Montesquieu, a nobleman fey birth,
was quite naturally an ardent defender of toe privileged of
order and royalty*
He used reasoning somewhat similar to
that of pellerin when he stated that toe Church had toe right
to receive what the State had toe right to give; therefore
it was a full proprietor.
In rebuttal:
But other speakers made two points
(1) toe mere act of receiving could not
establish proprietorship, and (2) toe State had not iriven
to toe Church In to© sense indicated.
to© same objections could fee directed at a similar
contention made fey toe Archfeiahip of Aix, that toe title or
property rights passed to toe Church with toe gift*
cannot infringe on toe law of reception... .The deeds of gift
are valid, perpetual, and irrevocable.
This prelate, one
of toe strongest and worthiest members of toe clergy, had
favored union of toe orders and abolition of feudalism, but
opposed giving up toe tithe and toe Church lands*
Still another of toe objective arguments which
sought to prove tost toe Church truly owned its wealth was
presented fey toe apstere jansenlst, Araand-Caston Camus,
counsel to the French clergy, who gave toe first speech de­
fending toe Church.
His membership on toe ecclesiastical
committee appointed to consider carefully and report a plan
of reform for toe Church had given him an opportunity to
study this problem.
fbts, plus the fact that la other matters
he m g a reoogni zed leader of the most liberal group, made
him a logical first speaker for the clergy.
Moreover, his
reputation as a research man won him a respectful hearing from
tee Assembly*
It would be foolish and futile, he Insisted,
to dispute an ownership enjoyed by tee Church for over 14G0
therefore it was mot a question of proving tee owner­
ship but a question of whether or sot tee owner could be dis­
neverthelesst he started his speech with an exa­
mination of tee first part of Mr&be&ttfs
properties of tee clergy belong to- tee M&tion?*
#B© tee
Me based his
discussion on definitions of ownership. Many lawyers defined
ownership as tee
abuse. According to this
definition the clergy was not a true owner, but he considered
tee definition absurd.
*Gan tee right to abuse ever be right?
According to moral laws, no, but according to civil laws,
I certainly abuse my fortune if I spend it in voluptuous
living, but no civil law can prevent me.
I abuse my property
if 1 sell my land and lose the proceeds in foolish specula­
tions . fhis is teat tee law is obliged to allow to a true
owner, and teat is not permitted to tee Qlergy. #
Me main­
tained that this prohibition did not invalidate tee clergy* &
right to be an owner, sine© a miner could own and yet not
dispose of property.
A preferable definition of an owner
would be erne who ©an, and who has the right to, prevent the
damages which people could cause to his property.**
light tee ©l&rgy could be considered an owner.®
In this
The second point made by Gaums, Halting toe powers
of toe State to supervision of toe property, was similar
arguments presented by pellerin.
After defining toe clergy
as *a society of men too are governed by other men and who
exist in toe State because toe State has wi shed to profess and
to conserve a religion, # be continued by saying, #fhe state
has toe right to watch over toe society and over the manner
In which It fulfills its duties; but toe State has no authority
over toe interval organisation of that society****
A third point made by Camus was that a moral body
could be an owner as could an individual; he objected to
Thouret*s distinction between the ownership of individuals
and that of groups*
While Camus was an ardent Revolutionary and re­
mained so in spirit all his life, toe Revolutionaries were
unwilling at the pre sent moment to admit toe sincerity of one
of their champions when he opposed them on this single issue
of Church property*
One radical newspaper claimed that
Camus could Just as well have started his speech with toe
words, *X-plead for toe clergy, against toe Nation.«
was followed by toe comment, »fhe honorable member used in
this discussion all toe verbose erudition of a Journalist
and all toe nonsense of a lawyer paid to defend a bad cause.
Xet in everything in Camus1 past career pointed to his sin­
cerity and his intelligence*
Still another analysis in terms of objective con­
cepts of ownership was made by toe Abbe Eymar in a speech
that according to one contemporary was ttw©ll studied and
profound, * and according to another, *& long repetition of
most of the arguments of C a m s .**& Bis first major contention
in the objective classification of arguments involved defining
ownership and then assuming the ownership of the Church with­
out attempting to prove it.
His definition of ownership added
little to that given by Came*
*$he fundamental quality of
ownership is the possession which gives to the owner the
exclusive right to enjoy.
Before ownership* the law of the
strongest was the only one which governed possession, or
rather, there was me law; it was in order to establish one
that families Joined together; and theme arose the constitu­
tion of the State....The hast constitution is that in which
ownership is the most respected.**
After these safe generalities, he turned to
Rousseau and M s ideal primitive society to prove that the
owner had the right to resist the usurpation of his ownership;
he refrained from stating the parallel with the Church and
confiscation* although the implication was clear.
«But the
ettisen who has submitted (to society) has the right to com­
plain when his ownership is attacked, because he is Joined
to society, not to enjoy common property, hut to enjoy his
possessions separately under the shelter Of the common pro­
fe follow this argument through, it quite logically
followed that the principle of the greatest good for the
greatest number would have to be invoked to Justify any altera­
tion in the existing condition under which property was held.
Here he admitted as did his opponents that the will of the
majority should determine any changes that might be made.^
At this point ho went beyond his opponents to
state, *Sut this majority can wish only that which Is right;
for each citizen has only promised to obey on the condition
that this majority would do nothing unjust.11 But a corollary
of the Abbe1* reasoning would be that any minority group
could secede from a society If the majority rule violated
their concept of their own rights*
Obviously the possi­
bility for an action of this sort could exist only in the
most primitive society where it would be possible to effect
an actual physical removal to a new location with sufficient
economic opportunities to permit the constitution of a new
society; in a complex society, with practically a maximum
Utilisation of resources, the operation of the Abbe1s prin­
ciple would lead to chaos.
Symar* s concept of society was
very Idealistic since 11 predicated change or progress on
the basis of a citizenry sufficiently educated to under­
stand or realize that its own Interests were so closely
identified with those of society as a whole that they could
best be advanced by the promotion of the Interests of the
group as a whole.
Such ideal conditions did not exist in
France in 1789 any more than they exist In any country today.
His second major point, #The three orders which
male up the French monarchy could acquire as one body,
each order could possess and transfer property,*
lenged by one of the papers %
"This is false.
was chal­
The commons
of today, called by the disgraceful appellation of the
third estate > do not really ms&e up & tody; even the nobility
has never made as| acqui gitlons as a boyd; only the clergy
has presumed to do so, believing Itself authorised by its
self-assumed prerogative of only contributing voluntarily
to the expenses of the state.
A third point made by Eysar in proving the clergy
the true owner of eoole siastlc&l wealth, was that since the
King of France had not needed the consent of the nation to
endow a monastery, and since those persons who had endowed
hospitals and establishments of charity had done so with­
out the consent of the Ration, therefore the clergy was the
actual owner of this property.
Moreover, if the Motion
really were the owner of the Church property, it doubtless
owned other property; here he challenged the opposition to
designate any other property owned by the Nation as a whole.
Fymar*s final point dealing With legal defini­
tions purported to show that the Assembly in the confiscation
action m s usurping the functions of the judiciary.
the clergy made up a part of the National Assembly, it
could not be Judged by It.
We based this statement on a
quotation from Bousseau* g Spojai Qont^aot to the effect that
*th© essence of the law is that it must come from all and
abp3y equally to all •*
As the ffqjnt du Jqur commented, «lt
was thus the destiny of Bcusseau to be cited by the clergy
themselves In the Assembly of a Nation that he had enlightened,
and to which the social contract had given the elements of
The eloquent Abbe Maury, the clergy*s most effective
orator, like the Abbe Eym&r argued that since the Assembly
would be talcing upon Itself a function that actually belonged
to the Judiciary, the legislative body eould not deal with
the question of the ownership of Church land*
1To what
tribunal, then,« objected the Point $u ffQurf *®ould the
Nation carry Its ease when it was necessary to reform the
various abuses which were devouring it?
ft would then be
unable to abolish the feudal regime, to wipe out the im­
politic difference between the orders, t© establish the power
to veto, to determine the privilege s of the provinces; in
other words, with tee system proposed by tee defender of tee
wealth of tee clergy, tee Nation and Its representatives
„ 1©
> would be bound by paralysis.*
Like MontesquieuA, Maury
believed that tee mere right to reopj,ye made tee clergy tee
legitimate owner of what It had received.
#The clergy
possesses because it has acquired, or received.
Let one
prove teat it has usurped.
She Abbe also scoffed at Thouret1s distinction
between tee ownership of individuals and teat of groups; he,
according to Mlrabeau1s paper, believed teat he had found a
great argument In this feudal principle of tee right* p£
epclayq, which he supported with tee maxis that tee favors
©f tee primes are unchangeable, that tee gifts of benefices,
made by our kings, could not be revoked....As if kings
could give domains, which could never be revoked by law I
fo support his reasoning he quoted from Rousseau's
fealie, which established the principle of the right of owners
ship of a first occupant who expended labor on his property*
toe folnt dp .Topr ridiculed his choice of a reference}
#Ib was thus the singular destiny of Rousseau to be cited by
the w r y ones who persecuted him, and what is stranger still,
to be Invoked by the very person who, in his first motion
concerning the ecclesiastical goods, had called the author
of fejalip ♦the disturber of the Ration* *
then with true Usury bombast he thundered, «Only
a idsspot in toe throe® of delirium can take away what others
possess, but toe legislative body ought not to be a despot,
for its strength lies in justicei#
An unimpressed com**
manta tor summed up Maury* a blasts as follows?
#8e has, ac­
cording to hie custom, expressed almost aa many imperti­
nences as words.
It wa© the cause of toe provinces that he
was going to defend against toe capital, that of owners
against spectators.
In spite of his rhetoric, no one misId
understood the Impure aoure© of M s mission.4
unimpressed commentator observed 44that ^aury*© reasoning
was not sound, and that the clergy of today had no right to
enjoy accumulated riches even though some of them were ac­
quired by the honest industry of earlier generations.#*^
to© general distrust of toe Abbe’s florid logic
and of his motives was likewise revealed in an incident
Which occurred on this same day.
When toe Abbe appeared in
the Assembly in a colored outfit (toe clergy traditionally
wore Mack), in a Revolutionary cockade, with a crop in
his hand, a Jester called from toe gallery:
#He takes off
his surplice and hie decency at the s&ia© timet*
resounded with applause *
The galleries
However, the Abb£ made a quick
rejoinder; standing on om
of the higher steps, he turned
toward the gallery where this eitlsen was sitting with
several women, and shouted*
H8e quiet, scoundrelst Silence,
$ho told you to applaud?ff^
Other clerical speakers A c emphasised legal con­
cepts in their defense of Church ownership gave a
twist to their arguments by admitting that the
did not rest In the corporate body of the Church,
they did not agree on where it did reside.
that since ownership was
M&louel believed
determined by the express Inten­
tions of the donors, the property belonged to theclergy
to the poor.
In expanding this point he asserted that the
property belonged to the separate Church establishments,
the implication being that in that ease one could not confis­
cate without violating the precepts of private ownership.
These parishes, monasteries, and bishoprics possessed their
own individual endowments.
Like peilerin he considered the function of the
nation to be that of watching over the use of the property
and of reforming abuses.
HThe clergy possess— that is a fact,
its titles are under the protection, the safe-keeping, and
the disposal of the M&tlon; for the latter disposes of all
public establishments by the right that is has over its own
legislation and the religion that it pleases to adopt; but
the Hatlon exercises neither a right of property nor a
right of sovereignty; J«st as its representatlve s cannot dis­
pose of the crown bat only rule over the exercise of author­
ity and royal prerogative; Just as they cannot destroy the
public religion without a special mandate and reduce to
nothing the endowments which are assigned to it; but only
watch oyer its used and reform the abuses and dispose of all
public need and all which would exceed the care of the altars
and the comfort of the poor*1
Here we have one of the first admissions on the
part of tee clergy that tee nation could at least dispose of
what remained after tee needs of c h a n t y and tee expenses of
services had been taken care of*
Malouet elaborated his
point further by saying that tee representative of the nation
gathered in Assembly must recognise certain limit© to their
power, and teat tel© power m g a limiting and prescribing
power, and not the power to abolish.^
telle hi© argument©
did not convince tee proponents of confiscation, his speech
nevertheless ha© been termed the "weightiest and wisest
speech of the whole discussion on tee alienation of tee Church
In like manner tee Bishop of idmes placed the owner­
ship of property in tee hands.of tee Individual churches.
"tee sovereignty and surveillance belong to tee nation and
to tee Eing; tee admini stratlon and tee enjoyment to tee
A ©lightly different point was made by Le Brun,
who proclaimed teat tee property belonged to tee parish com*-
samltles, and that It was for them to decide what should he
dome about it*
He argued that each parish should have the
right to provide for its worship, for its hospitals, and for
its schools.
Sine© he spoke much less foreefiilly than those
who proposed similar views, his speech did not attract very
much attention*^
A more startling and arbitrary interpretation of
the question of ownership was that of Be&umetg, deputy of
the nobility, described by a contemporary as a
orator but prolific and imperturbable, who improvised rare­
ly. #S3
He Insisted that tee property belonged neither
the nation nor to tee Church but to (§©&.
He apparently
thought teat such a concept of possession would render tee
ecclesiastical wealth inviolable In the eyes of the Assembly,
though they seemed to remain unimpressed,
like Camus he re­
ferred to tee definition of ownership as tee right to use
and abuse, but instead of discarding tee definition as ab­
surd, he demonstrated tekfi on this basis tee nation had even
less reason to be sailed an owner than had the clergy;
•The nation has never used tee lands of the clergy, and
so it does not have tee right to abuse them.«
tell© tee
Hatton protected and guaranteed, the Church received and
administered; tee nation had tee surveillance and tee Church
the usufruct.
But •nobody is the owner of the lands of the
clergy— they are holy things.
te© hypothetical ease used by Beaumet% to illustrate
his point was criticised by the Lo^ogranhe.
Ibis case
supposed that *a benefactor gives 300 livres to the creditor
of a man to pay off his debts; 1 ask whether this man would
have the right to say to his creditor, *the 300 X lw es that
ay benefactor gave you belong to sae; give then back to me.,H
The newspaper, derisively remarked, **tels hypothetical case
has only a wisp of probability| but even this is eliminated
because It is true that the nation says to the administrators*
*1 wish henceforth to do the managing myself, to allot to
you what is needed to clothe you, to maintain you, and to
take ©are of the expenses of religion and the needs of the
poor myself.*
Mr. Be&umetz* debtor is
unjust, while the
gabion, by this act of wisdom, performs an act of Justice,
and uproots the tree of soclesiastic&l abuse®, whose proud
head so often rises above thrones, and whose roots, deeply
entrenched In the demons of riches, reach to abysses.11
fhis flowery commentator further ridiculed the
principle of divine ownership by citing a true rather than a
hypothetical cases
•Such was the principle of the canons
of Bhelms under phiXipp#-August, to whom they refused sub­
sidies, under the pretext that their wealth was the patrimony
-of the poor-
fhis prince, who knew his rights as the re­
presentative of the nation, avenged himself by abandoning
the lands of those gentlemen to the mercies of their enemies.
The canons recognised their mistake and begged for the pro­
tection of the public power,
phllippe gave it to them, but
only In response t© their second plea* to the first he had
replied with one of their own expressions*
Bod for you.* *
*1 will pray to
Another sarcastic comment on the Be&umetz point of
view 01tea toe following parallel}
»This opinion of Mr*
Beaumetz reminds up of a political trait of Louie XI; after
having taken possession of some part of Bourgogne to which
he had no right* he paid homage to toe Holy Virgin, declar­
ing that now she alone was sovereign of It and that no one
could seize it without impiety*
These same refutations would apply to another priest
whom toe m M M m
m & M m M L sported as presenting toe same
MThe ownership of lands belongs neither to toe
clergy not to the Kation.
The clergy is the administrator
and it must render an account of its adminl strati on only to
toe nation only watches over them and it must suppress
all abuses} it must destroy that which Is harmful but save
that which is useful**
This is almost a verbatim repetition
of toe statements discussed above•^
toe same point of view was implicit in a state­
ment by toe Bishop of Clermont to toe effect that «religion
is our dearest treasure, and we regard temporal goods as
useful only for its maintenance and propagation.M
Q®wx.m M
As the
$ m m m & m a r k e d , the Bishop did not defend the
principle of toe property of toe clergy; he considered the
bastion only in terms of its effects.8^
Other clerical arguments attempted to prove toe
ini notice of the proposed confiscation by taking toe fora
©f more personal pleas*
Some emphasised the sacrifices that
toe clergy had made In toe performance of their duties.
Bishop of UzSs spoke of the greet sacrifices made by the
clergy for the lotion, and later mentioned that the clergy­
men cm entering the C&iuroh had voluntarily renounced their
share of their family1?* property.
This was the same thing
the Abbe Maury had referred to when he spoke of them giving
ii£$l gg had alee pointed out
*s enjoyment of the property under discussion
was *laden with obligations.41^
More vague tot
emphatic was the Archbishop
of Aix, who said that the clergy has made 44sacrifices.41
a^entlsraen, you will be touched by the lot of 200,000 of
your brothers whom you are going to reduce to horrible con­
Another type of sacrifice made fey the clergy was
its giving up of personal freedom in forming a permanent
affiliation with the Church,
the Afefee Montesquieu chided
tee unfeeling Assembly as follows:
*fhey are trying to
establish teat a churchman is a public functionary like a
soldier or a magistrate, tot do they not realise that the
individuals tec compose tee army or aaglstraiure are not
Inseparably Joined to these respectable bodies?
We are
Joined to tee ghureh forever, and tee nation will not, the
Hatton cannot change our position.
Meanwhile tee Afefe# Maury further dramatised tee lot
of tee clergy fey asking, 41Why despoil tee cures, who have
an income of less than 1200 livres?
Why despoil tee rich
cures who help the poor, tee orphans, and Who make loans to
France wants to Increase the strength of all cures,
not tiapoverisix those who have a more opulent endowment.**
the Fplpfr.£&
suspicious of Maury*s professed altruism,
thought that #It was undoubtedly to make partisans among the
©Iddle-el&ss clergy that the ora.tor pretended to defend their
Another personal plea to prows confiscation
was that of C&nrus, who referred to the debt of gratitude owed
fey the Assembly as well as fey mankind in general to the
Church agencies for the preservation of learning which would
otherwise hare been lost.
Aristotle* m
3amts, as the able translator of
&3®mk. MtiElS, naturally was keenly
aware of th® great service the monks of the Middle Ages had
rendered fey their preservation of the classical master­
This indebtedness seemed irrelevant to fhouret and
Dupont who asserted that the Church really owed the nation
the taxes from which it had unfairly been exempted.
for example, ted argued that had the clergy been taxed at
the same low rat® as the nobility, it would have paid the
State &jVO0,0Q0 Xiwyee in taxes sine® X706.
The Indignant
Monte soulou argued that it was unseemly to develop such a
point of view in an Assembly devoted to the principle that
taxation should fee levied only fey the free consent of the
M& overlooked the fact that this reasoning implied
the free consent of all the people and was not intended to
provide a means fey Which minority groups oould exempt them­
selves from their share of responsibility In the maintenance
of government by withholding their consent to taxation*
tainly there was no reason to believe that the people of
Franc© would have exempted the clergy had taxation during
this period been levied in accordance with this principle.3^
the final type of personal plea referred to the un­
fortunate effects upon the priests that would result from
their receipt of fixed salaries from the State.
Both Malouet
and Usury contended that the revenues allotted for the
salaries of the priests would be drained off to meet the
needs of the army during a war or some other national emer­
gency; the prelates would thus be left helpless and desti­
As Malouet expressed it* #Many objected to the fact
that the churchman1s is a profession which is not salaried
like that of a magi strata or a military man; but one forgets
that these last two classes of citizens have other means
of subsistence* that soldiers deprived of their pay would
lack nothing so long as they were armed*
But what would be
the mainstay of the keepers of the altars if the public
treasury were powerless to satisfy any other obligations
but that of the army?
There are many unfortunate happenings
that would cause such embarrassment **
At the first sign
of a war* said Maury* payment at the clerical salaries would
cease* parishes would be abandoned, and the whole country
would mfter*
According to Camus a fixed Income for the clergy
would be unfair for another reason;
The number of poor from
parish to pariah varied a great deal; therefore the priests*
income should he elastic enough to t&ke this factor Into
What he failed to consider was teat if tee nation
assumed tee responsibility of providing for tee poor, it
would not expect tee costs of charity to come out of the
clerical salaries.3^
would m t m
mommmim Ammmmom
The second major point made in the clerical argu­
ments against alienation of tee $hureh lands was that con­
fiscation would not he eo©nominally advantageous*
group of clerical statements stressed one or more of six
foci of reasonings
Uncertainty of the value of tee lands
prohibitive else of the clerical debts
Draining away of income by absentee landlords
Resultant dependency of priests
Resultant increase in public taxation
general economic ineffectiveness or con*
fhe Bishop of Uzes was one of those who insisted
that confiscation would not be profitable because tee value
of tee ecclesiastical lands had been over-rated.
“The eal«a
oul&tloas made on tee ecclesiastical goods were false.11w
But whether or not their opponents over-estimated tee value
of Church wealth, it was characteristic of many of tee pre­
lates to under-estimate it*
Likewise tee Abbe Montesquieu demurred at tee
optimism of tee proponents of confiscation; tee value of the
lands was scarcely determinable.
He pointed out “the causes
whioh must render useless the calculations and observations
made concerning; the value of the goods of toe clergy.»*°
M U M £k 3 m
Xn eoffimentlng on
Montesquieu*s speech, remarked, "When be wished to show that
toe ecclesiastical wealth was insufficient for toe purposes
of toe public debt, hie reasons made a strong impression, k4*
damns went a step further to say that since the
exact value of the Church estates was unknown, it would be
misleading to offer them as a guarantee for toe debts of
the S t a t e . O n e wonders whether these churchmen really be/
H e w e d that toe revenues of toe Church were grossly exag­
gerated, whether they were truly unaware of toe vast resources
of that body, or whether they wilfully chose to misrepresent
toe wealth to discourage toe opposition.
Closely related to tola line of reasoning was that
which averred that little would remain of toe clerical wealth
after toe Ration had faced toe looming macs of church debts,
toe Bishop of Cads, who had already stated that toe value
of toe lands was over-rated, added that toe total clerical
debt could not be known, for toe debjte
of toe dioceses, of
the monks, and of toe private institutions were an "unknown
fhus he concluded that "the seising of these goods
would not be an advantage for toe present generation, and....
this invasion would be neither Just nor useful for toe
generations to eome .**^
the rotund, belligerent Vieomte Uirabeau, deputy
of toe nobility and brother of the dynamic leader of the
opposition, also contended teat tea Ghnreh debt would be pro­
hibitive •
41When tee sale is made, there will remain unavoid­
able debts for us tb meet*
She calculation of tee ecclesiast­
ical goods proves that these debts would greatly exceed tee
,4 4
tee Vteoate was devoting himself primarily to
»treating tee inconveniences of tee alienation of tee ec­
clesiastical goods.*
But as teds was not tee order of tee
day, he was often interrupted, until he complained that tee
logic of tee lungs seemed more necessary in, the Assembly te%n
did tee logic of reason*4^
Small wonder, for this aggressive
individual, who had been a soldier in tee battle of Vorktown
in the American Hevolutlon, was tempestuous either as 11 stern­
er or speaker; he himself constantly interrupted other de­
puties when they had tee floor*
A third line of argument concerning tee economic
disadvantages of confiscation held that absentee ownership
of tee Church lands would be & serious handicap to the nation.
Beaumeta, as a proponent of tels view, was speaking specifical­
ly of tee effect upon tee Belgian provinces, where he claimed
teat half of tee. financial property consisted of ecclesiasti­
cal goods.
ttIndeed, if you decree their sale, it is evident
that only a very small number of native property owners will
acquire teem, so teat tee properties will pass into tee
of strangers*
If you do not sell teem, and if you
to tee creditors of tee State, the provinces
of Belgium will suffer a still greater loss,
the Indifferent
creditors will be interested only in reaping whatever income
they can, while if strangers own the properties, they will
mot feel that certain charm which the earth should hare for
those who possess it.
This protest is based not on a privi­
lege but on a natural right that the income should be consumed
in the same spot from whence it comes,
the Belgian provinces
enclose very few abbeys, sc that if you deprive them of that
consumption, you reduce them to even greater poverty.«
On the other hand, he contended that the possession
of the lands by the clergy meant greater prosperity for the
But the hogographe scoffed at this contention that
Ghuroh ownership had been the cause of their dense popula­
tion, their riches, or their prosperity:
"That is one of
those paradoxes which one cannot hear without rebelling.
if the cause of the depopulation of empires contributes to
their powers
it would then follow....that the more bachelors
a State has, the more powerful it is#
Or one would say that
the fewer people a State has, the more powerful it is.
the Vleomte Mirabeau, in like vein warned the As­
sembly of the disadvantages of absentee ownership of the
"Bite will be able to outbid in the sales?
Genevese, the Dutch, the Imperialists who have royal posses­
Bow, what evil may not result when the landlords
of our estate will not live on these states at all?*
ing out a contrast similar to that mentioned by Beaumeta, he
Continued, "The cultivation of land by the abbeys is profit­
able, the farm rents are moderate, but within a year, when
become proprietors, the provinces will be ruined.* 47
But when Maury also depleted the advantages which ecclesiastical
possessions procured for the territories which surrounded
them, the Joprnal Je,
H I le
de.f ProVinces scored his
eloquent plea with the remark that Mhe proves his oratori­
cal talent hut not his political news.
Mediocre patrimonies
contribute more to the prosperity of the country than these
great masses possessed by the clergy.*4^
A fourth type of argument on economic grounds pre­
sented a doleful picture of the burden placed on the State
by the enforced dependency of the salaried priests.
eloquent Abbe Bymar pleaded, »Oentlemen, you will be touched
by the lot of 200,000 of your brothers whom you are going to
reduce to horrible conditions.*
These horrible conditions
seemed to be dependence and indigence, for In summarizing
his speech lyra&r said that »0y depriving the pastor of his
lands you condemn him to dependency... .some would be re­
duced t© indigence and others would Immediately be thrown
into embarrassment and misery.*
The extravagance of these
statements caused the president of the Assembly to interrupt
the Abbe.
The president commented that while there was no
doubt as to the sincerity of bis opinions, still the Assembly
had promised to provide the ministers with an adequate living,
and its sincerity could not be questioned either.4®
A fifth Indication of the economic folly of con­
fiscation stressed the increase in taxes that would result.
The Bishop of Clermont wanred that this would follow, adding
that *lf you take the goods of the clergy, you will only
substitute a perpetual charge for a momentary charge.* To
make the picture even more distressing he indicated that tee
people would try to avoid paying the taxes levied for the
State religion.
Like many another oratorical prelate,
the Bishop apparently enjoyed indulging in morbid erystal-
Th© forceful Abbe usury cited the example of
here after tee clergy had been despoiled under
Henry tin, it had been necessary to levy a tax of 58 millions
for tee maintenance of tee Church* and this was paid in hrge
part by the poor people*
The implication was teat a similar
tragedy would befall the French people, though he neglected
to state Just to teat extent tee poor were already support-*
lng tee established Church in a thousand email taxes called
by different names*
Like Beaumets he trie to convince the
Assembly that there was a direct relationship between tee
of Church-owned lands in a .community and its
*Compare tee provinces in which tee Church
possessed much property, and you will see which are the rich­
est! compare those in which the ecclesiastics have few pro­
perties, and you will see that tee ground is cultivated by
the languid arms of those who till tee soil without love.
But he had not satisfactorily demonstrated the cause-effect
sequence hero; he had not proved that provincial prosperity
of England was also cited by tee
Vieo&t© de igirabeauj
*ln England, after tee suppression of
the clergy, it was necessary to levy a tax*
One ye&r later,
praneis 1 said, *I5y toother Henry has killed the goose that
laid the golden eggs. •*
In conclusion he decided that the
plan of confiscation “has s e w r sueeeeded; Providence....
has always disapproved of it.#®2
He overlooked the fact that
it had never been given a serious trial,
for the opinion
of pro vide nee, probably ©very type ©f movement in the world
has at some time or other claimed that ®od disapproved of
the opponent*® point of view.
The inability of the ecclesiastical wealth to meet
the nationfs need® was stressed by the Vicomte Mirabeau.
“Every frenchman wishes to see the national debt paid off.
But who can pretend that this debt, the result of the ex­
penses of Louis XVI, of the depredations of the ministers
of Louis XV, etc., ean be paid off by the present reformation?*
But more than that, #The sale of the goods of the clergy
entails great inconvenience8; it will impoverish the pro­
vinces, weaken agriculture, enrich the capitalist.#®®
make the prospects even more depressing he added that in
the event of alienation, Mfrightful misery will take the
place of comfort; the monasteries consecrated to religion
will be replaced by ruins and debris; the astonished travel­
er will ask whether the Ooths and the Vandals have passed
through the country. *
Such a fate he claimed had befalled
the Austrian low-country where the suppression of the mona­
steries had been followed by desolation and indigence.
this the Paint du .jour replied scornfully, “One realizes
very well that these unnatural image® would apply better to
the destructive horrors of the feudal regime than to the in­
valuable advantages of liberty.
Who la ignorant of the fact
that the great masses of property are inequalities opposed
to the welfare of society, and that agriculture can only be
enriched by the widespread division of the properties.*84
Another pessimistic note was sounded by the Abbe
Maury in describing the economic effects of confiscations
After remarking that *the destruction of the Jesuits en­
riched no one,1* he waxed eten sore eloquent;
#fhe business
of regenerating everything will be only the miserable rou­
tine of ruining everything,
Xou groan, when reporting to
the provinces, at the ruins which surround you.
these disastrous ruins pile up around us?
Why then do
fhe vbvtls of
which we complained a year ago ere forgotten m i d the pre­
sent evils which afflict us; everything is in an uproar in
the realm, a King without power and a people without liberty....*
But here munsurs of disapproval, rising to hisses and shouts,
greeted the Abbe* s outburst, for such a generalization was
essentially a denunciation of the whole program of the
Revolutionaries. Maury abruptly descended from the tribunal,
and returned to finish his speech only after a placating
president ted silenced the offended Assembly.55
fhe increase in taxes would be only part of a
widespread debacle, gloomily prophesied the Archbishop of Aix.
#If these properties were put up for auction, as confiscated
by the State, would not their value be hurt?....Creditors of
the State would speculate, which would result in the
circulation of paper money, which would raise taxes, etc.*56
The venerable Archbishop might bare been more convincing had
be not assumed that Duquesaoy described as «a kind of pathetic
and mournful tome which is entirely out of style •*
on the
other tend, “there were several sentences which elicited
noisy applause*
Mlrabeau also applauded him, but tnrafe&g to
one side, he said to him, *0ne applauds the talent without
adopting the opinions *f
The i m m A M
m r M criticised the Archbishop's
defense of Church wealth with the comment that “in the Gospel
one cannot find anywhere the eulogy of wealth, while one
finds in twenty places toe eulogy of poverty.*1 fhis same
Journal remarked la relation to toe prelate*® suggestion®
regarding economy and change® in taxation, “All these truths
are Incontestable, but one doubt® that they are the best
truths for deciding this question.*®®
Other statements brushed aside all consideration of
economic gain in confiscation with sweeping generalisations
about its ineffectiveness.
Malouet honestly believed it
would be impossible for the expropiration to replace the
salt tax, repurchase the Judicial offices, pay up the debts,
and still have any money left*
In selling all toe Church
lands, toe lotion would deprive itself of their subsequent
Increase in value, while at toe same time the number of pubRQ
lie dependents would be increasing*
Closely related to the argument that confiscation
would not fee eeonomic&lly advantageous was the third major
premise that confiscation would be dangerous.
While the
preceding points had at times touched on the depressing ef­
fects on the condition of the Nation, this third line of
reasoning showed more specific eventualities which would en­
danger the future of the country.
There were offour types:
hack of resources for the future
Threat to private property rights
Beburn of agrarian law
general lose of religion
The Bishop of Uaes was one of those whoconsidered
Church property important as a reserve for future needs; the
difficulty was that uln calculating our spoils we have
counted the active and not the passive.1* The Church property
would fee of greater use as a passive reserve than when active­
ly partitioned.
**What resources would we have to fall back
on if dire misfortunes and wars brought about a pressing
Apparently he did not consider the present crisis
sufficiently serious to warrant extraordinary measures such
as he -recommended for **dlre misfortunes and wars.
The Vloomte Mlrabeau entertained a similar view.
ttW© cannot take the goods of the clergy for paying the debt
without depriving
ourselves of this previous resource for
the future....Bo you think that, to reach the desired goal,
we should fee too precipitate?
In trying to cure the sick
person quickly, one often kills him.11 To this the jSalaJ* j$&
made the following rejoinders
*One could have replied
to the Vicomte that when the provincial assemblies are well
organized, and that will happen he for® long, the State will
have no need, in the most disastrous wars, of any security
save the provinces themselves; has not experience taught us
that this is the most certain, the most abundant resource that
the State can have for the needs of war, as for all unexpected
fhe second danger resulting from confiscation
would be the threat to the rights of private property, ac­
cording to the Archbishop of AIx and the Abbe Maury.
The Arch­
bishop insisted that the seizures of Church lands would set
a precedent which would endanger the proprietorship of lay
But the Journal
Paris discredited his opinion
by saying, *$hen the clergy wishes to point anything out
there is always the suspicion that it has its own good in
Here the opinions of the Archbishop of Aix have a
tremendous fertility*
He has seen the dispossession of the
clergy a® the start of & universal dispossession..•.the In­
vasion finally extending to the ownership of land despite
the fact that the legislators are all proprietors.*
nevertheless the Abb# Maury also maintained that confisca­
tion was the first step in a program which would inevitably
moan the abolition ©f the system of private property.
ownership would be safe today, gentlemen, if the land which
we have cleared, which we have bought, or which has been
given to us, should be taken away from us?11 Such objections
refused to countenance a distinction between corporate and
private ownership.^
Beth the Bishop of Uzea and the Abbe Maury shook
their heads over the second dasher attending confiscations
the return of agrarian law, or the eighteenth-century con­
cept of the common ownership of ownership of property*
intimate union exists between property and liberty, # detoned
the Bishop-
*tf property is no longer sacred, the people oan
demand an agrarian law**..What force so grand an example
would give to that demand I
such a proposition.«
fhis is no place to deliberate
Somewhat more pompous was Maury1s
declaration that the principle invoked for the ecclesiastical
properties would lead the nation to agrarian law, that the
country would revert to the condition existing when it
emerged from the forests of Germany.
He asked bitterly,
MWhat would you say, gentlemen, of a lord of a ruined parish,
who turned over to his creditors the revenue of his cure?*
fhe Point
«Xourr which criticized Maury1s speech minutely,
point by point, now asserted that *the defender of the clergy
confused the nature of the property of apjjLttftftI ifa&AMM »lth
of jMkSMm&M.** ^
mixed the ij&sil
***** the JB&Ur
M & a 4 right: everyone knows that the agrarian laws are as
unjust a# they are contrary to social principles, because the
State is only established in order that each individual may
preserve his own goods*
The final danger described by the clergy was the
loss of religion.
*fo salary the priests, * quoth the deter­
mined Abbe lymay, ttw©ul& be to lose religion.*
this possibil­
ity mattered less to the Assembly than it did to him, as he
had had reason to suspect when MIrabeau on August 83 objected
to his proposal that Catholicism be recognised as tee offi­
cial State religion; Mirabeau, knowing Symar* a strong con­
victions regarding tee own religion, had also accused him of
partiality in editing tee Proces-Verbal.
$0 tee ardent Eymar,
an anti-Hevolu11ornry till tee death, tee progressive usur­
pation of Church privileges and prerogatives no doubt did
forecast the end of religion as he knew it.6®
the future of religion in |S*anee looked sombre to
the Archbishop of Alx also.
He saw religion destroyed,
churches, deserted, hospitals despoiled, gifts made to tee
community attacked Just as had the gifts made to tee clergy*
The JTournal r
impatiently dismissed his argument©
with tee dry comment teat #Aix did not use Impressive logic,
but rather submitted a great abundance and a great variety
of truths which, although they did not enter into tee ques&9
ticm, served to embellish tee outline.«
Maury predicted teat at the first sign of a war
tee people would stop paying their taxes; this would mean
the »ruin of tee pastors, * which would in turn, #include the
ruin of religion* *. *meli^Lon is tee safeguard of the empire.**6®
But puquesnoy belittled his extravagant claims;
Be has what
is commonly called eloquence, and which is only a sort of
display of words, a mixture of more or less picturesque
tm vmmwn
would be difficult
The fourte major argument against confiscation was
that the sale of the property would be difficult.
Fewer com­
ments were made in this connection* for apparently the clergy
were less confident of the strength of this objection,
types of difficulty were foreseen:
1. The securing of buyers
2* The length of time needed for conversion
la speaking of the clerical lands* Maury asked,
*Who would want to buy them?*
The Bishop of 0aǤs and the
Archbishop of Alx claimed that there would not fee enough buy­
ers for the lands* more than 6,000 estates In all.*70
It was Malouet who voiced the second type of diffi­
culty, pointing out the obstacles In the way of converting
the Church lands into wealth, and estimating that It would
take approximately thirty years to dispose of them on any
fair basis-^
The fifth major argument, that the people would not
approve, was not propounded very vigorously, and few direct
statements attempted to depict universal indignation on the
part of the people,
probably the prelates realised that
the proposition of confiscation was alarmingly popular, and
that any sweeping denial of this feeling would be ridiculed*
Of the five assertions claiming public disapproval, each
statement wa@
carefully qualified toe remark by Indicating
a specific grievance resulting from confiscation*
The Vicorate Mir&be&u asked the rhetorical question,
h Pg
you think that a system do destructive as that of the
Bishop of Autun will encounter no opposition?11 The sale of
the Chureh lands would place them in the hands of capitalists
and foreigners; this would ruin the provinces, and they
would he furious. ^ note that he did not contend that con­
fiscation as such would cause their fury, hut the economic
rain which he himself hypothecated*
the Archbishop of M x Implied public disapproval
on confiscation as & corollary of his assertion that the pro*
winces were in favor of ecclesiastical wealth*
ment Is rather bold, * commented, the Logogranhe*
"This state­
"If indivi­
dual interests had not at this moment stifled the voice of
the general Interest, there would not be a single protest
in favor of the clergy, *
The other three statements regarding the unfavorable
reactions of the public all earns from the Abbe Maury, who
was often accused of substituting eloquence for logic*
cause of public disapproval was as follows:
"You have****
no right to put financiers in the place of monasteries and
beneficed clergymen; the provinces will be angered at the
But he had no specific citations to make, no anec­
dotes to give as examples*
The Journal jg raris expressed
a great deal of disgust at this contention*
"If one had not
observed it, one would never believe to what a point even men
who have a powerful spirit can be mislead by words.
The ec­
clesiastical wealth would pass Into the hands of capitalists!
that difference would that make, if at the same instant and
by that very sal© the capitalists would become proprietors?
They would pass Into the hands of foreigners I
What would be
the difference If the foreigners by that very sale became
The provinces would be ruined I
$hat would it
mean but the mere fast that their lands, their fields of
wheat, and their vines would change hands?
provinces be furious?
Why would the
There is only one thing that matters
to the provinces, and that Is that the owners be honest men,
and wealthy men, to cultivate their properties.*7*
An even less convincing declaration Implied dis­
approval in this Indirect ways
^People speak favorably of
the abbeys; ah, they would praise them much more if the monks
were owners and possessors of their goods.*
was almost as Indirect:
The third point
*Hr. Becker, In a certain address,
proposed in 1780 a law which would permit the hospitals to
sell their lands, and to entrust to the King the produce,
which he would pay back annually, either In grain or money.
This plan was a little more favorable than that of IS. d*Autun;
but In spite of that, no hospitals sold their property, and
good citizens applauded their zeal *arw The Abbe obviously
assumed that this situation paralleled the ohanges involved
In confiscation, and that the latter would arouse even more
The fact that this assumption was not attacked
energetically by the opposition was probably due to the faot
teat he had already given them in his speech an ample num­
ber of debatable generalizations.
The sixth major argument against confiscation was
that previous eonflseat!on was no excuse for the proposed
alienation of property at the present time.
It annoyed the
clergy to he reminded that precedents had already been es­
tablished for the confiscation of their lands* since the
hinge of France had on several different occasions in the
past availed themselves of the Church* s wealth-
During the
relga of Francis I certain parte of the ecclesiastical wealth
were secularised and taken over for the profit of the State.
Only half a century earlier a royal edict had forbidden the
clergy*s acquiring additional domains.
In 1764 when the
Jesuit order was suppressed the lands which it possessed
were sold and the money turned over to toe public treasury.7**
The Abbe Maury gave his own acrid interpretation of
these past events:
*ln toe Homan Empire some cowardly pub­
licists wished to prove that toe emperor was toe sole owner.
Under Francis I, they attempted to usurp the goods of toe
clergy and toe nobility.
This principle only appeared*
thereafter* under toe Marquis de paulmy.
They took council
c m toe question; Louis If rejected it* crying that it was
a maxim worthy of mehlavelll. It appeared in 1771, and
Louis Xf exiled toe Marquis de Segur.
Finally It took shel­
ter la the encyclopedia; it was from there that Mr. Thouret
retrieved It, decorating it with certain metaphysical ideas.**
He made toe bantering remark that be would rather refute a
paragraph from toe encyclopedia than match himself against
IS. lhouret*s talents.
A large part of the Abbe* s speech was
thus devoted to the refutation of Thouret* s assertions.
prominent among which had been ©aay barbed shafts concerning
earlier alienations of Church property,
The Point fox Jour
reported of the Abbe1s speech included more of that prelate*s
oratorical style than did the Logographe quotation Just cited.
For example* the first part of the section quoted was worded
*Some cowardly publicists dared to teach in Home that
principle which would glee the King the domain of all the
wealth* hut the Homan people distinguished sovereignty from
ownership; and this great idea preserved Europe from a great
invasion for fifteen centuries.#7^
Os the other hand Montesquieu
indulged in some
logical calisthenics to prove that since previous aliena­
tion had been done with the consent of the clergy, it had
therefore been done Jgr the clergy.
the report of the Point
£& Jour said that *He had sought to establish in a very long
discourse that the clergy has had the original title and
the possession of the lands for ten centuries* during which
it has alienated* pledged* exchanged* and handled the pro­
perty In a thousand ways.
He recalled the two periods in
our history when the admiral of Goligni and the chancellor
Birague proposed the alienation of the wealth of the olergy;
but the times have changed as much as the circumstances; and
the true principles of political societies are better known.*
probably Montesquieu considered one of these #true principles11
to be the inviolability of clerical domains.
The commentator
then confessed that he had been unable to follow all the de­
tails of the rebuttal given by the Abb# to those arguments
seeking to establish the ri#rt of the Ration to own the Church
W —
aoBanTBiE h e a s u b e s k e r b p o s s i b l e
The seventh and final major argument against con-
fiseat! on wag that substitute measures were possible which
rendered the alienation of Church lands umecess&ry.
argument indicated six alternatives, though there was little
general agreement among the clergy as to which was preferable:
Be form of abuses §h Church practices
Improved adminstratlon within the Church
Suppression of useless orders
Voluntary aid given to State by Church
general suggestions
■One of the first members of the olergy to admit
openly that reform was needed within the Church was the
thoughtful and sincere Malonet.
He maintained that while
the State could not destroy religion or infringe upon the
endowments of church organizations. It had the duty of supers
vising the use of such endowments and reforming whatever
abuses might arise.
Bit unlike several of his clerical
brothers, he did not stop short with the general statement
that refers m s a good Idea.
E i specific proposals will be
discussed in connection with 'some of the subsequent measure s.79
%ei us reform abuses,* likewise urged pellerln.
"This task is worthy of the representsti vee of the Hatlon. *
The exhortation continued in equally general terms*
us restore the olergy of the first order to the spirit of the
early Church. *
possibly he and many ©f his colleagues
thought that this generous admission of some failings would
41vert the Assembly fro® their dogged pursuit of toe confis­
cation issue,
the other priests chimed in with similar re­
marks that it was toe duty of toe State to #suppress all ahuse$
to destroy that which is harmful and to save that which is
useful,* hinting that there probably was something harmful
to destroy*
But neither wished to he too specific, feeling
they had good far enough with this magnanimous admission.81
toe Abbe M&ury was also willing to a ami si that »toe s&t&w*
item must be remedied,* but he did met wish remedial efforts
to go too far, fearing too sweeping a reform of Church
*fe remedy am abuse in a body it is mot neces­
sary to suffocate ib.*8S
fhe second alternative was actually a more specific
statement of toe first, indicating a few definite changes
that could be made*
toe Bishop of Himes suggested the im­
provement of to# administration of Church wealth in provid­
ing for toe expenses of religion and for toe support of to#
He proposed toe establishment of a sort of treasury
for religion, entrusted t© toe archpriest or dean for all
toe cures of to# deanery, who, under toe direction of to#
diocesan synods, would regulate toe use of toes# funds of
this treasury for toe expenses of religion and toe maintenance
of to# poor.8^
A priest from Quesnoi also felt that there could
be a better admimi straiten of funds within toe Church.
us make a more equitable division, since some have all and
others have nothing... .Let us enrich toe charity workhouses,
but let us be careful lest In pruning the branches too much,
we cause the trunk to die**®^
Another note of caution from
a cleric who feared that the enthusiastic Assembly, once
encouraged to wake such changes, might go too far*
A similar readjustment was recognized as necessary
by the Abbe Symar; he admitted that tbs salaries of the pariah
priests should be increased— n© one, he claimed, disputed
this fast— but the Church was already taking steps to adjust
this Inequality*
Ho evidence was offered, however, to show
what these steps were or what effect they were having.
The third measure, the suppression of useless
orders, apparently touched upon a much heeded reform for prac­
tically all the clerics admitted that many religious organi­
zations had largely ceased to function according to their
original purposes.
*l*t us suppress the abbeys,* advised
pellerln, thou^ai he Save no details regarding the execution
of this suggestion.
Among the summarizing statements with which the
Archbishop of Alx concluded his discourse in the Assembly
were theses
that simple benefices should be supplanted and
others reduced according to the population of the cantons,
and that the number of religious houses and communities should
be diminished.
And though he added that the clergy was
ready to make sacrifices, the Journal Jg, feaaflja commented
that #Aix avoided saying anything definite concerning the
extent of the sacrifices to be made by the clergy; he said
they could be determined when the needs were better under­
stood. *
Siren hie suggestion regarding the suppression of
orders was qualified by cautions; he admonished the Assembly
against any widespread disregard of individual endowments,
for fro® such would evolve a dangerous system which might
even go so far as t© attach hospitals.
#Vhy confuse neees-
sity with inutility?# retorted the & m s m m Bht*
are neoeasary to relieve the ills of suffering humanity;
but the abbeys... .of what use are they?
fhey fatten, on
the patrimony of the poor, certain individuals who often
display in a gilded carriage their ignorance or their de­
bauchery, but never the proper spirit of their estate, that
Is, humility and poverty.#^
fh© priest from Queen©!, whom we earlier quoted as
saying that reforms should be made in the Church, added
that the number of abbeys and chapels should be reduced,
though'they should be careful lest they hill the tree of
religion by pruning it too extensively.^
MClouet doubted that the great mass of the French
people would approve of the wholesale, indiscriminate des­
truction of monasteries.
At the same time he agreed that
the suppression of useless orders was necessary, but thought
it probable that each city and each province would wish to
retain ©no or two houses as a retreat for one or the other
Also It should be possible for each diocese to save at
least one se^taary, one chapel, and one house of rest for
the priests and the vicars who were too old to continue their
His suggestions, which were the most specific
of those offered by the clergy, were as follows*
A church committee will be formed to determine the
number of bishops, priests, chapels, seminaries,
and monasteries which must be saved, and to regu­
late the quantity of wealth, houses, and incomes
which must be assigned to each one of these es­
All that which, will not be considered useful to
tee divine service and the instruction of the people,
will be suppressed, and tee rent and furnishings of
these establishments will be placed under tee ad­
ministration of tee provinces in which they are
telle awaiting tee effects of tee preceding pro­
visions, and concurrently with them, tee nomina­
tion of all Abbes, canonical candidates, and simple
benefices will be suspended until it has definitely
been determined Just which institutions will be
All religious orders of both sexes are prohibited
from receiving no vices until each province shall
make known tee number ©f monasteries that it de­
sires to preserve.
the established number of each monastery or one of
tee other sex shall be fixed at twelve monk© or
mine, and there shall be
a reunion of all the
house© by tee present article; the houses made va­
cant by the reunion shall be placed under the ad­
ministration of the provinces.
All tee buildings and tee land, other than those of
habitation, not Included In the rural lands of the
churches, may be sold by the provincial administra­
tions and there will be an account of their produce
at a rate of fly# per cent for these establishments
which were preserved; the price of the furnishings
that are sold will be placed in the national treasury*
Ho other vacant territory by effect of these dis­
positions will be put up for sale until there has
been provided in each province sufficient endow­
ment of all the church establishments and for the
foundation in each city and town of a charity trea­
sury ^for the relief of tee poor.
As Boon as tee above previsions have been carried
out, tee tithes which tee different holders of
benefices enjoy will cease to be paid, and will
continue to the new order, to be received by tee
provincial and municipal administrations in deduc­
tion of tee charges imposed upon tee less wealthy
A fourth type of measure involved the voluntary
giving of aid by tee Church to tee State; usually it was also
suggested that this aid was to come from tee surplus wealth
left after ^feovieion had been made for tee expenses of ser­
vices and charity.
*leb us demand from tee clergy an account
of its goods; if there is a superfluity, let it be used to
help tee Empire.*
pe H e r t s 1s next remark, 11tot for tee honor
of tee ©entury, lot us not attack the property,# showed
clearly that hie was merely an appeasement policy.
The Archbl shop of Alx also approved the idea of
assisting the statej the clergy should make contributions to
the national tax adsini sbrailon, while commissioners would he
named to report more exactly a® to the wealth of the clergy,
the donations they could stand# and the aid they could give*
At the same time he complained because the State did not see®
willing to accept a Church gift in lieu of confiscation*
some rich citizens should give the State ISO million (livres)
to pay off some public debts, their offering would he ac­
cepted with recognition.
Our fathers have exempted us from
Just as considerable a tax* and yet when we divulge their
n&stes, we criticise them for their benefactions and we abolish
their pious liberalities * « ^
lymar declared that the Ohurch was ready to make
sacrifices, and instead of tee previously offered one-fourth
of its revenues, was willing to offer teree-fourths provided
teat tee property remained under clerical c o n t r o l T h i s
marked Increase in tee offer of tee Church obviously indi­
cated that tee clergy felt teat desperate measures were needed
to succor their cause.
The Abbe1® Vigorous stand surprised
the editor of afoaBflBUaftft M
* H » m is
certainly an example of a violent attachment to worldly
wealth I
Apparently tee apostles did not have much common
send©, and if they were to return today, the Abb# and his
associates would soon prove to teem teat they were fools.1,93
Close upon the heels of these discussions of volun­
tary aid came a similar suggestion which argued, however,
that the nation had a right to the excess wealth of the
clergy, and could demand it without waiting for the Church
t© offer it voluntarily *
Malouet was the only prelate who
dared give full voice to this disturbing notion.
Tb& State
could probably take over 400,000,000 livres of the Church
property without seriously impairing the functions of the
Churchi furthermore, it was Justified in doing so because of
the exemption of the Church properties from the payment of
taxes, which he believed was unjust.
1!hus from one-fifth to
one-duartan of the Church property could be alienated,
though Malouet deemed it only fair that *th© replacement of
this alienation must be made for the profit of. the poor in
happier times! for according to all the principles of moral
and positive right, the Church lands are dispensable only for
the public religion or for the poor.*
In the list of specific
proposals that he submitted at the end of hie address,
galouet concluded that the lands of the clergy were to be
regulated according to its specific purposes, which were the
service of the altars, the upkeep of the ministers, and the
relief of the poor*
fhese objectives fulfilled, the excess
would be devoted to the needs of the State and of the most
needy class of citizens,
fo ascertain this excess a Church
committee would be formed, whose additional functions re­
garding the suppression of orders have already been discussed.
Then an annual sum of 26,000,000 liwres would be levied on
the tithes* and the lands of the clergy given to the pro­
vincial administrations to pay toe interest on toe former
debt of the clergy* and on a new credit of 400*000*000 livres
which would he guaranteed by all toe Church wealth.^
Conciliatory and thoughtful though these sugges­
tions were* toe Assembly was by this time in no mood to ac­
cept compromise proposals $ any solution which gave toe Church
a lien on its holdings was now considered unsatisfactory*
As mentioned before* Malouet was toe only one who
had?'any very definite suggestion# to offer as alternatives
to confiscation*.
A few more general consideration# were pre­
sented by equally ardent but less resourceful partisans of
the clerical cuase*
The Archbishop of Aim preached economy*
retrenchment in all expenses* besides a more even distribu­
tion of taxation achieved through changes or reduction# in
1 9b
various taxes*
Vo an Assembly which had already learned
that halfway measures offered no solution* toe Archbishop *s
suggestions must have been very exasperating*
They fcnew toe
futility of re shuffling toe taxes by eliminating some* in­
creasing others* and imposing new ones* ©specially since it
was not even possible to collect those taxes which toe people
had been accustomed to paying for many generations.
more, it was Impossible to pay off a century*s accumulation
of debts plus interest by economic® in government
permitted its functioning*
that still
Economy would not have been a
sufficient answer even had toe original scope of the old
been retained* but In view of toe great expansion
of tli® services being urged by tee He volutlonariea, it was
a really ludicrous proposal.
Another general comment ®am® from B1Angevi 111 er s,
who optimistically claimed that there were many other mean®
which would provide for public finances, and that it was the
duty of the Assembly to examine all of them be for® dispose
seeslng the clergy*
The Assembly impatiently tossed aside
what they believed to be primarily an attempt to delay the
presentation of tee confiscation motion.®®
Another attempt at proorastinntion of the issue was
that of the Abbe Maury, who assured tee Assembly that 14There
are wiser plans by white you will draw more resources from
the clergy than under the present system.*
But he neglected
to describe any such wiser plans, weerimg off to an evasive
diatribe against credit.
**!hey speak to you of credit; but
this credit is the most terrible plague teat has fallen on
tee heads of nations; it is because they have had credit
that tee people have devoured in advance tee revenue of the
nation; it is because they have had credit that princes and
administrators of state have dispatched armies, often with­
out any motive but to satisfy their own ambition... .Credit
is so fatal teat it must be wiped out at once.11 He urged
that it was a mistake to attempt to revive this credit teen
the only possible result it could have would be to place the
capitalists in tea position of the Church as the owners of
the properties.
The real cause of the evils now plaguing
the nation was tee unsound systems of collecting tames, which
bad resulted la toe fraudulent fortunes of stock jobbers.
Remedy this ill,
and all talk about credit would subside.^
If the Archbishop’s suggestions had exasperated
the Assembly, how much more annoying must the Abbe usury’s
suggestions haws seemed!
It was doubtless true that toe
method of farming out taxes which had been used so much bytoe recent Bourbon kings was very Inefficient.
as Dupont de ^amours had shown by his cleverly presented
figures In his speech of September 27, greater efficiency
In tax collection without a fair distribution of wealth would
avail nothing,
During these debates, a number of attempts were
mad# by the clergy to delay toe final decision of the ques­
tion of confiscation,
The Abbe Rastignae requested, as had
Camus, that toe discussion be postponed.
flFbr three weeks I
have been examining toe Church titles,rt he asserted; «2 have
considered toe different objections pro and con; I have gone
Into toe political observations applicable to this business;
and If toe Assembly will permit me, I shall have the report
printed and will bring it back next Tuesday with a copy for
each deputy.
1 ask that this business be set aside until
that time.**
This examination, assuming that It was made,
was not an official assignment from toe Assembly, since he
was not a member of toe ecclesiastical committee.^
It is
probable tost toe report was not printed, since there was no
reference to it in either toe ensuing debates or later news­
paper accounts.
The Assembly undoubtedly regarded this
proposal as a delaying tactic, for they Ignored It.
Another attempt to secure a delay* which the As­
sembly ignored, was made by Bureau de Pusy, who proposed that
before confiscation an exact account of the wealth of the
Ctoireh and Its necessary expenses be obtained so as to deter­
mine whether or not It would be worthwhile*9®
the please for delay proved to be just as unavailing
as the other arguments which had attempted to save the Church
[, T. 3, PM octobre, pp. 430-432*
Le Monlteur Universe!. No. TV, 22-26 octobre, p. 314.
Courier a« Rcovenge,. T. 3, No. 57, 23-34 ootobre, p. 0.
^ p. 13*
be Monlteur Braver ael. 22-26 octobre, pp. 314-316.
be Point M Saae. t. 3, 25 octobre, pp. 4.35-440.
T. 5, 24 QGtobre, pp. 186-194.
, 31 oeiobr©, p. 331*
, f. 4, 1 nowjubre, pp. 13-18.
31 oetobpe, p. 330.
I1* 5, 13 octobre, pp. 4-22.
T- 2, 15 octobre, p.
, Mo. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299-301.
14-22 octobre, pp.
S s m m 2 g&JBH&A*
2, 15 ootoimv p. 1322.
2k M U M M& Mm, SBMMBRMfa 15 octobre, p. 59.
, 7.
6,13 octobre, pp. 4-82-
5,13 ©6to|j?0# p. 13
£&&& ii 'MC,
T* 3, IT octobre, pp. 347-333.
®- 3, X? octobre, 347-363.
Mo. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299-301.
7* 3, Mo. 60, 30 octobre-2 novembre,
. 1-24
7* 3, 17 eetobre, pp. 347-363.
t, 7- 3, Ho. 60, 30 octobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-24
, 7. 4, 1 nobeabre, pp. 13-18.
£ ids.
29 octobre-7 novembre,
pp. 160—167<
f. 5, 13 octobre, p. 23.
L fObservateur, T. 1, Ho. 28, 13 octobre, p. 216.
21 .
S# p. 1323.
'* T. 3, 16 oetobre, p
Bevja3.nt,J.0Jta ^'2g£2S4AlaS s3k ParJ-3. 14-32 oetobre, p. 98.
ISA* 19-13 octobre, pp. 399-301.
JBgJBtotea 3S4 Religious Reform. p. 93.
If) Point da Jour. T. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
2 2 . Ibid., 31 octobre, p. §,
e&. 31 octobre, p. 123 <
he Moniteur Universe!. 30
, p • 322.
te Logdgyat>he, f. 5, 30 ootobre, pp\ 261-284
jlaiEsaL.^ J& TAAAr ©t i
pp. 1-24*
par^fiu 3® o@tobre, p. 1399
g%pjpp$j£f I1. 3, m . 60, 30 octobre-2 novembre,
24 .
• 7. 2, p
* 2 novembre, p. 332
,, 2 novembre, p. 1423.
.lonrnal M B ______ 2 novembre•
M JUAflfc M & m & * *- 4*
novembre, pp. 25-32
HXle £&
, 7* 3, 3 novembre, pp. 321-324.
U 7. 3, Bo. 60, 30 oetobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-24.
26 .
ffr&v^noea. 3 novembre, p. 133.
b, 2 novembre, p. 332.
1P 3 W 1 # 7. 3, He. 67, 23-24 octobre,
to>. 3-1Q. " M?Ktl^ilc»« de tfefta.lll.8 et Paris. T. 3,
19-29 octobre, pp. 130-132. he Moniteur tlnlversel.
Ho. 77, 22-26 octobre, pp. 514-316. he Point du «Iourf
f. 3, 24 octobre, pp. 426-432.
tTp3„vergel. Ho. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299-
7. 5, 28 octobre, pp. 430-432.
Bo. 77, 28-2*6 octobre, p. 314.
Ho. 57, 23-24 octobre, p. 8.
rn point da
Le Memlteur
, 7. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
% Ho. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299., 31 octobre, p. 331.
T. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
,» Ho - 53f IS—13 ootobre t pp. 7—19 •
Courier j&
W , . t e gaiY^gp.p.1., Ho. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 209-
p . 39.
S U M M& M m M £ M S M g m *
15 octobre,
gyraefrftfe #9 teoreiie&. T* 3, Ho* 60, 30 octobre-2 noveabre,
pp. 1-84.
dq^rpal && Paris., T.
%P M & M £sm&*
EslSl SB
U 14-22 octobre, p. 93.
7^5-13 ^5t5bJe, pp. 299-30l!
^ f. 5, 31 octobre, pp. 261-284.
U 30 octobre, p. 1399*
4, 1 noTembre, pp. 13-18.
Ho* 53, 12-1*3 octobre, pp.7-19.
,, Ho* 73, 12-13 octobre, pp* 299X U I a s&. M m S m s M s m , is octobre,
p. 59
7. 3, 29 octobre, pp. 430-432.
llnijrergel,. Ho. 77, 22-26 ootobre, p. 514.
^ro7ence. Ho. 57, 23-24 ootobre, p. 8
31 ootobre, p. 331.
M l i M J U k S k M m S W & M M M * 1 novembre, pp.
p. 59.
2,15 octobre, p. 1323.
?* ** octobre, p. 327.
, Ho. S3, 12-13 octobre, pp. 7-19.
Ho. 73, 13-13 octobre, pp 299la M 2 M M& M M E & J M M M t IS octobre,
&u Jour. 7. 3, 35 octobre, pp. 430-453,
Moulteur Universe!. Ho. 77, 23—26 ootobre, p. 314.
3& bogogracher 7. 5, 31 octobre, pp. 261-284.
3ournal de Parig. 30 ootobre, p. 1399.
M. j<wag. *• 4, 31 octobre, pp. 4-8.
7. 3, Bo. 60, 30 octobre-2 novembre,
43 .
pp. 1—34.
7. 5, 3 noveFibre, pp. 310-324.
w 2 novembre, p. 332.
T»Qg^Qgrar>he. 7. 5,
de W r l s . 30
Paint ftu
qourier do jfra^no^
pp. 1-24.
51 ootobre, pp. 261-284.
octobre, p. 1399.
4, 31 ootobre, pp. 4-8.
No. 60, 30 octobre-2 novembre,
i, 1 novesbre, pp.
Logoeraohe. T. 5, 13 ootobre, pp.
3, Ho. 5?, 23-24 oetobre,
pp. 5-.16e jto Ms&ltottr milverael. Ho. 77, 22-26 octobre,
, T- 8,
oetobre, pp.
1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
15 oetobre, p. 1319.
3, Ho. 58, 26-2? oetobre,
pp. 17-31
M M i .
Bo. 73, 12-13 oetobre, pp. 29913 oetobre, p. 436.
i, ?« 5, 31 oetobre, pp.
' , p. 1399.
7. 4, 51 oetobre, pp. 4—8.
7. 5, 31 ootobre, pp. 261s, 30 oetobre, p
to Point An Jour, f. 4, 31 ootobre, pp. 4-8.
JBStoS i B iSSS# 7. 4, 31 ootobre, pp. 4-8.
7* 5, 31 ootobre, pp. 261Au
T. 3, 15 oetobre, p. 527.
E&rJU, 14-22 ootobre, p. 95.
12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-391.
31 October, p. 330
f- b, pp. 386-305
oetobre, p* 1105.
, 7. 2, 30 oetobre, p. 7.
31 oetobre, p. 1403.
7 • 22, p * 1070•
, f. 2, p. 1383.
, 7. 3, 15 oetobre, p. 327.
, 12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-301.
M t m W m £k 28SU* 1 5 - « oetobre,
i& E2iJ& m
, f. 3, 25 oetobre, pp. 430-432.
, *w. 77, 22-26 octobre, p. 314.
Provence. Ho. 57, 23-24 octobre, p. 8.
, T. 4, 31 octobre, pp. 4-8.
, f. 5, 31 octobre, pp. 261-284.
, 31 oetobre, p. 1599.
Journal de
01 ootobre, p. 1403.
, 01 oetobre, p. 350
* PP*
> T* b, 13
oetobre, pp. 4-22•
Journal Ae Parle. ?. a, p. 1 ,33 .
* * sjQME, f . 3, 15 ootobre, p
14-g2 ootobre, p. 05.
12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-301
04 •
T. 3, 25 ootobre, pp. 430-432.
Ho. ff, 22—26 oetobre, p. 314.
5*7, 23-24 ootobre, p. S.
Sg, T* 3, 15 octobre, p. 52*?.
, f. 5, 13 oetobre, pp. 4-22.
i f* 2, p.
14-22 oetobre, p. 95.
, jurfs-13 ootobre^ pp.
Ho. 15, 26-31 ootobre,
pp. 94-97.
f. 16, p. 1007.
JS& mx&M* 14-22 ootobre,
31 ootobre, p. 1405.
• 75, 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299a.
T. 2, 30 ootobre, p. 7.
pp. 3-16.
, 7. 5, 31 ootobre, pp. 261-284.
&Tancer T. 3, Ho. 57, 23-24 ootobre,
31 ootobre, p. 330.
# 7* 2, p.
f. 3, 15 ootobre, p.
, 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-301,
M J t e m m s b S ^ *• &* 31 ootobre, pp. 261-284
£&£i&* 30 ootobre, p. 1599.
f. '5, 31 ootobre, pp. 286—305.
Journal de
, 30 ootobre, p. 1399.
Le W o g r a p h e . f . 6, 31 octobre, pp. 861-884.
1 & Joint du Jour. T. 3, 17 octobre, pp. 347-363.
p. S.
qi»ww & la Revolution.
L& Eaint du Jour. T. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
Le Logogranha. T. 5, 31 ootobre, pp. 861-284.
Le Maaifcaanc a H i M M l . 31 oetobre, p. 331.
is £ & £ & M i M L , * * 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
da sa&&, *• s* p . 1333 .
dfe KadBfi ^
7* ®i 1 ® octobre, p. 3 3 7 .
M Monlieag Hniverael. 12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-301.
i& Monltear qnleersel. 22-23 oetobre, pp. 314-316.
SaMEtoC d& Provence. So. 07, 23-24 oetobre, p. 13.
M laa3J&B£ .aal^jpftel. 22-26 oetobre, pp. 314-316.
L.e Point da Jour, 7- 4, 3-S noTeabre, pp. 33-32.
16. iaiS86iStia&
5, 0* oetobre, pp. 261-284.
la. EfiAql M 2m £> *•4, 1 noveabre, pp. 13-18.
la Point da 3opr.
Ssm, t- 4, 3-8 BOTBfflbre. pp. 26-32.
7. 4, 1 jaovembre, pp. 13-16.
da gSattft,
7- a, 16 oetobre, p. 1319.
f. 3, 17 ootobre, p. 347.
12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-
Balvereel, Ho. 7, 22-26 octobre, pp. 314ar M Provence- So. 87, 23-24 oetobre,
P- 13- 16,1688835^8, T. ®, 24 ootobre, pp. 18sll94.
IgUyaftl d£ Parle. 31 ootobre, p. 1403.
l£ Logogranhe. 7. 8, 31 oetobre, pp. 286-306.
la MfrftftftfflliP tMiTerael- 2 novembre, p. 332.
1m Monltear Oalrereel. 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-301.
pp. 3-16.
Provanoe. 7 . 3, Ho. 57, 23.24 ootobre,
Paris. 31 oetobre, p. 1403.
7 .4,
1 novembre,pp. 13-18.
8, 31
oetobre, pp. 286-300.
«casm»l daJ & SLlla S i g m fjm & m s s , 1 novembre,
pp. 127-128.
i& Point Jn Jour.
M ^ggQgranbe- T.
Journal de Parle, f. 2,
It oetobre,p. 1319.
be Point da Jour. 7 .3,
17 ootobre,p. 347.
La Monltear Pnlversel. 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-301.
da Verealllea
£gj^£, 14-22 ootobre,
pp. §4~§T.
2a,ww-X da f&a&a* 7. 2, p. 1323.
f d a .Toar. 7. 3, IS ootobre, p. 327.
‘■TglflUffflS da Versailles Jit p&rM, 14-22 ootobre, p
Le Monltear Unlversel. 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-301.
Le Konlteug itolTereal- 31 ootobre, p. 330.
Le Ipgngra.whe. f. 5, 51 ootobre, pp. 988-305.
Journal de Sorta. 51 oetobre, p. 1403.
LeLogograohe. f. 5, 13 ootobre, pp. 4-22.
1*Point du Joar. T. 3, 1? ootobre, pp. 347-363.
V*. ffoBltenr Onlvereel. No. 73, 12-13 ootobre, pp. 2993Gl...
Lg. Koalteur Bnlvergel. Ho. 73, 18-13 oetobre, pp. 299301.
LePoint da Jour, f. 3, 26 ootobre, pp. 626-432.
La Koaltear Halvereel. No. 77, 22-26 ootobre, p. 314.
m & T m i?
Bwrnrnimtton of tm mm?
as the
of owherssxf
of the batxon
As toe arguments of toe clergy were unfolded one
by one, a determined opposition made rebuttals composed more
of cold, calculating logic than of toe ©motional hyperboles
resorted to by most of too churchmen.
Hot that toe proponents
of confiscation were unemotional* rather toe Quality of toe
©motion differed, for theirs was a fierce determination
armed with toe realisation that public sentiment was with
Ho desperate feeling of futility, of defensive exas­
peration, confused toe issue for them*
At toe m m
time it fast be remembered that among
toe supporters of toe confiscation measure were several mem­
bers of to© clergy too had to© courage to oppose those of
their own order in defense of a principle they believed to
fee right.
And among the lay speakers were several who felt
no vindictive Joy in ©tripping toe Church, but who cautioned
to© Assembly to make fair provision© for a body bereft of
an independent Income.
In to© background loomed an increas­
ingly belligerent public opinion, given voice through toe
comments of the press, which were almost unanimously favor­
able toward toe speeches of toe opposition and critical on
those given fey to© clergy.
In comparing toe arguments used fey toe two hostile
groups, w© find that la this group of opposition speeches
toe first principle, regarding toe justice of the confiscation
measure, was emphasized much more than in the clerical ad­
The latter stressed, as the reader may recall, the
following points?
1. Confiscation would he unjust
2 . Confiscation would not be economically ad­
3. Confiscation would be dangerous
4. Sal# ©f the lands would be difficult
5. the people would not approve
5. previous confiscation was no argument
7* Substitute measures were possible.*
Of these only one, that dealing with the difficulty of selling
the lands, was ignored by the opponents of the clergy, for
apparently they envisaged no difficulty in disposing of the
Their oounter-proposilions would read as follows?
1. Confiscation would be Just
2* Confiscation would be economically advantageous
3* 0hureh ownership was harmful
4 •
1»■ **■**■urn
$* The people would approve
6 . previous confiscation furnished a precedent
7. Ho satisfactory substitutes were possible*
*ghe first proposition, that confiscation would be
Just, was discussed at great length.
The lines of reason­
ing were focused on objective analyses of legal rights and
concepts of ownership;
1 . The Church ag a corporate body did not have the
sime rights as an individual.
2 . In terms of definitions of ownership, the Church
was a usufructuary or an administrator rather
than an owner or proprietor.
3. The function of receiving gifts or foundations
did not make the Church an owner.
4*. The nation itself could fulfill the conditions
of the donors or founders*
3. The basis of Judgment should always be the
general welfare*
fw© points were mad© with reference to the rights
©f the Church as a corporate body;
that since the Ghureh
as an order no longer existed, its property reverted to the
State, the Church had been created by the State.
fhe first
speaker to emphasise the fact that the Church no longer
existed as an order, was M. (Shapelier* who had been presi­
dent when the destruction of the orders began, and who was
to face the guillotine five years later; he saw now wthe
sundering of the last root of the formidable tree of the
He professed to b© surprised to hear the clergy
using such expressions as &u£ fiBSSSL ***&
sasaiU^fta; it
was important to him to destroy the Ideas of orders and of
separate interests that were constantly being re-created.
*X©u wished to abolish the orders; well, if the
clergy is declared the owner, the orders are not destroyed;
they preserve an existence separate from that of the nation;
Hen arsr in fact agreeing that it can and ought to exist with­
in the State as a body Independent of the State; you pass
Judgment that the nation, although overburdened by an in­
stitution, can neither destroy it nor modify it; you pass
Judgment that there is a fore© superior to that of the nation,
and that men established by tee nation to instruct and edify
it are separate and Independent from it, that it is Impossible
for the nation to touch them, to reform them, to moderate
the riches teat they possess as salaries; you pass Judgment
teat tee clergy can form assemblies, and you can calculate
how such a dlsox^ani zation of tee social body would menace
you; if you consider thorn to he owners, those assemblies
become more lndl spensable than ewer according to our decree
ob the tithes . then the clergy becomes more than ever a
body, an order, separate from you, which Isolates Itself
to seise the moment to combat you to Its own advantage and
to resume its fatal political existence; thus, with the
thousand means that It ha® for influencing the spirit of toe
people, it will be able to strike at toe liberty which hurts
it, at your constitution which m
longer gives it a separate
place, at your good fortune which is a contradiction to its
own excessive riche®,
toy hesitate then to declare a prin­
ciple which Is necessary to consummate, to make certain a
work which had cost us so much effort? ^
In similar vein Qftpcmt du Hemours argued that
since toe Church a® an order bad been destroyed, their right
to own property had been destroyed.
8The nation had declared
that it no longer wished toe orders In toe State.
The or­
der no longer exi sting, to whom would its funds belong?
They are an indivisible property of society*11 To give weight
to his statement he remarked that fee was well qualified to
examine toe question under discussion, for he had devoted
himself for twenty-five years, under the greatest teachers,
to toe study of ownership - This was no mere boasting, for
he had achieved great renown as an economist, and had
helped to precipitate this argument on Church property by
his brilliant speech of September 24.S
The powerful Count Mirabeau also contended that
the clergy could not own lands when it had been abolished aw
an order.
“Be careful, gentlemen, for if you do not ads&b
the principle (of state ownership) all your decrees on the
wealth of the clergy, on proportional contribution, and on
the abolition of privilege will be nothing but ineffective
laws.11 Again he Insisted that #if the clergy cannot be an
order in the state.•• .the Nation has thus kept its owner­
The 'second point regarding the relation of indivi­
dual and Church rights centered discussion on the fact that
individuals had basic, inviolable rights which the State had
been formed to protect, While the Church was a subsequent
creation of the State and as such could be controlled, modi­
fied, or even destroyed by the State.
The clergy had pro­
tested that the faculty and right to make endowments or
foundations, to build a church, to establish a monastery,
were rights ©listing prior to the law.
To this Chapeller
replied that individuals had neither the right nor the
faculty to create political bodies not to give them civil
powers, for that was the exclusive right of the Nation*
*Individual ownership is a sacred right of man, existing
before the law| the law is an emanation of the will of the
greatest number of individuals, established for the guarantee
of their ownerships; but eorpor&t© bodies have no right at
all; they exist only through the law; they were created only
for the general good; and when the law sees that they no
longer operate to its profit, it can withdraw from then the
donations that it gave them for such purposes,
naturally the newspapers, with their Hewolutionary
sentiments, approved such reasoning,
«m > Shapelier has dis­
cussed the great principle of the ownership of ecclesi&stieal
wealth with a new force and a new eloquence,» commented the
had Successfully undertaken* to present some facts relative
to the project of alienation.s
Squally forceful was 3houreb*g support of the view
that Individuals and corporate bodies like Church had dif­
ferent rights.
*Xt is held that people delight in confusing
rights and ownerships.
Individuals and bodies differ in
their rights in this respect.
Since individuals existed be­
fore tee law, they have rights which they derive from Nature,
inalienable rights, such as the right of ownership. All
bodies on the contrary exist only through tee law, and their
rights depend on the law; it can modify them, destroy them,
and tee constituent power has the right to determine up to
what point it can allow them tee enjoyment of these rights,
the law can pronounce that no body may be an owner. Just as
it has pronounced teat they may be am owner; teat is why the
destruction of a body is mot a homicide; thus the act by
which tee National Assembly will destroy tee pretended right
of ownerteip teat tee clergy claims is not a spoliation; it
is simply necessary, teen, to decree that tee body will no
longer be able to possess.*
In other words, "the clergy
has already ceased to be a political body.
It depends on the
law to declare teat it will no longer be a body in the state.
la regard to the wealth* the nation can take it back, since
it has permitted the clergy to possess the wealth in toe
first place**
This was in no sense a blow at private pro-
»When toe clergy was forbidden to acquire real estate*
toe natural rights were not violated as they would have been
if dealing with an individual*
With regard to the incumbents*
they have toe right to the enjoyment, not toe ownership of
lands* not to the whole of toe revenues* but to toe part sufn
€icing for their subsistence.*
To these statements toe eloquent Abbe Maury* speak­
ing for toe clergy, retorted angrily, «M. Thouret distin­
guished legal bodies from Individuals; toe latter can exist
without toe law, but toe former exist only by toe law; I can
discover in such metaphysics only a rather barren logic.
fhouret defines ownership as being a circumstance in which
one can kill without its being called homicide*
Hie ques­
tion of homicide Is far removed from that of ownership*
Thenrst pretends that ownership was a right existing even
before there was any law; but I would embarrass M. Thouret
if 1 should ask of M m explanations on these points before
giving us the stories of individuals; if I should ask Just
these rights created or recognised even before the law
existed; if nature made distinctions between ♦bodies1 and
individuals, and what were toe ownerships anterior to toe
law*..M. Uhoureb said that toe suppression of a political
body is not homicide, and this is certainly a place for
metaphors I
As for me, I sgy more simply that if the
existence of a body is Ita moral life, Its suppression Is
a moral homicide.**
'fhe adroit Thouret, cool and unruffled, answered
the irate Abbe In his next speech;
fll hare sought the op­
portunity to reply to the Abbe Maury, sine© he ha© done me
the honor of picking me out particularly; he has accused
me, in his very unpatriotic and pompous peroration, of haw­
ing merely arranged sentences; 2 do not claim this merit, for
the honor remains, in the eyes of connoisseurs, with the
Abbe vaury.
He accuses me of hawing used metaphysical
ideas; but can one use anything else with the clergy, with
fbodies* which, by a fiction, partake of the rights of indlvi&uaX&v.. ..The Nation, In place of levying a tax, gave
property to the clergy; but it Is none the less © fictional
being, which is incapable of carryI m: out any transaction.
If that were not the case, Why should the Nation have the
right to suppress or to give the benefices1?*
He then com­
pared the clergy to a damaged tool which the Nation as a
workman was interested in repairing.
He was much applauded
for this 11Ingenious and true comparison.*1
It was evident that the press considered Thouret
to have bested laury in this debate on individual versus
corporate rights.
In regard to Thouret1s first speech, the
Courier d© Provence described his ^compact logic, sharpness
of View, and clearness of expression, n adding that **W0
shall refer those of our readers who desire to investigate
this question further and to dispel the slightest doubt on
the right of the nation to the ecclesiastical property, to
fh©uret#s printed speech.*1 The Journal
m x le praised his
•ready flow of Ideas and clarity of language,» while the
Shroniaue de Paris* not to be outdone, gave Its bit of ac­
•A forceful and
victorious logic, a precision which
sacrifices nothing to clarity, this wise tone which belongs
only to the members of a legislative body, such are the
characteristics which distinguish this motion of ThoureVs.
He left nothing for his opponents to say.*
Buquesnoy de­
#A£er this speech had there been a vote, there Is
no doubt that a majority would have decided the clergy le
not the owner, so great was the effect of the combined
genius and Virtue of Thenret regardless of how immoral the
proposition might be.*
After fhouret*s rebuttal of Maury*s objections,
Buquesnoy remarked, "The question is not yet decided, but
it seems to me that
if. Thouret has brought around to his
point of view those who had shown the greatest aversion to
Besides, a discussion was never conducted more reason­
ably or more coolly,.*.while the Abbe Maury boldly offended
the attitudes and opinions of a large part of the Assembly.*
JW m m & i m m
t Altered that *H. Thouret, in a
concise reply, has proved it (the right to confiscate) to
all sensible listeners, even if he has not convinced the
And this tmn was later a victim of the Terror!*0
The distinction between individual and corporate
rights was reaffirmed by B a m a ve, a lawyer and ardent
Revolutionary, who was eventually guillotined.
This vain
and somewhat credulous man maintained that while the clergy
Insisted that It had the s&me right of self-determination as
Individuals, »it is only the prerogative of the nation to
make laws; the priesthood Is only a profession* the clergy
only an aggregation of priests created for public utility
and the service of the Nation.H
Thus the clergy could not
claim ownership as could the Individual; Halithat it possesses
is for the good of the Ration.
«There exists in right and reason a distinction
between private property and public property,*» asserted
puport,'"and the wealth of the clergy is of the latter type.*
This able jurist and liberal noble was closely associated
with B&rimve during this period.
When the lawyer Treilhard rose to present a similar
argument contrasting the rights of individuals with those
of bodies like the Church, the Poifrt
jlgRJE- uoted that *his
reasoning was as forceful as it was luminous,H and while
Duquesnoy felt that he discussed the issue In a drier, less
interesting maimer than had Thouret, he recognised that
Treilhar&Vs reasoning was Hconcise and forceful*#*^
Tre Ilhard, who later promulgated toe civil consti­
tution of toe clergy, went further than had the other propo­
nents of confiscation, to differentiate between the Church
and toe ©lergyj **fhe Church is the assemblage of the faith­
ful, and it Is In this sense that one says, •Outside of the
Church there is nothing.* *
It was to toe clergy that he referral,
then, when he stated that only the law could give to a civil
or political body the right to possess, a right which it
could therefore take away at will.
The law could, also kill
this civil or political body without being homicidal, that
is, it could suppress or dissolve the body.
the same made previously by Thouret.
This point was
Dupont, the economist who had been secretary of
education for Poland, also stressed the difference between
ownership by individuals and by groups.
He traced the develop­
ment of the Church as a powerful corporation that had usurped
more and more power until it resembled a republic within an
empire; since it had abused its corporate powers, the Ration
could and should suppress it, recognizing at the same time
that the abuses were the fault of the body and not of any
Individuals composing it.
Thus the Ration was striking at
the ownership of the Church as a body and not at the pro­
perty rights of the individual members.^5
Mirabeau in turn made a sharp distinction between
individuals or citizens having sacred rights to the protec­
tion of toe laws, since they would exist without laws and
the laws would exist only for them, and legal bodies which
had received endowments and were able to receive them only
through toe law.
«But groups.. ..were formed by society,
and they must cease to be at toe moment when they cease to be
like toe other speakers favoring confiscation, he
felt that in relation t© toe State, individual right a dif­
fered from those of corporate bodies formed by a State which
had in turn been foamed to protect Individual property rights*
»The Nation has certainly the right to establish or not to
establish any bodies....If anyone denies that, I shall
prove that the bodies cannot be elements of the social order,
since they do not exist at the moment when society is formed,
as they have only a moral existence as given to them by the
law which created them.11
to this point the Abbe Maury had made the rejoinder
that bodies could establish themselves without recourse to
the law, simply through the wish of individuals who chose to
form a political circle.
tion to refute i
Mirabeau found this an easy objec­
*It is not merely the material union of the
people who form a political aggregation that causes such an
aggregation to be regarded as an individual in a general
society $ which gives it a personality distinct from that of
its members| which enables it to participate in civil af­
fairs. #
Only society (that is, the Nation, or toe law) could
confer such rights upon the body.
According to Mirabeau it
followed that since toe Nation had toe right to establish or
not to establish bodies, «ib has equally toe right to decide
if these bodies that it admits can or cannot be owners.
Nation has this right because if the bodies exist only by
virtue of the law, it is up to the law to modify toeir
existence; toe faculty of being an owner belongs to civil
rights, and the law must decide what eivil rights to accord
to toe aggregations it created.11
The Abbe Maury here had interposed the objeotlons
that the Hatl@n w e actually destroying the clergy as a body,
since no body could exist without property.
Mirabeau how
asked the pertinent question, HWh&t are the domains of the
magistracy and of the army?.... What then was the property of
the clergy in the first ohurch?
ghat were the domains of
the members of the first councils ?tf It was even conceivable
that a social state could exist without property*
It wag
therefore no paradox to conceive of a clerical body without
At this juncture he boldly reminded the Abbs
that even if it were a true question of destruction, the
Hatlon had a right to destroy the bodies it created, Just
as it had the right to create them and to decide whether
they could be owners. It followed from this that if the
Ration could destroy the bodies, it could also destroy their
properties, or their ownership.
Either of these two lines
of argument would be sufficient, then, to answer the Abbe*s
complaint that a body could not exist without property;
that depriving the clergy of property did not necessarily
destroy it as a body, and that even if it did, the destruc­
tion of the body and of its property was within the rights
of the nation.
To clarify still further the difference between
individual property rights and those of bodies like the
Church, Mirabesu pointed out these factors*
that each person possesses by virtue of the
right of possession that he has given to Others,
and that all have given to a single person; now
this first characteristic does sot fit Is with
the property of the Church or any other body.
That the right upon which Individual properties
are founded are coexistent with the establishment
of societies, since it ha® its origin in the right
of each individual to share in the advantages
that all the other members would have when they
for a political aggregation; now this second
characteristic does not fit in with the land® of
the clergy or of any other body; having been
established only after society was formed, they
can have no coexistent right with it, which forms
part of the social pact.
That it is not necessary for distinct laws to
assure the domain of individual properties; for,
unless ordered by toe principle, a community of
possessions, the establishment and the guarantee
of wealth to toe individuals, is a necessary
cons©cuenee of the founding of society; now this
third characteristic is still foreign to the
Church land® and to those of any other body.
is evident, then, from such considerations, that
the capacity to acquire would be the work only
of toe legislature and of toe law.*
Bef erring to an earlier objection made by Maury,
to both Mlrabeau and Thouret, Mirabeau said in conclusion,
#Maury may still complain that X have used metaphysics;
shall ask M i how on® ©an define without metaphysics the
property of the State, the relationship between a natural
state and a social state, the nature of a moral body, and
the relation between civil rights and political rights.11
When the object of a discussion was metaphysical by its
very nature, metaphysical terns would have to be used.
sly satire Mir&beau closed his speech with the remark, *But I
am wrong to make these observations to the Abbe Maury; he
has already shown us twice in the same debate how one cam
answer these objections that are metaphysical without meta­
The second point made by the proponents of oonfl seation to prows that the measure would be just, was that
in terms of definitions of ownership, the Church was a usu­
fructuary or an administrator rather than an owner or pro­
While some regarded the terms usufructuary and
as synonymous and others gave them distinct
meanings, they nevertheless agreed that the Church could not
be considered as an owner.
M. Chapelier had two proposition to present in
relation to this discussion of the functions of the Church:
Ihe people of the morte-main have never had any
property; every establishment, including the
clergy, has received its sustenance from the Na­
tion to be executed in the best interests of the
Details of this execution have been en­
trusted to them, but never have they become
proprietors of these means.
The clergy has never been & proprietor, but only
an administrator.
One cannot recognise a land­
lord la the person of a usufructuary; he was only
an administrator.
The prayers of the Church are
for the Katlon; in times of pressing need, the
income of the $hurch is for the people, that is,
the Nation.
The M&tion could not take these if
it were not the true owner or proprietor.*
Chapeller in this discussion was making no distinction be­
tween a usufructuary as one who enjoyed the use of property
and an administrator as one who merely supervised its use.
He pointed out the contradictions in the reasons brought
forward in support of the ownership of the clergy*
ing to same, it possesses as a body, while according t©
others by a substitute title; one person attributes the pos­
sessions to the churches, while another attributes them to
the provinces.
All these contradictions are prejudgments
in favor of national ownership.
For to avoid public expense
it has been necessary to permit the clergy to acquire; it
had not acquired for itself, for it is only a usufructuary
of the lands.*
Furthermore, he continued, the clergy had never
been able to perform acts that constituted ownership.
w Hq w ,
has the clergy ever been able to perform any act of owner­
Can it sell?
Can it even change the dimensions
of its lands, of its lodgings?
Can it acquire?
It can do nothing that characterises ownership without the
authority of the Hation or its delegate. *. *Xt Is objected
that the chancellor Dupr&t, when he proposed to declare that
the wealth of the clergy belonged to the Nation, did sot
that p r o m s only that the clergy were powerful
enough in the court to have this minister exiled....They
cite the capitularies? but, gentlemen, reflect that they were
made when there were three orders, when the clergy, taking
advantage of its ascendancy and of the ignorance of the
people, said, *X am the first order of the State, and X must
be an owner***
Ghapelier also pointed out that the extreme
inequality between different portions of the Church corpora­
tion, the contrast between the magnificence of some temples
and the poverty ©f others indicated that the clergy had
never exercised the rights of ownership toward Itself.
an owner it could have sold its surplus wealth in one region
to purchase additional lands and buildings for its establish­
ments in another region, so that there would have been a
more equitable distribution of its wealth.*®
$be i m x m l M
lM X U 3 & gfc M M
?*lt that
Ghapelier had revived the opposition to the clergy by these
•new and interesting observations* #
The clergy existed only for and
the Nation,*
observed Barnave; "the Nation could therefore take back from
its hands the wealth which had only been given for the good
of the Nation and for various public uses.
That is, the
clergy is only the administrator and the State the depositor.
It it is up to the nation to maintain the churches, it is
then up to the Nation to direct the distribution.
The clergy*s role as admini strator rather teas
owner w&s referred to by Thouret, although he did sot stress
this particular point so much as other aspects of the problem
©f Justifying confiscation*
The clergy had been an owner only
in the sense that the Nation had delegated to it the manage­
ment of the lands,, retaining the right to withdraw these
lands from the Church administration when such a mows seemed
The clergy had a right only to the usufruct, or
to assure them an honest subsistence*^*
pupont analysed the clergy* s role as usufructuary
or administrator by first defining ownership, and then show­
ing that the relationship of the clergy to its lands did not
fit into the definition*
*1 ash first, what is ownership?
It is the right to enjoy for oneself; it is the right to
sell, to alienate, to dispose of at will*
These two char­
acteristics are not absolutely the same, for in our times
there exist owners who cannot sell but who enjoy for themselves.
It is necessary then to distinguish them, Those who enjoy J&r ££&s&wk& s &e are but simple administrators*
I disagree with the different canons which declare that all
that belongs to the ecclesiastics is what is strictly neces­
sary for livelihood; toe rest belongs to the poor. * A prefer­
able statement of this last contention would be that "the
clergy administer goods for the maintenance of the servants
of the altar and for toe poor; but if the Nation is not con­
tent with toe administration of toe clergy, it can take
charge of too goods Itself; thus It would hotter fulfill the
objectives of the endowments** in other words, since the
clergy would neither alienate nor enjoy for itself the
wealth placed in its hands, it was not an owner, and the
Hatlon would tahe hash the wealth to administer it more wisel,.ss
freilhard employed a slightly different definition
of ownership, but arrived at tee same conclusions. *Owner­
ship is tee right to use and to abuse; tee clergy cannot
abuse.N He added one of the factors mentioned by Dupopt*
*It cannot alienate or commute save by express permission;
therefore tee clergy is not an owner**
tee clergy was but
an aggregation of individuals charged with divine service.
In performing this service it could use its wealth or lands,
but could not abuse thes*.^
Dupont de Bemcmrs, concerned more with the unwise
use tee Church had made of its privileges in tee past and
with the means for fulfilling the intentions of the donors,
commented but briefly on the definition of tee legal func­
tions of tee Church as contrast with ownership:
*As for the
landed goods, tee individuals (of the clergy) are not the
owners but simply life-tenants; they have some right to the
prevenue of these goods, but this right is equivalent to
that of every other public officer to the salary that has
been promised to him by tee nation**
te® indignant clergy
thereupon argued that at least tee tithe was its own, but
Dupont refused to consider even this a true possession of
that body.
11the clergy cannot pretend to own the tithe, since
It Is a tax, which is an Indivisible property of society de­
stined to pay for religious instruction, Just as the taiile
is a property destined to pay for the military force; thus
the clergy cannot be the owner of the tithes, which are only
a tax; but the members of the clergy have a right to a share
of the revenues toleh form the endowment ©f the clergy after
necessary contributions are deducted to keep too much wealth
from lying in the bands of the clergy.#24
In four different ways the Church was unable to
perform the functions characteristic of ownership, claimed
the lawyer Carat the Younger, who was chiefly famous as the
editor of the & ® M m l M
^hl» elegant and facile
Speaker also announced that though the question under dlscession had been attributed to a new philosophy, it was as
a matter of fact very old.
“First, the clergy cannot alienate
without the authority of the sovereign who is the representa­
tive of the Hatton; second, it cannot assign its lands as
bonds; and it cannot borrow without the consent of the
sovereign; third, the sovereign can divide or reunite the
lands of the clergy, and can change their destination;
fourth, the sovereign names to the bishoprics, to the abbies,
etc....the nation Is then toe universal collector of bene­
Hence the clergy could in no sense be construed
one by one in the case of the clergy all the characteristics
which distinguish the owner from toe life tenant.
Thus the
nation has never acknowledged the clergy as owner, but has
on the contrary continuously given Indications of ownership
of the goods of the clergy**
Tor this reason, said Garat,
#let us banish to© term effilotftatlqp, which should never
have been pronounced.“25
Another defender of confiscation on the grounds of
differentiation of national and clerical functions are the
lawyer potion, known in pari© as the “virtuous Petion, # but
who was later guillotined like many another unfortunate vic­
tim of what he himself called toe “inconstancy of public
As he devoted almost his entire address to the harm
that Church ownership had done, he had only a short comment
to make regarding toe administrative function of toe Church*
#fhe clergy is not the owner of toes© public establishments;
it Is only to© dispenser* what remains of toe foundations is
for the sustenance of the clergy. *. *fhe clergy is like all
other corporations* the clergy performs public fuaiWtions.*26
Mirabeau, with a slightly modified definition of
ownership, was emphatic in pronouncing the Church a usufruc­
ts ownership1? It is toe right to possess exa thing to which in the natural state all have
equal right.
Ownership is toe work of the law, because it
alone can give title, and because it is a guarantee of to©
enjoyment by an Individual; for either all possess and there
is no ownership, or there is usurpation, and there still is
no ownership; or there is material
the law which verified it.*
possession, and it is
At this point he made a distinc-
tion between a usufructuary and an administrator or dispensetor, saying that the cle*gy belonged t© the latter category,
as it had never enjoyed a real usufruct.
Since the clergy
had been called an #owner * only by the express assignment
of the King, the official representative of the nation, the
Ration had kept its ownership intact, and even the temples
and the alters belonged to the nation.
If one argued in
opposition that the goods of the clergy were intended for
the poor, one could reply that the poor and the ill belonged
to the State.
HX will add that the ministers of the gospel
are public officers; that they ought to be paid like the
magistrate and the soldier.
If the clergy had nothing, we
would be forced to salary the members, but the goods which
they enjoy provide their salaries; now certainly a property
which serves to pay our debt is ours.**
At this point the clergy objected that Its public
function did not render the ownership of goods impossible.
To this Mirabeau responded with another comparison of the
clergy with the functionaries of the magistracy and public
**Never has the navy appropriated the vessels that
the people hdv® constructed for the defense of the State;
never, according to our present customs, does an army par­
tition among the soldier© the countries that it has conquered.
Shall it be true of the clergy alone, that the conquests of
Its piety throng the devotion of the faithful are to belong
to it and remain inviolable, Instead of forming a part of
the indivisible domain of the State? ® Certainly the State
would be sensible enough to realize# &s ♦‘distributor of all
ecclesiastical wealth through the nomination of incumbents,H
that it would be foolish to allow the perpetuation of ‘♦count­
less possibilities for corruption and influenceM which Chureh
ownership Implied*
W m u Mir&be&u observed that the clergy had no
right to alienate their property, the Abb£ iiaury maintained
that it was Wisely a new way of conserving its wealth.
“Surely,11 scoffed Mir&beau, *%f the inability to alienate is
a manner of conserving, that at least is not a way of showing
that one can dispose of a thing as a master.
Maury evidently
believes he is proving that the King owns the royal domains
because he has no power to alienate them.“
In summary, then, Mir&beau believed that considera­
tions of ownership established the clergy as an administrator
of its wealth for public purposes, final authority over this
wealth lying in the hands of the nation which had delegated
to the clergy.
An Ingenious argument wag presented by Poule to
prove that its own tenets prevented the clergy from being a
true owner*
He created quite a stir in toe Assembly when
ha pulled a large Bible from his pocket and attempted to
stow that the original church Institution decreed that the
clergy could have merely the usufruct of its wealth in the
service of the poor, to whom the wealth actually belonged*
“The clergy cannot receive, since it must* following
the examples of its chief religious leaders renounce its
riches ana he proud not of its wealth hut of Its poverty.
possessing wealth the clergy has inverted the order of things
established by the original church, which prohibited the
possession of riches.rt By its own doctrines then the clergy
must be a usufructuary rather than an owner, and should be
regarded in that li^dt by the Nation.
An interesting variation from these interpretations
of the respective roles of Churdh and Hation in relation to
the soclesiastla&l property was conceived by the able,
energetic Abbe Oregoire. He was essentially in agreement
with the? other advocates of confiscation, for he was an
avowed Revolutionary and later took the civic oath and be­
came a constitutional bishop,
fhe Hatton* he affirmed*
could take over the Church property, but through the right
of sovereignty rather than the right of ownership,
fee actual
ownership of the lands was in the hands of neither the Nation
tier the Church; fee property belonged to individual families,
to the parishes, and to the provinces:
^Nevertheless, in
spite of these observations, the principle still remains that
the Nation can gather together fee lands for feelr true
purpose and change their mode of administration.1,29
A similar distinction between fee rights of sover­
eignty and ownership on the part of the Nation was made by
another cleric, fee Abbe Jallet. feus while these two pre­
lates were unwilling to admit that the real ownership belonged
to fee Nation, they yet agreed that it was Just to take over
fee lands for State purposes.
Only one of the laity agreed with the distinction
made by the Abbes (Jregoire and pallet, that the Nation could
appropriate the Church lands as a sovereign but not as an
Like them the Oomi© d@ Montlausler believed that
neither the Church nor the Nation was the owner; for the pro­
perty belonged to the individual institutions that made up
the Church.
And like them he believed that this did not
prevent the Nation from confiscating the lands.
But he made
the additional point that in order to exercise its right of
sovereignty the Nation must indemnify the clergy.
the Comte did not Impress his audience with the lucidity of
his argument, he did contribute an oratorical gem which is
still remembered;
"It was a cross of wood, not a cross of
gold, which conquered the world.
fhe third point made by the proponents of confisca­
tion to prove that the alienation of Church property would
be just was that the function of receiving gifts or founda­
tions did not make the Church an owner.
two brief remarks in this connection.
Chapel!er mg da only
First, it had been eon-
tended by the clergy that the rights of the founders passed
to the Church with the foundations.
ChapeH e r answered
sarcastically, "You have spoken of the rights of founders,
but do foundations exist otherwise than by law?
founders been able to fetter the law?"
Have the
obviously, then, the
decrees of the law, istiibh in the present Instance involved
confiscation of Church lands, had precedence over any alleged
rights of founders, whether or not they actually did pass on
to the clergy. A slight revision of the first point of the
elergy was that the ownership of the clergy was toe result
of toe will of toe individuals who had given to toe clergy*
Shapelier retorted that individuals could not establish
bodies save through toe will of toe law.^s
Another speaker who insisted that toe mere receiv­
ing of goods did not make the clergy its owner, was toe Abbe
Dillon, on© of toe few clerics too Joined toe ranks of toe
Here was a priest too felt that the growing ir-
religion of the French people wag due to toe worldliness of
its clergy; he also believed that, deprived of their large
incomes, the ministers would lead toe staple, unassuming
lives that were properly their role according to his point
of view.
He was convinced that aside fro® discussions of
ownership, it was toe duty of toe clergy to renounce its
"One should return to the benefactor that toieh
has been received fro® his generosity toen toe benefactor
himself Is in such a position that he cannot exist without
its remission.
Maburai!$b this speech created quite a senatlon
in the Assembly, and of course was warmly approved by every­
one except the clergy*
Duquesnoy described the Abbe as "one
of toe moot ardent men contained in toe As sembly— and that
is certainly saying a good deal"; toe Abbe had "strongly
supported toe motion of the Bishop of Autun.*
was expressed by toe
fhis paper said, "Happily for the honor of the priesthood.
there have appeared some venerable pastors, among others M.
Billon and M. ©outtes, who have supported the motion* not by
sophistries, but by wise reasonings based on true principles
and sustained by that popular eloquence which distinguishes
the true minister of religion from those who are only reputed
to be suoh.*^
Barnave believed that the function of receiving
did not assure ownership because the original gifts and founda­
tions w©re intended not for the use of the clergy but for the
benefit of the needy*
wThe clergy is doubtless the best and
most noble of professions*H soothingly began this speaker,
«but it exists for the Nation* *. .The wealth of the clergy
comes to it from two sources; either the Nation allots it to
them, and in this case it is a salary, or the wealth has been
given it by founders.
How the foundations are either for the
poor or for the hospitals; in the hands of the clergy it is
a trust, and nothing more.
Bit it is for the Hatioh to care
for the poor, to furnish the upkeej&ing of the churches; it is
for the nation that these gifts have been given while the
clergy is only the distributor.*
And since the clergy was
merely a dispenser of the gifts which had been in reality
given to the Kation, the latter could change the method of
Another clever idea that Barnave presented was
that since money taxes were practically unknown at the
origin of the system, it was necessary to make payment in
benefices, and thus naturally the Church had acquired large
domains. But. since times had changed and money economy had
eome Into existence in society, the nation had every right
to change its method of paying the priests.3®
Tretlhard gave two reasons why the receiving of
gifts and foundations did not make the clergy an owner,
first, the wish of the founders should prevail, and they had
given to the nation.
Second, most of the wealth possessed
by the clergy came from the kings, and since toe kings could
not possess, they could not give ; they could only assign
goods to be held In trust for toe nation.3®
Her had Ghasset any difficulty in proving to his
own satisfaction that toe clergy did not own the gifts it
had received.
#In searching the historical annals to find
out how and when toe clergy has possessed, one sees only
contributions, gifts made for toe public us© and not indivi­
dual acquisitions.
To whom, then, belong these lands?
to the clergy which has acquired them, and which is a moral
body | they belong to the poor, and must not toe State
nourish toe poor?®
Heasorting thus he concluded that toe
State owned the lands which the donors had Intended for toe
support of the poor.3^
darat toe Xounger cited Mmt factors involved in
toe bestowal of foundations upon the clergy that proved they
had been given to the Hatton rather than to toe clergy.
The titles of foundation do not give to the clergy
of France.
The titles of foundation neter give to such and
such individuals of the clergy.
The titles of foundation are generally stated in
the following terms:
*l found such a chapel for
toe public service of the canton.
I give suoh a
sum in order that it may be used in masses, in
prayers for the repose of my soul, etc.*
The Ration has always intervened in the foundation.
This is so true that when the landed property was
hot sufficient to acquit it, the Nation obliged
Heirs to add to these goods.11
Ee*om the first and second facts Qarat concluded
that since the foundations had given neither to groups nor
to individual's, they do not belong to the clergy.
From to©
third and fourth facts he concluded that since the founda­
tions were conditioned by public and national considerations,
the Hation was owner of the foundations; the wording of to©
charters established that the founders had always given for
public worship and public establishments and therefore al­
ways to toe Button.*^
FOule now rose to refute the objections of the
Archbishop of Aix and the Abbe Monteaquiou, too declared that
the clergy was an owner because it had received donation©
from oltisens qualified to give them.
He admitted that an
owner or proprietor could give, but in a donation both the
giver and the receiver must be qualified.
The clergy could
not receive as an owner since it must follow the example of
its religious leaders and be proud of its poverty• Under no
pretext could the Church appropriate and exploit lands in
favor of the individual at the expense of the faithful*
That is, the Church by its own precepts was not qualified
to receive as an owner what the donors were qualified to
Mirabeau examined the rights conferred upon the
clergy by foundations in terms of four possible sources of
They could come from the kings, from other
bodies or communities, from single individuals, or from it­
self .
If the clergy received wealth from the kings, it
could be assorted that all that these Icings gave to fulfill
a public need was by that very fact given by the Nation,
which, without the munificence of the kings, would other­
wise have been obliged to maintain the churches and the
Therefore the nation was the true proprietor
and had the right to take back the lands which belonged
to it and which had been given only by a representative
of the Nation In its name.
If the clergy received wealth from other political
bodies or communities, these bodies gave only In order to
pay their share of the public debt owed by all the communi­
ties and all the people in the kingdom; in this way they
rendered unnecessary a general tax which otherwise the
Nation would have been obliged to assess*
In the light of
this relationship the Nation was still the owner of the lands
or wealth*
If the clergy received wealth through the generosity
of individual®, they undoubtedly were aware of the fact teat
no political body could be an indisputable owner, since the
Nation would be able to declare such a body incapable of
possession; and since they gave the lands for a public good,
they must have expected that it would be the Nation who would
have final authority over them.
Hence their basic intentions
would not be frustrated if the Nation declared itself pro­
prietor of the lands.
If the clergy obtained the lands by Itself, that
is, by acquisitions that its Income permitted, it would be
evident that If such acquisitions were contrary to the will
of the donors, they proourred no new rights for the clergy;
and If it could be proved that the donors approved of the
acquisitions, one could again apply the reasoning pertinent
to situations where the clergy had acquired dlreotly from
the founders or donors.
When the AbbtS Miaury dissented, saying that founda­
tions were assigned not to the Church In general but to
particular churches, MIrabeau replied that the expression ©f
the founder1a purposes revealed that their gifts were in­
tended for public service, over which the Nation had final
petlon affirmed with little discussion the argu­
ment that the founders or donors who gave lands to the
clergy really intended that their disposition should lib
in the hands of tee State.
ttDid not all the titles contain
the express or implied condition that the founders had given
only with the understanding that they should be at the dis­
posal of the State*?
Since it is for the nation that these
donations have been made, the Nation can then modify them;
the Nation, by substituting another revenue, can then withdraw the ecclesiastical wealth The fourth argument proposed in the attempt to
prove that confiscation was Just, was that the Nation could
fulfill the intentions of the donors or founders in taking
over the property of the clergy.
In general, those inten­
tions were that the property should be used for the expenses
of religion and the comfort of the poor; these obligations
the Nation could perform just as well as could the clergy,
me speakers even asserting that the Nation could perform
them better.
In purcult of this last contention some pointed
to the many useless orders in the Church that needed sup­
pression, since they contributed nothing to public welfare.
Several speakers algo made specific suggestions for the
maintenance of the clergy after confiscation of the lands
had taken
One of the intentions of the founders, as already
mentioned, had reference to the support of the poor.
(Shapelier maintained that although the clergy had taken care
of the poor by means of gifts, their maintenance could
readily be left to the State, which would establish work­
shops that would benefit the Nation and gradually do away
with the poor.
He concluded with the proposal that the As­
sembly pass a decree eonfoming to the views of M. Thouret,
that the priests he guaranteed an annual salary of 1200
livres, hut with the amendment that this stipend he paid in
fhle proposal was considered quite fair by the
press, since it was intended to present fluctuations in the
buying power of the priests* salaries, and one of the papers
remarked, *0ue knows his energetic and simple manner; truth
is the only disguise of his eloquence, and all his &iscourses are imbued with the Integrity of his intentions.#^
fbeuret pointed out two specific things that the
Ration could do in fulfilling the Intentions of the donors of
clerical lands,
first, it could distinguish between
less and useful Church establishments, and suppress those
that no longer met the obligations Imposed by the donor* a
intentions; second, it could absorb the royal domains right­
fully In terms of the purposes of the original gift Just
as it could the domains of the Church.
With respect to the various Church organisations,
41If we examine the establIshments of this kind, all have
had a motive of utility, but in some oases reason for their
donation no longer exists; time has caused the original
object to disappear.
Other institutions exist, however,
whose utility still continues.
Hospitals, seminaries, and
colleges are of the latter type; they ought to be supported
if their endowment is not sufficient; but It is necessary
to take care that they do not overburden the royal treasury.
On the other hand, the priories, the abbeys altered by the
order have become useless.
At the time of the endowments
the founders were determined to provide for and perpetuate
certain useful service * to society,
fee value of these
endowments has increased, but to what purpose?
To enrich
certain Individuals who contribute nothing today to society,
fee endowments then no longer serve their original social
passing next to the domains of the King, or of the
crown, if. feeuret maintained that they were the property of
the nation, Hespecially when the Metion takes over the pay­
ment of the civil list, and the other expenses of the govern­
These obligations were to be fulfilled by the royal
domains In accordance with the original purpose In assign­
ing them to the crown,
feis action would be but a logical
extension of the confiscation decree.^
fhouret* s opinions were favorably received as
usual; Buqueanoy felt that #there was no discourse with so
much force as that of 1. Thouret,# while the ypupnal d£ Paris
believed he had ^expanded and ennobled the question.#
&mrlm M
found his defense of the Justice of con­
fiscation #a@ strong as it was ingenious.#^*
dustine, speaking In regard to the suppression of
useless orders, demanded that no more benefices should be
filled until the nation had Issued a decree on the ownership
of the Chureh property; he made the additional point that the
King should request the ecclesiastics who were out of the
country to return within two months on pain of confiscation
of their property.^
Another of the prelates who braved the wrath of
the clergy In supporting the confiscation measure was the
Abb6 Gouttes.
**fhe president ashed him if he wished to speak
for or against the clergy,« read the J U m m l M> 2 M 3 & report
of this occasion.
11*Both for and against,* replied the Abbe
Actually he spoke very much against them,1* As in
the case of Dillon, this open support by a member of the
clergy was widely cheered.
impression on the Assembly.
Sis appearance made a profound
MA large skull~oap which covered
his head, one of those figures whose thinness attests to all
the rigors of penitence, one of those strong voices which
see® to destine a priest to be a missionary, all predicted
that the Abbe (I-outtes would speak in the words of the Gospel •#
It is ironic to note that this patriotic prelate, who after­
ward supported the civil constitution and took the civil
oath, was condemned to death and executed five years later
for protesting against the suppression of all worship.
It was in keeping with the motives of the founders,
said Gouttds, that enough of the property be reserved for
the clergy to keep them comfortable, but that the monasteries
be suppressed, as well as the abbeys which had taken in
people before they were old enough to enter the Church.
had this additional suggestion to make regarding the support
of the clergyi
HI find that it would perhaps be more fitting
to give, especially to the pastors and religious houses that
you wish to maintain, landed property sufficient for their
subsistence rather than money.11 Immediately after decreeing
that it would take over whatever properties exceeded that
necessary for the altar services and ministers, the nation
should, he believed, decree the immediate suspension of
appointments to simple benefices*
Meanwhile an ecclesiastical
committee could be selected to work out a plan for reuniting
the regular houses of the same order so that the monks
would be grouped together in sufficient numbers.
Jn response to clerics who Insisted that the wealth
they had accumulated through their own economies belonged to
them, the Abbe in a 4<violent diatribe# criticised the rich­
ness of the Ohurch, and the system of collecting revenues
which had resulted la heavy exactions from the income and
wealth of the people.
The fact that they were collected in
such a manner did not place them beyond governmental juris­
#But if these requisitions, if these economies
have been made on revenues of which the excess ought to be
used for the relief of the poor, for charitable institutions,
have they changed their nature for all that?
is it not always the same?
fhelr destiny,
And cannot bh? Nation take charge
of the product of these alleged economies as of that of the
original organ!gallons in fulfilling the conditions which
derive from the title, and which the possessors have only
rarely respected?**4®
Barnave likewise asserted that since the care of
the poor was one of the intentions of the founders who contri­
buted to the wealth of the clergy, and since the care ©f the
poor was within the Jurisdiction of the Nation, it could
legitimately take over the clerical wealth and use it for the
relief of toe poor*
He also suggested that Hlrabeau1s mo­
tion be changed so that the part dealing with the salary of
toe parish priests be made to read wnot less than 1200 francs, *
so that it would be regarded as a minimus rather than as a
fixed salary.4^
X^*pont defined toe intentions of the founders in
these wordss
#Th© founders in giving toe wealth to the Church
have dome so only for toe utility of the Nation.* m
words, the wealth was given for toe general welfare, and if
the Nation took over toe lands to fulfill this purpose, it
was rightfully replacing toe Clergy.
Hif the nation takes
toe place of toe clergy, if It uses its revenues for the
same purpose, if it carries out the purpose of the founda­
tions, does it not result In the general welfare of to©
He then outlined a few suggestions for improving
the ©eonomXo condition of the people.
Xn conclusion he asked
that 1200 livre© be allowed the cures, not including a dwell­
ing and a garden or inclosure.4®
Trellhard bluntly stated that the Nation could ful­
fill toe intentions of toe founders Just a© well as the
clergy could.
Furthermore, ttif toe Nation aoquite its ob­
ligations and assures it a livelihood, it has no right to
complain*— that is, complain about toe alienation of its
Some specific ways of fulfilling the intentions of
founders with reference to the maintenance of religion were
described by Dupont. He seemed more concerned than most of
toe confiscation proponents toat the clergy should be given
adequate maintenance when the decree went into effect,
ia necessary that the cures enjoy a subsistence considerable
enough to allow charity for the poor; they should have 1200
llvres in the smallest villages, while this sum should be
progressively augmented in terms of the number of homes.
the cures In the towns need better means because of the sis©
of the population and because of the misfortunes which can
afflict the artisans.*
fh© goods of toe clergy should be a€U
ministered on behalf of the nation In the various provinces
of the kingdom, until oircurnstances became favorable for
their alienation and for a more Just division of the revenues
among toe ministers of the altar.
Such revenues would be
advanced to them by toe national bank in the department
where each was domiciled.
He added that the salary of toe
©eelesl&stioe would be exempt from all taxes and that their
patrimonial goods should be meted out to them alone. SO
The fulfillment of to© wishes of the original
donors might involve the modifioatL on or even toe abolition
of the existing religion by the Nation, according to <3&r&i
the younger.
*Their expressions establish the fact that toe
founders always thought of the public good and of the Nation.
If toe number of toe ministers Is too great, If the ministers
appear too rich, if religion— and I beg that you consider my
supposition only as a form of reasoning— if religion, I say,
appears to favor disorder and to destroy toe customs...would
the Nation not have to© right to abolish religion, the ser­
vices, and the ministers and to use their wealth for a more
moral religion?
Will not the Mation he able to diminish the
number of ministers, decrease their wealth* and change the
To this rhetorical question the speaker un-
doubtedly expected an affirmative reply.
Mir&be&u, in characteristically thorough fashion,
listed the five objectives of the founders and pointed out
how the MatIon could fulfill them*
1. The services of religion
2. The upkeep of the temples
5. The-comfort of the poor
4* The maintenance of the priests
6. Prayers for the families of the founders
The first four objectives pertained to the public good and
as such would be properly subsidized by the nation, which
had final authority in all considerations of the general
*1 can say of the fifth that it is easy to unde^
stand how in eras of ignorance the majority of founders con­
fused the true religion with the religious objectives
motivating their own foundations and determining their
liberalities! but it will be enough to answer that the in­
dividual foundations will none the less be filled, whether
or not the clergy is owner* and besides, the members of
the clergy know that all the pr&yers of the Church, even
when they have a particular destination, still have in mind
the common good of all the faithful followers.1*
Two more p&tnts were made by this shrewd politi­
In the first place, it would be impossible for the
Church to fulfill the obligations implicit in the founda­
tions without the instrumentality of the nation.
would become of religion if the State should succumb0 Would
great calamities then he strangers to these ministers of
peace and charity, who ask each day that the Supreme Being
bless a faithful people?
Would the clergy conserve its goods,
if the State could tm longer defend those of other citizens?
Would they respect its so-called ownerships, If all the
others were to be violated?# The second point was a reitera­
tion of the determination expressed by other speakers that
in fulfilling the intentions of the founders the Nation would
not neglect the clergy.
WI have not meant either that It
was necessary to deprive the ecclesiastics of the administra­
tion of the goods and of the revenues whose product must be
assured b© them.
Why, what interest would.we have in dis­
placing public agent© and faithful treasurers whose hands
are clean?”^
The only suggestion petion had to offer regarding
the manner in which the Nation could meet the obligations
imposed by the founders, was that the ecclesiastic®-! lands
ought not to be used as a guarantee for the creditors of the
State, but should remain in the hands of each province for
the support of the ministers and for charitable and patrioti©
©si&bli shments .®
Even the Abbe pallet recognised that the Nation
could handle the ecclesiastical wealth nmore advantageously
and more usefully11 than could the Church itself; at the same
time the Nation should, as part of the process of fulfilling
founders1 intentions, make provision for the support of the
ministers, particularly the cures, and 11suppress the useless
establishments, for It would b& impolitic as well as immoral
to allow them to exist.* Xs pursuance of these aims, he pro­
posed a list of six articles, among which was one concerning
the suppression of chapters reserved for the nobility; this
item was applauded by the Assembly.^4
A final word regarding the $&tioa*s fulfillment of
founders1 intentions came fro® that great philanthropist,
writer, and patron of scientific agriculture, the 2Xio $0
Boehefoueauli, who devoted most of his address to this topic .
He Quoted from Turgot and pointed to toe example set by
Poland in order to prove his point that while toe Mation
owned toe lands, to© carrying out of toe will of the founders
involved giving toe actual enjoyment or usufruct of toe
properties to the clergy.
*Turgot, geoto&men, was equally
convinced toat toe usufructuary enjoyment belongs to the
actual titulars, and that public right, toe positive laws,
and public faith assure this to toe®, with toe subtraction
only of those charges, public as well as individual, for which
these hinds of wealth ©an be held.
A State for which Franc©
ought rather to be a model than an imitator, Poland, which
has just this year pronounced a decree similar to that which
has been proposed to you, conserved the rights of toe actual
The Duo then suggested adding to the original mo­
tion six proposals of his own dealing with the compensation
of the clergy and with toe suppression of useless orders:
Thai the salary of the cures, outside of lodging
and a graden* will be at least 1200 11wee, eval­
uated in grain® at the price level of ten year® ago*
**2* fhat the numerical value of suoh a salary will in­
crease in proportion to the increase in the price
of grains.
Jn regard to the bishops and other bene fleers * if
the sale of the ecclesiastical goods be ordained
before the extinction of these actual titulars*
there will be allotted to these titulars an
honorable livelihood proportionate to the importance
of their functions as well as to the value of their
fhat all religious orders will be immediately sup­
fh&t the monks and nuns will receive a suitable
pension proportionate to the faculties of their
orders# and that houses will be assigned where
those who wish to continue to live as a community
may reunite.
fhat as soon a® the decree is rendered* the As­
sembly will order that seals be placed on all the
ecclesiastical charters.»
Ids proposals evidently evoked favorable responses* for one
of the papers praised him in the following ternst
**He rare­
ly speaks without giving new proofs of his patriotic senti­
ments* of the care that he takes in allying the exactitude
of principles with wisdom and Justice in their application.11
the commentator added that his six articles 11breathe Justice
for the useful and Industrious part of the Another
paper, the Courier de
lauded him for his apt ©x-
position of the principles advaneed by furgot.
The fifth point made by confiscation proponents to
prove that the decree would be just, was that the basis ©f
judgment should always be the general welfare.
This last
phrase seasoned the addresses of most of those who were striv­
ing to Justify the alienation of the Church wealth.
One could
almost say that it had for the Revolutionaries an emotional
connotation equivalent to that enjoyed by u¥ive le roll# in
the h&ppler days of the monarchy.
To say that a given action
was designed for Hthe general welfareH was a verbal attempt
to affix a seal of approval to the action under c©Bfideration.
dh&pelier emphasised the fact that the present
interpretation of the general welfare should not be over-,
shadowed by outmoded interpretations.
11You support your con­
tentions with the capitularies and decree a of the Estate ageneral; but what sort of argument is that which opposes the
will of the Ration to a later will?
It is Just the same as
saying that the Ration can never alter its forms of enjoy­
ment, reform its abuses, or suppress vicious institutions.
Is the authority of those capitularies very imposing when
one remembers that they arose In a period only too well known
when the clergy had established a vast empire an the weakness
and the ignorance of the people?#
The clergy was defending
itself, then, with edicts promulgated on its own behalf in
the days before the people had a voice.
*Persons, things, all are yielded to the Nation, *
generalized the able Ihouret.
#No ameaas should be overlooked
whleh contributes to the general good.*
Even more positive
was a later statement that #the national interest is above
all rules.
Since the purpose of all the Assembly measures was
to promote the public welfare, even present religious forms
eould be modified or suppressed in order to achieve this end,
according to the pious doubles.
^Everyone knows that if
the benefices arc increased too much, as are the religious
houses, that if certain ones do not perform their duties,
Ration has W » right to suppress the benefices, to com­
bine the houses again, and to order the use of the revenues
In the manner most useful to religion and to society.*
this statement he was not placing on an equal basis the
present national needs and the professed clerical needsj
he was thinking of religion In its simple, primitive form,
when its interests and alms were no incompatible with those
of the general public.^
TreiXhard would amost go so far as to maintain
that the right of the clergy to possess could be taken away
on the mere grounds that its possession of this right was
contrary to the general interest*
As quoted earlier, he
believed that the State eould kill a civil or political
tody without its being considered a homicide^ as a corollary
it could deprive this tody of certain prerogatives previously
accorded It, when the State decided that these prerogatives
were harmful to the general interest*
*Xt can therefore with­
draw from the clergy Its properties and the right to possess
collectively what the State has ceded It In former times.#
Ghaeset arrived at a similar conclusion concerning
the Importance of the general interest, for he exclaimed,
ttMust not national interest take precede m e over the Interest
of a body?H
As his address was shorter than most of those
cited, he did not elaborate his point further, and thus ran
the rich of appearing as dogmatic as his priestly competitors
like doubt©s, Garat the lounger felt that the best
measure of the present religion was its service to the public;
If this religion failed to perform its public functions
satisfactorily, the nation could substitute another religion
and use the Ghurch wealth in any way that would contribute
to the public welfare*
#If the religion should appear to
favor an order which destroys the customs of the people, under
these circumstances the gabion would have the right to abolish
the religion and the ministers and use their wealth for a
more moral religion. #
Finally the most forceful speaker of the confisca­
tion group made his observation that *all personal interests
disappear before the supreme law of the State;# to Mlrabeau
this supreme law was public utility, and this ttmust not be
offset by a superstitious respect for what was called the in­
tention of the founders, as if some unknown and shortsighted
individuals had the right to chain to their capricious will
toe generations to come, nor by toe fear of harming toe
alleged rights of certain groups, as If these groups had
rights contradictory to those of toe State.-*
Sis was not a
bald generality like a few of those quoted earlier, for he
had built up his points through a long, carefully organized
sequence of argument s.
In summary, then, the advocates of confiscation
attested to prove that toe measure would b© Just by elaborat­
ing toe following arguments:
Sins# toe State had created
the corporate body known as the Church, tods body ted no
rights except those that toe State chose to bestow*
one of
these tights was toe usufruct or administration of the pro­
perties acquired torou^i gifts or foundations.
Such proper­
ties were not truly owned by toe Church because it ted been
toe Intention df toe dorinors of founders that they should be
used for public purposes and not for the personal enrich­
ment of the clergy*
And sines such public purposes were en­
tirely within toe Jurisdiction of toe State, it could ade­
quately meet toe obligations imposed by the founders, by
taking over the Church properties and disposing of them for
toe general interest*
Its action was amply Justified by the
fact that toe final criterion for Judging toe wisdom of a
measure was always toe extent to which It contributed to the
general welfare.
toe second major argument propounded by toe ad­
herents of the confiscation measure was that the alienation
of the Ghureh lands would be economically advantageous, In
spite of the contrary view expressed by the clergy.
the economic aspect of the problem was not stressed quite so
much by those favoring confiscation as by those opposing
it, we can ©till find here a variety of lines of reasoning
purporting to prove that alienation would be profitable;
Advantages to the general public
a. Avoidance of bankruptcy
b. Abolition of the
e. Benefits of small, individually owned farms
d. Benefits of pastor's agricultural woarifc
Advantages to the clergy
a* improved financial operation of establish­
b. Benefits of pastor's agricultural work
The first economic advantage to the general public
cited on behalf of confiscation was that the taking over of
the Church property would enable the Nation to avert bank­
Barnave and Dupont laid great stress on this argu­
Bamave pictured the difficulties that made necessary
an immediate Increase in the national income:
*fhe pressure
of circumstance necessitates great sacrifices; the suppression
of the tithes, the need of increasing the income of the cures,
justly ought to make the nation determined to effect a new
distribution of the goods of the clergy.
way for us to avoid bankrupted*
It is the only
The public credit depends
upon the sale of the real estate of the olergy, which the
evident practicability, thepubllo necessity, and the relief
of the pastors reader indispensable.®
other indications
from the times would lead one to believe that Barnave was
putting into words the one set of factors that was most
influential in forcing toe Issue of confi©cation.
In reporting this speech, toe £ s & & M
this editorial oomment following Its resumes
could have added this great considerations
WM. B&rnave
that by means of
toe alienation of toe eeeleslastlcal lands the disastrous
tax of toe fe&belle could be entirely banished, toe burden of
the taxes soon lightened, and toe venality of toe magistracies
destroyed.» Evidently toe editor was even more optimistic
about toe effects of confiscation than was toe speaker himeel*.03
Bankruptcy was also a primary concern of Dupont.
Be dared to mention this term in spite of uthe famous de­
claration which you have made, that it is not permissible to
pronounce toe infamous word of bankruptcy.* But this was
am emergency situation*
HIt is necessary to relieve toe poor,
to pay off toe debts of the country, to reimburse toe charges
of toe
ludiolary.* He then cleverly inserted toe remark
that as councillor of toe P&rlemenb of Paris he was donating
his services to toe nation; in this way he was making a gift
of 60^000 livres to toe nation*
action as followsj
One paper interpreted this
^perhaps he hoped that toe example of
a good eibtsen, in giving up what rightfully belonged to
him, could persuade the Monseigneurs of the higher clergy to
mo longer wish to retain what did not belong to them at all;
but lb these gentlemen should willingly give up their pro­
perty they doubtlessly would fear that toe people might
distrust their patriotism, since that is a virtu© too profane
for prelates to profess -41 This sarcasm is indicative of
press attitudes toward the clergy at this stage in the
The abolition of the gabelle or salt tax was an­
other econorale advantage envisaged by Dupont. He pointed
oat all the implications of such a moves
*X©u have heard
ranch about the creditors of the State, but even more im­
portant is the Question ©f the welfare of the provinces, to
be achieved by the abolition of the gabelje. which is not in
the interest of the creditors of the State • you have expressed
a wish that the different taxes on legal proceedings be sup­
This item entails, in the parleaent of paris alone,
ten or eleven millions; it would require from forty to fifty
millions for the suppression of this tax; the public duties
demand a man who ©an devote himself thereto completely; it
could be necessary to find means to compensate him for the
Five or six millions would be needed for the new
Judges; it would thus be necessary to raise this money from
the people if you do not want the ecclesiastical properties.
All the annuities could not be reduced; some of them are
Just, and there are others whose reduction would mean extreme
Finally, it is necessary to provide means of re­
paying the expenses of the Judicature.*1 The only way of
avoiding such taxation, according to Dupont, would be by the
assumption of the ecclesiastical lands.
The third economic advantage of confiscation would
be the benefits arising from the division of the huge Church
estates into small, Individually owned famrs, as Thouret
visualised the situation.
His point of view was that sines
France was an agricultural nation, it was important that the
lands he in toe hands of own®r-op©rators who would he more
interested in their development than would toe usufructuaries
the latter would he wore interested in profits than in ade­
quate land utilisation.
#fhe faculty of bodies to possess
has drained dry our political prospects, for when the lands
were once in their hands, toe other citizens were deprived
of them.
The huge possessions of usufructuaries are harmful
to toe Interests of nations; what they once have at their
disposition return® no wore into private hands.
must have real proprietors, and one cannot regard as such
toe factitious proprietors who like minors can handle only
the usufruct, and are toe enemies of effluent land utiliza­
tion. * At the same time it Is Interesting to note that
Thouret recognised the advantage of communal ownership of
forests and provided that they he preserved for toe nation
rather than he sold to private individuals.®®
the advantage of encouraging agricultural work on
the part of the pastors was pointed out fey toe Abbe Gouttes,
who suggested their endowment in lands Instead of money.
science of farming would benefit greatly, he believed; the
pastors would thus encourage
agriculture In their pari toes,
and they would fee better able to help the poor.
The economic advantages of confiscation to the
clergy naturally were not given so much attention as the
advantages to the general public * this was to be expected in
an Assembly where "the general interestH was a magic phrase.
Too, it was to be expected that the advantages cited would
be more obvious to the poorer members to the poorer members
of the clergy than to those who had come to take for granted
the wealth and prestige they had been enjoying.
The economical
operation of establishments and the benefits of the clergy* s
participation in agriculture would not be inviting arguments
Thouret mentioned some ways whereby toe establish­
ments could be run more efficiently,
"Among toe colleges,
toe hospitals, and toe tevn-houees, some are under toe charge
of toe public treasury; In some others, toe expense has inbut not toe landed revenue.
It would be necessary
their landed ownership and convert it into capital;
toe interest would be considerable, and economy in administra­
tion, in toe expenses of management, and in buildings, would
be certain*8^®
It was understandable that toe Abbe SouttSs, who
wished to see religion return to its earlier simplicity,
toe advantages of agricultural work to toe memof toe clergy,
toil© engaged in such an occupation,
less frequently be exposed to toe temptations of
>, prophesied toe ascetic Abbe,
In addition to toe specific advantages to the public
and to the ©lergy itself, speakers occasionally made general
statements regarding the economic advantages of confiscation
without any concomitant discussion of the point.
M. Buzot
was an example; he felt that proof could readily be acquired
to show *that the superfluous wealth of the clergy can be
useful to the nation;1* he also suggested that commissioners
be appointed to ascertain the extent of the clerical debt
so that the amount of the surplus could be determined.70
finally , a word of caution about the economic
utiltt&tion of the lands was given by Potion and also by the
Due &e Roche feuoault. Fetion believed that the immediate
actual alienation of all the Church wealth would be a »dan­
gerous convulsion."
The Nation should act **with wise slow­
ness,* in order to achieve % just and lasting solution.*
was interesting to observe that this caution came from a man
who had devoted most of his address to a discussion of the
harmful effects of Church ownership.
The Due d@ Boohefoueault
was of the opinion 11that the sale of the ecclesiastical
lands ought not to be .carried out to the point of extinction
in terms of political economy and financial advantage this
operation performed successively (in a series of sales)
would be preferable to a total and simultaneous sale of
the crown and Church lands.*
in contradiction of the GXergyfs statement that
confiscation would be dangerous, the advocates of the measure
Insisted that Church ownership Itself was harmful.
objections could be classified as follows:
1. Luxury and license of the clergy
2* Misuse of authority
3. Economic harm
4. Favoritism sho^n to the rich
5. Resultant Protestantism
An earlier chapter traced the development of public
opinion toward the clergy, where more and more emphasis was
place on the unsavory personal lives of the members.
ence a to the personal corruption of the clergy crept Into
the speeches la spite of the indignant protests of a defen­
sive Church group.
Gh&pelier remarked* *Th© Church has only
too often had occasion to bemoan a scandal among its leaders*
and to sigh over the conduct of a throng of shameless Abbes.H^
Barn&ve and the two Abbes, Billon and Gouttea, agreed that
there was an unfortunate contrast between clerical opulenee
and the poverty of toe people*
ttIs it a maxim of this holy
religion that its ministers should swim In opulence and plea­
sures tolls millions of men are reduced to beggary?
Is it a
maxim of religion that the snored name of its ministers
should be given to thousands of ecclesiastics without func­
tions* who reap where they do not sow, who live from the altar
without serving the altar?
And if the aim of this religion
is to make people happy and good, if the vice® that It com­
bat® are not natural to man, and if they are toe deplorable
effect of our political institutions, toleh often attach
riches and pleasures to idleness, and indigence to toll, how
could its ministers refuse a reform which, while relieving
the misery of toe people, would remove the source of their
vices and bring religion back to its true principles?*
Gouttes in another portion of his speech mentioned that while
there were many worthy clerics, there were also Hthose in the
Church who merited the persecution that it has experienced.
Confiscation would lead to an improvement in the
lives of the clergy* Mlrabe&u believed.
It was Important
*that a more edual distribution of the wealth of the Church
he opposed henceforth to the luxury of those who are only the
dispensers of the goods of toe poor* and to the license of
those whom religion and
00010 %
living examples of purity.*
hold up to the people as
the nomination of benefices w&s
only % means of corruption; * morality should be substituted
for the luxury of toe opulent ecclesiastics.^^
Petion raised similar objections* though they might
have had more effect if his style had been more interesting;
according to puduesnoy* his style was *heavy* disagreeable*
monotonous** and unpleasant to listen to.^6
He railed against
the personal corruption of the Church* which he blamed direct­
ly on its great wealth.
*They wish to consecrate toe ec­
clesiastical possessions by toe purity of their origins* but
If in their origins they were pure* they are not what they
Here some murmurs arose* but applause stifled
»fes* a great part of toe property was obtained by
pious frauds on a superstitious people.*
When he stated
that *it is toe wealth of the clergy that has corrupted their
morals** objections arose from the clerical group, and toe
president was asked to call toe speaker to order,
president (Freteau, who had taken the chair because of Camus1
in&lposition) replied that it was Impossible to rebuke a
man for saying what was printed everywhere; that very morning
he had read toe same ideas propounded by a high churchman.
«toatf you would betray us to epigrams?* an enraged cleric
Petion replied with dignity that observations on the
corruption of morals were not epigrammatic*^
fhe second count against tee clergy in proving teat
Church ownership was harmful* stated teat the clergy had
misused its authority. Ohapelier warned the Assembly that
If they declared the clergy toe owner* they *would reestablish
a powerful order to whom its possessions give a hundred occaslons for reviving the ancient injustices.*
Dupont ac­
cused the Church of giving *toe appearance of a republic
within an empire; It did not make good use of Its authority.*
fhl© he said was not the fault of tee individuals who com­
posed toe body; *it is the spirit of the body that is opposed
to the public spirit.*
poule added a blast to those already given against
tee Church's misuse of authority.
Its ministers had abused
the Gospel by subjugating people and rulers beneath the yoke
of their temporal and spiritual power.
Since the usurpation
of fepin, tee leaders ©f tee Church had assumed a veil of
servi tude, and under its protection had been *the proudest
of beings. ...pushing the fanaticism of their pride as far
a® to depose the crowned heads and to flog them at tee gates
of tee temple*
Mirabeau by a series of hypotheses led up to the
dangers that accompanied Church ownership, pointing out that
*certain societies placed, in a general society break its
unity and the equilibrium of its forces* and that *great
political bodies are dangerous In a State by reason of the
strength which results from their coalition and by virtue
of the resistance that is b o m of their Interests**
He im­
plied the vicious use that the Church could make of its
power when allowed to grow unchecked in the State*8*
A third harmful effect produced by Church ownership
was declared to be economic in nature*
Two such economic
injustices were described by Dupont. in the first place, the
State had been deprived of taxes from which the Church had
unfairly been exempted*
HIt constantly refused to contribute,
or escaped contributing, to the expenses of the State.
is only last year that It recognised Its obligation.
1000 the Church has paid only in contributio ns Inappropriate­
ly called dpnp gra%uj^.m (free gifts), as If the clergy were
the equal of the station its elfI As if it pays for the pro­
tection of the latter and then considers the payment a
gratuityf a favor!
If from that time the clergy had con­
tributed not at the same rate as the people but at the same
rate as the nobility, the public treasury would be richer
by 2,750,000,000 livres.w But not only had the Church de­
prived the nation of legitimate revenues; It had, on a second
count, unnecessarily burdened the present clergy with debts.
*As for Its members, the existence of the clergy in a cor­
poration form has not been favorable to them, for it has
never pal a back Its loans • The past clergy has engaged the
present clergy.
In continuing this regime the debts will
finally equal the holdings; then it would be necessary for
the nation for pay the expenses Of divine service.
The economic harm indicated by Poule was that re­
sulting from the inadequate use of lands In the possession
of the Church.
He described the inconveniences associated
with allowing huge tracts of land to come into the hands of
rtthese great sterile families, which sustain themselves only
to the detriment of the present generation, upon lands con­
demned by the Church to eternal stagnation.**^
Mirabeau like Dupont was exasperated with the eco­
nomic harm wrought by the clergy in the as simulation of their
**The clergy, for more than a century, has overbur­
dened the Church treasury with an immense debt, by borrow­
ing instead of assessing, by paying only the interest of its
annual contribution; instead of paying that contribution
out of its income it paid it out of that of other citizens.
& fourth objection in terms of the harmful effects
of Church ownership was that favoritism was shown to the
rich, to those who needed it least.
Carat the Younger spoke
disparagingly of the chapters open only to the nobility;
**if they were net destroyed, they would become the refuge of
the ancient aristocracy and the home of the new.**
The im­
plication was that the Church was thus fostering class dis­
tinctions and prejudices which were the enemy of the Rewolutionaiy' movement.®s
Claes favoritism was Implicit is founders* prayers
and in the absolution of the rich, according to petion, aside from the fact that there was a time when a will was not
valid unless it contained a pious legacy.
«As for the founda­
tions, those that have for their object the individual and
personal advantage of the founders of the prayers made for
the® exclusively, injure charity, morality, and religion.
These priests should not and cannot be the ministers of the
Nation; they should pray for all ana not for one.
the rich can cover their sins with the prayers they have pur­
chased, while the poor, less culpable, cannot escape eter­
nal torment; thug the immortality of the saints will not be
the price of virtue but of riches.M
Only one speaker, the Abbe Gouttes, felt that the
appearance of certain Protestant sects was a harmful fact
resulting from Church ownership itself.
The Lutheranism
and Calvinism predominating in Sweden and in England were
directly caused by the wealth of the Church, so he believed;
no doubt he was implying that this wealth had produced abuses which in turn had driven people in disgust from the
parent Church.
The rulers of those countries had favored
Protestantism because it seemed easier to them to take over
the Church wealth after the Church itself had been disa­
This was certainly true of Henry VXXX of England,
who used the Church estates to strengthen his position by
giving them to his supporters.
In contrast to the gloomy pictures painted of the
harmful effects of Church ownership were the optimistic pre­
dictions of men like poule and Mirabeau, who foresaw de­
lightful conaequenoes of the alienation of ecclesiastical
petlon believed that “religion has fir© and un­
shakable foundations in the useful and industrious clergy.#
This did not include the monks or abbes or prelates, saw
for “those, who in an enlightened century have thrown off
the yoke of prejudice.“ The Assembly were now destroying
“that prejudice which raised to the episcopacy priests who
had no other merit than that of belonging to great families.#
Pledged to be the “servants of servants,“ they used their
offices only to crush persons of merit in the lower clergy.
This Shameful term was used up to the second of Kovembert
Then would follow “a famous epoch, when the clergy will be
what It ought to be, when religion will regain its rights;
when the village cure, if he is a man of merit, if he has
pure habits, will early make his fortune; when he will don
the purple of the Church of Home not to display his person
in an ostentatious carriage, but to make known the Church
whose support and pillar he is; and holding in his hand a
wooden cross, all the faithful will see in him a man of
gold.** Or one could visualise this revitalised figure in
another way?
“The anointed seigneur, worthy successor of
the apostles, clad again in his divine character of simpli­
city and humility, is and will always be greater in the eyes
of Christians than the majority of those prelates who for so
many centuries have scandalized the capital and the provinces
with their ostentation and their unchristian pomp**
Mirabeau also foresaw advantages that would come to
the clergy from confiscation, In comparison with the unfavor­
able conditions existing during the period of Church owner­
Salaried by the nation, the clergy would still be re­
spectable, toawlag revenues and no properties, released from
the ear© of its terrestlal affairs, but assured of an exist­
ence which is as decent as it must be to carry on its honor­
able functions.« Under present conditions, three-quarters
of the clergy were really paid by other members of the clergy,
and all the high positions belonged to the nobility.
In general, the proponents of the confiscation
measure claimed that many hamful effects had resulted from '
Church ownership In the past, and that these effects would
be offset by positive improvement© resulting from the aliena­
tion of the Church properties.
As previously mentioned, these proponents did not
bother to offer evidence refuting the clergy*s fourth
point, that the sale of toe lands would be difficult.
A few
comments were presented in opposition to the clergy1s pro­
test that toe people would not approve of confiscation.
this fifth point, however, they had little more to say than
had to© clergy, perhaps because they felt that the attitude
of to© people was obvious enough. Ohapelier maintained that
the only reason why toe people had not raised their voices
la disapproval before was that they simply bad not dared to
do so* and if they had* It would have done no good in the
face of the powerful organisation of the Church.
*in the
national legislatures it would have been very surprising had
any citizen dared propose the maxim (of Church ownership);
but how would it have been received when deliberations were
carried on in separate orders* and the fatal veto was la full
force; when there existed two great corporations which had
usurped the right to place their individual interests
by side with those of the Nation and thus rose up against the
fhls was not then the time to declare the ownership
of the Nation; tee assemblies were neither permanent nor
periodic; it was assembled at uncertain periods at the will
of the King. * At that time It would have been unwise to
place at the disposal of the prince and of his ministers a
great mass of wealth which could have been alienated or di­
stributed among tee courtiers; he would then have forced
the people to pay a tax for religion.
But now tee situation
had changed; #te* national assemblies are permanent, and
taxes earn be created only by the representatives of the
Under such circumstances the people could express
their real wishes, one of which was the appropriation of
the Church wealth.®
Another indication of the favorable attitude of
the people came from M. Rennet, who decried the effrontery
of the prelates in claiming teat violent demonstrations
against confiscation had occurred in the Belgian provinces.
Am a deputy from these provinces, Hennet declared that the
claims were not true, and that his sahier instructed him to
ask for the sal® of the CSiurch lands in B&lnaut.®9
Poule, in commenting on this episode, spoke of the
«observations made regarding the Belgian provinces, in­
doctrinated by ecclesiastical prejudices,H which were alleged
to be ^entirely determi ned to consecrate the unreasonable
principle that the clergy should be an owner**
He commended
the courage of the honorable ©ember who dared to contradict
this statement with the evidence furnished by his own cahier.90
Mlrabeau by a store devious route approached the
assertion that the people would approve of the confiscation
He pointed out that in neighboring countries the
ministers of worship received no less respect of confidence
because their lands had been taken awayj the people gave them
just as much homage as before.
From this he Inferred that
the same result would be Observed in France; the people would
if anything accord them even greater respect because of
the clergy1s sacrifice to national need.
Bate people*s ar­
dent desire for confiscation was not a vengeful wish to de­
spoil and degrade the clergy, but a sincere belief that
ownership was not mi essential function of the Church organ­
The clergy had argued as their sixth count against
confiscation teat previous seizures or confiscations did not
give the Assembly any excuse for their present designs against
the Church wealth*
But the advocates of the present measure
were just as positive in asserting that previous acts of con­
fiscation did furnish a precedent for the immediate situa­
tion, even though this precedent was not relied on as the
major reason for their more.
One objection of the clergy had been that previous
attempts at confiscation had been associated with the names
of infamous men, who had in some Instances, received de­
grading punishment,
fo this Chapelier replied, «Is it not
the fate of the holiest maxims to be proclaimed by lips un­
worthy of them?
One minister, you say, was exiled for a
similar proposition; that simply attests for me the favor
that the cler^r had in the court, and it proves neither the
clergy*® morality nor its ownership.#
The fiery orator and journalist, Barer©, one of the
prim© movers in the attempt to force confiscation, wrote
in hie memoirs at this time that the Church property had
been confiscated, and then quoted Montesquieu from tee Spirit
of the y&w&i
#fhree times the clergy had succeeded in ac­
quiring riches and immense property, and three times they
have been deprived of them; yet the clergy go on acquiring.**
fhe wisdom of previous confiscations was pointed
t© by Oouttes, and he noted that even certain leaders within
the Church itself approved of the acts;
nEveryone knows
that...the Ration has the ri^it to suppress the benefices...
in order to use the revenues 1m the manner most useful to
It la thus that things have been managed ever since
the first centuries of the Church; and when ©ertain members
of the clergy complained of the reforms of the emperors In
this respect, St. Jerome replied to them?
*i do not blame the
emperors at all for having passed such laws; they are wise;
the emperors were obliged to do it; but what grieves me is to
see that the clergy has forced the emperors to pass the laws*#
Bsrnawe called attention to the additional fact
that in the earlier sale of the Church lands in time of
national calamity^ it had been effected by the simple act of
registering a decree, without any action by a National As­
sembly • And why would not the Nation and the National As­
sembly b© able to do what the King had done?
perhaps he
meant to ©onvine© the clergy that the mere discussion of the
duealien was a great concession.9^
The principle of ©onfi scatlon, asserted Treilhard,
was recognised in neighboring countries, and It was already
consecrated in France, for *was It not in fact the public
power that has forced the clergy several times in the past
to sell its landed wealth?
The Church had in fact possessed no landed wealth
up to the fourth century, declaimed Gbasset.
confiscations of their accumulations, he implied, were Justi­
fied because wealth had not been essential to the Church in
its primitive form.9*^
Borne references were made to the suppression of
the Jesuits and toe absorption of their property as an example
of precedent-forming eonfiscationv
There had been no ques­
tion about what to d© with their property, and since the
oases were parallel, there should be no question in this case,
according to Dupont de Nemours.
CJarat the lounger also used the Jesuit example as
evidence of a confiscation precedent, adding that in that In­
stance there had been n© protest from the clergy, and no
legal proceedings.
As one of a list of facte he proposed
to Justify confiscation, he cited the fact that *under all
the dynasties of the kings the Nation, In times of need, had
always turned to the lands of the clergy.1*^
Mir&beau referred to the concept of confiscation as
#a great thought* which Hsaved the human race from a great
calamity* In past or!see.
The final contention of the clergy, that substi­
tute measures were* possible, was waved aside with very little
argument by the advocates of confiscation,
k few scoffing
rejoinders were made to the suggestion that the Church could
its excess wealth to the Nation while retaining title
to the lands.
Shapelier found such an offer by the clergy to the
Assembly very pre sumptuous.
HIt offers you sacrifice a, but
by what, strange reversal of ideas and principles?
Would it
be up to the clergy to maintain, to protect the nation?
it not on the contrary up to th© Nation to nourish and defend
all the establishments that are useful to It?
How could It
give if it were only the administrator of two-thirds and
usufruetor of the other third?
How could it give when It
cannot be a body separate from the Nation?*
At this point
the Point dp Jour made the ©omment that *M. Ghapeller is
without doubt one of those who has seen all the profundity of
the question under discussion, and the influence that It would
have on the welfare of the State.
Even the Abbe Dillon felt that it was beside the
point to speak in terns of the generosity of the clergy, as
it chose to label it© motives in proposing a gift of wealth
as an alternative to confi ©cation. He believed that the
lands belonged to the Nation, «bul even if it would be mathe­
matically demonstrated that we (tee clergy} have the owner­
ship of the lands....! ©ay It would not be our generosity
but nur duty to abandon them to the Nation at the moment
when every oitigen is making the greatest efforts to keep
the edifice whose foundation© have been ruined by despotism
and its agent© from tumbling down,
Another clerical defender of the confiscation mea­
sure believed that the clergy did not have the right to give
toe lands to the Nation.
*1 believe that the Nation has a
right to take, to meet Its pressing needs, all that Is not
necessary for divine worship, for the maintenance of the
ministers, and for the support of the poor, for which the
goods were specially intended; but if it follows from that
that we, as members of the clergy, ought to offer and give
these goods, I do not believe that we have the right, but
that, acaording to the example of Saint Ambrose, we ought
to say that we do not give them but that we allow them to be
It is imperative to remember that the preceding
arguments were all delivered in the face of the increasingly
onerous financial situation.
This circumstance alone would
probably have been sufficient to force the confiscation of
Church property even though the Intellectual climate of the
period had been opposed to the philosophy of utility as the
final arbiter.
The ill repute of the clergy, great as it
was, apparently would not have led to this action except for
the imminence of bankruptcy.
Had the financial situation
been less acute, it seems likely that the Assembly would
have turned Its attention to the reform of the clergy and
to the securing of a more equitable distribution of its In­
come among Its members, but would have left the greater part
of the property in Its possession.
La Monltsur mxvereel. 2 novembre, p. 352.
jaagQUdgpe de Paris. Ho. 72, 3 novembre, p. 388.
gftMCTfrl £&. l£ 3£yj=S.
&g£ JTovinoea. 3 novembre, p. 1SS.
i£ Legogr&ahe. T. 5, 3 novembre, pp. 310-334.
Versailles a& Paris. 39 oetobre-7 novembre,
pp. 160-167.
la Moniteur Hnlversel. Ho. 77, 33-36 oetobre, p. 314.
Point, Qn Jour. T. 3, 25 octobre, p. 435.
La Logogranbe. T. 5, 34 octobre, p. 187.
ap.UKl.aX M Provenoa. T. 3, Ho. S7, 33-24 octobre, pp. 3-16,
Courier de B e a m a M , T. 3, Ho. 60, 30 octobre, 2 novembre,
pp. 1-24 *
La. Monifaiur BBlversel. 30 octobre, pp. 323-334.
La Logogranhe. T. 5, 8 novembre, pp. 310-324.
.fflaKfiBAW. M Pftgle. No. 72, 3 novembre, p. 288.
Le Point dp Jour. T. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 23-32.
23 ©otobr©, pp. 165-176.
!*§, ^ © 4 ^
Jaur. T, 3, 24 octobre, pp. 426-432.
ia a i l s &&
jy&ayafi&g. s7 ootobre, p. 105.
f* 3, No. 57, 23-24 octobre,
pp• 3—316•
toKBSl M sasla# T- 2 , 24 octobre, p. 1365.
ghronlque de parla. 24 ootobra, pp. 247-248.
Le. Moniteur Universal. No. 77, 22-36 ootobre, pp. 3147. 5, 31 octobre, pp. 261-284.
7. 6, 31 octobre, pp. 283-204.
Courier de Provenee. T. 3, No. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre,
p. 16.
ismml, M& £&£ia» SI oetobre, pp. 1403-1406.
.dp Earls. Ho. 09, 31 octobre, p. 276.
MtmKf.Pl, SI ootobre, p. 324
RpvolutiQng de yarelllee et Farigf No. IS, 8-14 novembre,
p. 30.
Qourleff da Provenee. T. 3, Ho. 57, 33-34 octobre, pp.3-16
Qbronioue de Paris. 24 octobre, No. 57, pp. 247-348.
Z m x m l J & Pudueano.Y. 23 ootobre, p. 470.
JgffiTOl M . DuquaanQ-V. T. 1, 30 ootobre, p. 7.
Chronlque de E&rie. Ko. 69, 31 oetobre, p. 276.
iXBPEPal §& 1* m t e
?rpV-.WS.&, 15 ootobre, p. 59.
LS- Esint. Sa Jour. T. 3, 17 ootobre, pp. 347-363.
M LQgoaraphe.
7- S, 93 oetobre, pp. 163-176.
5SB$» T. 3, 24 oetobre, pp. 426-432.
Journal de Buetueaaor. 23 oetobre, p. 470.
p . 8.
7. 6, 23 oetobre, pp. 1§3-176. ,
S k s m M (asesa.a la Resolution.
Point 4p Jear.
Jour. 7. 3,
3 , 223
6 oetobre, pp. 430-432.
Moniteur tinlvereel.
Onlvereel. He.
He. 77, 22-26 oetobre, p.
p 314
fiflHgtar de Provence.Ho. 57, 23-84 ootobre, p. 12.
Ferrleres, JffiasslESS, 7- 1, pp. 347-348.
Le Loirograpbe. 7. 6, pp. 271-272.
Courier M . Provence. 7. 3, Ho. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre
pp. 1-15.
JfoajajSiflL de Paris. 31 ootobre, pp. 1399-1401 *
1& Point 4ni
T. 4, 31 oetobre, pp. 6-?.
Jrouraal de 14 m i l e et dee, provinces- 31 oetobre, p. 135.
51 oetobre, pp. 323-324.
©The following facts are Interesting in helping to ex­
plain Mlrabeau♦s facility in handling the various Ques­
tions which appeared before the Assembly, Dumont re­
marks that it was commonly said that he wrote Mirabeau1s
speech delivered on October 30* He denies this, saying
that he had his own opinions on the Questions and that
he did not approve of the spoliation of the clergy. This
may or may not be true, since Dumont*s ^empires were
written after the reaction against French Revolutionary
and Napoleonic ideas had set in. The memoir writers of
this period were greatly concerned with making their
revolutionary stands appear to conform to the conserva­
tive Ideas that were prevalent at the time of the writing.
Dumont says that the person who wrote Mirabeau1a
speech on this Question was a Marseilles lawyer named
pelin who later complained that he had been inadequate­
ly paid for this and other works. #0me of the speeches
upon Church property written by Pelln reminds rae of a
m m m which X witnessed by change . The Abbe Maffcry had
refuted this speech very sue© ess fully. Mirabeau, unable
to follow the Abb© through his arguments, obtained leave
to speak the next day. When he returned home, pelln was
not there* He dispatched two or three successive mes­
sengers in search of him, but no Pelln arrived. When
Pelln finally came in, Dumont heard the following con­
*Were you at the Assembly?1
* M © .*
•Dumont, amT«Hig»„£££ Jjjkgftfea&H Si 80S. 18M. dS2*£
PP- 47-48.
♦Whet, you were not there? Is this the way you be­
have toward me? See Wh&t an awkward situation you place
me in. Maury spoke for an hour... .and what reply can
you make to a speech you have not heard? You would pre­
fer writing one against me, X know very well; but I tell
you that by tomorrow morning X must have a complete refu­
tation of Usury's speech. You will find some extracts
from it in the evening papers.'
#pelin proposed an adjournment of the question.
Mirabeau seised him by the throat and pinned him against
the wall, enjoining him to do what he ordered without
delay, and to look well to his conduct.11
Pelln withdrew at 7:00 y.M. 7:00 A.M. Dumont
received a manuscript from Mirabeau to check over. Dumont
edited it, and said it was very good, the question was
adjourned, and the speech was not used except In the
Ssm&m M smsmm-
72, 3 novembre, p
M is. S U i S b S t das Provincea. S novembre, p 135.
1& 2StXS& M. ££&£* ?• 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 25-32
l£ JffiMMftSE Uni verge 1. 2 novembre, p. 332.
fre Logographe> T. 5, 2 novembre, pp. 310-524.
Rpvplutlons jig, Versailles at yards. 29 octobre-7 novembre,
pp. 160-167.
2& JiiilS Sl SSS Province a. 3 novembre, p. 135.
20. M
Polmt fla Jomr- T- 3, 17 oetobre, pp. 347-363.
f ttonltear fflaiversel. Ho. 73, 12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-301.
is logpgraphe- ?. S, 13 ootobre, pp. 4-22.
Journal £& la ViXle §& <$$$.. Provinces. 15 octobre, p.
ieassai ss jeacis, *. s, i s oetobre, p. 1319.
21 • M
T-QgQgraohe. ?. 5, 23 ootobre, pp. 163-176.
.ISSiMaS: IMS&CSSl. Ho. 77, 23-26 ootobre, pp. 3146*
M M 7111*^ §&
Provinces. 15 octobre, p. 59,
yolnt du Jqur. f. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-19
Le jjOgoaraohe. f * 5, 95 octobre, pp. 163-176.
gonriar de Provence. Ho. 57, 83-24 ootobre, pp. 3-16.
M ttMAftSBT Univereel. 22-26 ootobre, pp. 314-316.
be Logographs. 7. 5, 83 oetobre, pp. 163-176.
22—26 oetobre, pp. 314—316.
M m m & m P Z , 23 ootobre, p. 470
OSBO&im M Z m X K t m . T. 3, HO. 57, 23-24 ootobre, pp. 316.
Le Point da Jour. ?. 3, 25 oetobre, pp. 435-440.
Le Logpgranhe. y. 5, 24 ootobre, pp. 185-194.
imsml M E m i l i e s et parls. 25 ootobre, p. 100.
Le ££iat
jlour, f. 3 , 2§ ootobre, p. 440/
LE L£m££&£k&, T. 3, 24 octobre, p. 194.
Le $onltepr tfnlversel. 22-28 ootobre, p. 314*
Courier do Provence. f. 3, Ho. 67, 23-24 ootobre, p. 12.
LE LSgggmbfrE, 7. 5, 31 ootobre, pp. 286-305.
f. 1, pp. 347-340.
Courier de Provenoef f. 3, Ho. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre
pp. 1-16.
Journal de parla. 51 octobre, pp. 1309-1401*
Le. Point
Jour. 7. 4, 31 octobre, pp. 6-7
m a
et lies S^vtnoejs. 31 octobre, p. 125*
Le mni&wm MMmgmi* 31 oetobre, pp. 323-304.
Journal jg la VII le e£ ^es
3 novembre, p. 135.
La Monlteur tfalvers el. 2 novembre, p. 552.
B .t
lS4lL M
7. 4, 3-8 novembre, pp. 25-52.
* 7. 5, 2 novembre, pp.
, f. 3, 24 octobre, pp. 406-432.
, Ho. 77, 20-28 oetobre, pp. 314-316.
, 28 ootobre, pp. 218-219.
Point du Jour. T. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
£& IE M k E& M E E m l l S S S # X novembre.
pp . 127-128,
a$0imL M
ZStiLa* 7. 2, 18 octobre, p. 1320.
p- 22
. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299-301.
, 7. 8, 13 octobre, pp. 4-22
, 0 novembre, p. 352.
de Versailles et Paris, 29 ootobre-7 novembre,
pp. 100—167.
Le Lagpgranhe. 7. 5, 15 octobre, pp. 8-9.
ttel.era.1. No. 73, ig-13 ootobre, pp. 299-
Iq & m & x M
Ja Vllle et Jg, IS ootobre, p. 59.
Le Point du Jour, f. 3, 17 ootobre, pp. 347-363.
Le Monlteua? UnlTerael. Ho. 73, 12-13 ootobre, pp. 299-
, 13 octobre, p. 455.
et Paris, 14-20 octobre.
, 7. 5, 13 octobre, pp. 4-22.
JLfe Monlteur Pnlyerael. 3S-26 oetobre, pp. 314-316
Journal £& BuquasnoT. 23 oqtobr., p. 470.
JPJOT&a, ££ Yerealllea & Parle. 26 ootobre, p. 100.
M EsAai &1 Jaar. T. 3, 25 oetobre, p. 440.
1& Loaograpbe. T. 5, 24 ootobre, p. 124.
22-26 ootobre, pp. 314-316
du Jpur. T. 3, 23 ootobre, pp. 426-452
*.7. 3, Be. 67, 23-24 oetobre, p. 12.
gl, 22-26 ootobre, pp. 514-316.
part^. 3 novembre, p. 133.
* 2 novembre, p. 532.
14 Eotnt du Jenr. 7. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 25-32.
i^PJ£ra^he, 7. 3, 2 novembre, pp. 310-324.
40 •
Ferrtdres, Memoires. T. 1, pp. 547-348
fc* *• 3, pp,
Jl& Frovence. T. 3, Bo. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-16.
31 ootobre, pp. 1399-1401.
M Jt&BfU- 7. 4, 31 ootobre, pp. 6-7.
S U l d £& M
m m m s s , 61 oetobre, p. 126;
ootobre, p. 96.
SI ootobre, pp. 323-524.
I, 7. §, 31 ootobre, pp. 286-306.
TM1 vereel. 2 novembre. p. 532.
S t e t o M , &£. £&SU, HO. 72, 3 novembre, p. 288.
Le Logo&r&phe. 7. 5,2 novembre, pp. 310-524.
L& JE&1&I
44 »
7. 6, 23 oetobre, pp. 163-176.
, f. 3, 94 oetobre, pp. 426-432.
24 oetobre, p. 474.
Journal de Paris, 7. 2, 24 octobre, p. 1565.
Ckttirlep deProvence. 7* 3, Bo. 60, 30 oetobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-24.
7. 6, 23 oetobre, pp. 163-176.
, 13 octobre, p. 433.
1 Bo. 73, 12—13 octobre, p. 300.
___* Ho. 16, 24-31 ootobre, pp. 38-39.
12-13 oetobre, p. 17.
, T. 3, 17 oetobre, pp. 347-363.
, 7. 3, 13 octobre, pp. 4-22.
, 7. 2, 15 oetobre, p. 1319.
, f. 6, 13 oetobre, pp. 4-22.
. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299-301.
, T. 3, 17 ootobre, pp. 347-363.
M J M S i i l i *■ S. 24 oetobre, pp. 103-176.
Oour^er de groveneftP T- 3, Ho. 57, 23-24 ootobre, pp. 3-16.
1*£ Moniteur Universe!. 22-26 oetobre, pp. 314-316.
$8. la. Itlla si M s . Province.. 24 ootobre, p, 96 .
1 & Point Sa Jonr. T. 3, 24 ootobre, p. 427.
Journal d& P&rla. 24 octobre, p. 1368.
£&& Revolution.
Parle. So. 17, 31 oetobre-? novembre,
p . 40 •
i&mml M
Universal. Mo. 77, 22-26 ootobre, pp. 314316.
s m m m M i
, f. 3, Mo. 67, 23-24 ootobre, pp. 3-16
7. 3, 20 octobre, pp. 435-440.
He. 77, 22-20 ootobre, pp. 314-
,, 7. 3, Ho. 07, 23-24 ootobre, pp. 3-
fterrleres, Memoirep. f. 1, pp. 347-348.
7. 5, pp. 271-272.
Oonrier de Proyence. T. 3, Ho. 60, 29 octobre-2 novembre,
!«, 1—15 .
M JESSlS,# 31 ootobre, pp. 1399-1401.
L, T. 4, 31 oetobre, pp
& m u s
£$& i m M l t
ootobre, p. 125.
31 ootobre, pp. 323-324.
et Peri,,ftf 29 oetobre-? novembre,
04 •
four, f. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
l a lUJLfe
M & gmSAMSm.* I novembre, pp. 127, f. 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
#,.7. 3, Ho. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-10
31 oetobre, p. 1403.
, 7. fij 31 oetobre, pp. 286-300.
Eolnt du Jour, f. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 25-32
f. 0, 23 oetobre, pp. 163-176.
?, f . 3, 24 oetobre, pp. 426-432
, f. 3, Mo. 57, 23-24 oetobre, pp. 3. 77, 22-26 octobre, pp. 314-
?. 3, 17 oetobre, pp. 347-363.
€0 .
p. 8.
i d 4 ^ n a t l q R £§& ffimi M
a la Revolution-
1 & Maaltouy IMivaraeX, No. 77, 22-26 octobre* pp. 314316.
ootobre, p. 100,
aaarafflX fl» a* vine et
| £ E£iE&. 4a Jour. ?. 3, 88 oetobre, p.
l £ LogQgrSDhe. T. 5, S4 ootobre, p. 19
, T. 3, Ho. 60, SO ©etobre-2 novembre,
£E d&
pp. 1-24.
X& Monltenr
30 oetobre, pp. 323.324.
i& EStiSk te. 3ms.* 7- 3, If ootobre, pp. 350-361.
i& Loaographe. ?. 5, 15 oetobre, p. 14.
M Monlteur Onivereel. 12-13 oetobre, pp. 299-301.
&k ESSifi, T* 3, 19-29 oetobre,
oetobre,pp. 163-176.
SsmiSkK 42. Provence. 7. 3, Ho. 57, 23-24 ootobre, ppi316.
«*• 3msaal 4s. la m ia &k tea
la. tenXkw. m xvxa u , ho.
24 ootobre, p. 96
22-26 ootobre, p. 314.
M Etete 4a 3PMZU 7• s, 24 oetobre, p. 427.
M E&H&, 24 oetobre, p. 1368.
Courier 6e grovenoe. $. 3, He. 67, 23-24 ootobre, p.
J&& agasxmima. t e E2ZL&, HO. 17, 31 oetobre-7 novembre,
M Point
Jour. T. 3, 23 oetobre, pp. 420-432.
Ib Monlteur Unlverael. Ho. 77, 22-26 ootobre, p. 314,
3, No. 00* 20 ootobre-2 novembre*
No. 17, 31 octobre-7 novembre,
p. 40.
7. 5, 23 octobre, pp. 103-176.
7. 3, 17 octobre, p. 360.
3e Provence. 12-13 ootobre, p. 17.
i & £@lBl ia i m z * %• ®* 24 ootobre, pp. 426-432.
i£ Paint da Jour. 7. 3, 17 ootobre, p.
i&aaur, j3&Provence. 12-13 ootobre, p. 17.
5, 23 ootobre, pp. 163-176.
, T.
6, 31 ootobre, pp. 286-305.
£aial £& teas. ?• 4, 1 novembre, pp. 13-18.
73 •
Versailles &$, Pena, 39 oetobre-7 novembre,
pp. 160-167.
Courier Ja Provence. Ho. 53, 13-13 ootobre, pp. 7-19.
.Le Moniteur Univerge!. Ho. 73, 12-13 ootobre, pp. 399301.
Courier £g. grovenoe. 7. 3, Ho. 60, 29 ootobre-2 novembre,
pp. 1-15.
1& gQint du Jour, f. 4, 31 oetobre, pp. 6-7.
Journal <|g, Pftpls. 31 ootobre, p. 1415.
Le itaniteur tfnlverael. 31 ootobre, p. 330.
Le ioaographe. 7. 5, 3 novembre, pp. 310-334.
let. Point 5u .Toup. 7. 3, 35 ootobre, pp. 430-433.
Le Monlteur Bnlverael. 3 novembre, p. 333.
Is. Moniteur Onivereel. 30 oetobre, pp. 333-334.
La Point au Jour. T. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 95-33.
1& Logpgraobe. f. 5, novembre, pp. 310-334.
Is Point au Jour. 7. 4, 31 ootobre, pp. 6-7.
Le Loeogranhe. 7. 5, 34 ootobre, pp. 185-194.
Journal de Barl.a. 31 ootobre, p. 1418.
m i m m m b ® , 7. 5, 15 octobre, pp. 4-02.
La Monl-tauff 'IMlvar&el... Ho. 73, 12-13 octobre, pp. 299301......
s m m % x m m m m m m * ^ ootobre, p. 430.
Le ffeiot
Qef Revoftrtlcms a#
Ho. 1 8 , 8 -1 4 novembre, p . 3 8 .
-flM ttM ft. M M 33&%&.
3 novembre, p . 135.
M S m k M * ® ao^embre, p. 1423.
£& Logpffiffiphef 7. 5, 2 novembre, pp. 310-334.
Courier de
pp. 1-24.
Puque.snov- T. 1, 30 oetobre, p. 7.
Provence. 7. 3, Ho. @7, 33-24 ootobre, pp. 3-
B&lftfc Au
^ourr f . 4, 3-3 novembre, pp. 25-32.
7. 3, Ho. 60, 30 ootobre-2 novembre,
7. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 25-32.
Barere, Memolres. pp. 235-237.
Le rolnt du ^Tour. T* 3* 17 oeto&re, p. 556.
jE m m il S t la m ia M Sat E m la t tt t xa octobre, p. 35.
.foe, Monlteur TTnivers el. Ho- 73, 12-13 octobre* pp. 299«nt .
Le Logograr-he■ T. 5, 13 ootobre, pp. 4-88.
Journal da Paris. 7. 8, IS octobre, p. 1319.
Le Point du Jour. T. 3, 1? octobre, pp. 350-351.
Le Logoarraphe. T- 5, 83 octobre, pp. 163-176.
Journal de paria. T. 3, 24 oetobre, p. 1385.
£& Locrographs, T. 5, 23 ootobre, pp. 163-176.
Courier Jg. Prove no e . 7. 3, So. 57, 23-34 ootobre, pp. 313.
Is. EaiBl
Jjgae, 7. 3, 26 ootobre, pp. 438-440.
Le Logogranhe. 7. 6, 84 ootobre, pp. 185-194.
Le Monltour Universe!. Ko. 77, 22-26 ootobre, pp. 314316.
Le Monlteur Uni vers el. So. 77, 22-28 ootobre, pp. 314316.
Courier de Provence. 7. 3, No. 57, 23-84 oetobre, pp. 316.
Le Logogranha. T. 5, 24 ootobre, pp. 185-194.
l a a r o l M Is. XUlfe sk M
EKP.XHmft* 28 ootobre, p. 100.
Le Point du Jour. 7. 3, 25 ootobre, p. 440.
Le Point du Jour. 7. 4, 31 ootobre,pp. 6-7.
|ff Point
ass involutions de Parla, SO. 16, 24-31 oetobre, pp. 30397
da Jour. T. 4, 3-5 novembre, pp. 25-38.
Point du Jour, f. 3, 17 oetobre, pp. 347-363.
OB&pram ¥
The purpose of this chapter Is simply to show how
the newspapers and pamphlets of the time developed public
opinion In favor of the confiscation of Church property, as
the debates on that question were being held in the national
The newspapers carried very full accounts of the
debates and occasionally reported a speech in full.
tion of the summaries of these speeches shows that with only
a few exceptions the newspapers gave evidence of a decided
partiality In that they devoted a great deal more space to
the speeches of those who favored confiscation than they did
to the speeches of those who opposed it.
It Is not pretended
that they were entirely responsible for the formation df
public opinion on this question; however, it does seem evi­
dent that the newspapers kept pace with public opinion and
probably hastened its crystallisation.
The preceding chapters have related the speeches
as they were delivered in the Assembly.
These speeches
were of great importance in molding the public attitudes, and
they must be kept constantly in mind a® the narrative of the
action outside the Assembly unfolds.
This action is recorded
in the numerous pamphlets that were concerned with every
phase of the Ohureh question, the anecdotes published in the
newspapers, the incidents in which the clergymen were open­
ly insulted, the increasing menace of bankruptcy, and finally
the reactions to the news that the Assembly had passed the
Before taking up the consideration of the pamphlets
referred to in this chapter it should be remembered that the
accounts of them appeared after Talleyrand's speech had been
The unfavorable attitude toward the motion of the
Bishop of Autun expressed in most of the papers has already
been recorded,
nevertheless, a fresh illustration typical
of those previously given is included:
#fhe motion of the
Bishop of Autun (on the ecclesiastical wealth) has made an
almost universally agreeable impression.
Since his learned
discourse demands careful study, we are suspending judg­
ment on the matter or rather we are awaiting yours.*1
Smsml M
1& M 3 M
commended Talley-
rand*s proposal, saying that it was quite obvious that if
the Nation would salary the ministers and assume responsi­
bility for the care of the poor, it could do as it liked with
ecclesiastical property.^
Le Point 4p ^our prefaced the discussion of the
current assembly debates on Church property by recalling a
Roman myth.
According to this myth, a horrible gulf had
opened in the middle of the public square and when the people
felt a victim was needed to appease the wrath of the gods,
Curtins leaped in for the love of his country.
The editor
spoke of toe deficit as the gulf that threatened to devour
the french nation, and suggested that the clerical wealth
should be the Curtius to perform toe sacrifice at this time*5
An effort to discredit Talleyrand as well as M s
plan was apparently toe object of a pamphlet distributed about
this time which claimed that toe Bishop of Autun was one of
a group of conspirators who were plotting to weaken patriotic
seal for toe 25# income tax by introducing this action to
appropriate the clerical wealth*
The editor of Pee Revolu­
tions £& ffiirifrf. in commenting on this pamphlet, was inclined
to discount toe motive assigned to toe Bishop*
He felt that
the mews was needed to prevent inflation with paper moneys
*ficts then, citisens* that this sublime motion was toe despair
of a H toe ministers too strongly desired a new issue
paper money and of that horde of financiers too speculate
on such money, and who in spite of their violation of sacred
contracts, pretend to be national in spiblt.
If toe deficit
is paid with clerical wealth, paper money will not be needed;
keep this thought in mind, should this unfortunate pamphlet
fall into your hands*
*1 do not say then that the author of the motion
on toe ecclesiastical wealth is or is not guilty; I merely
bay that if he la, it would still have been necessary to have
h&s motion presented by someone else*.
fttoat seems to prove* however, that he cannot be
placed among toe conspirators is toe fact that In order to
present toe motion for toe sale of ecclesiastical wealth, it
would be supposed that he would announce it as coming Just
before toe passage of toe patriotic 25# tax, while in reality
h© presented the resource of tee clerical wealth only as
applying to a period following January 1, 1790.#4
Through the medlusi of fictitious conversations and
Imaginary personages, pamphleteers often felt they could ven­
ture to state their own opinions with impunity,
on October
84 the Ofrrftffttftre £& ggjg&fl, published * pamphlet bearing the
title, *Thirty-Six Thousand Ways of Wiping out the Deficit,
of the fS&Xth of the Ohureh Restored to France.»
This was
written in the form of a dialogue between a french priest and
an English rootOr.
#The English pastor, having been a free
man much longer, is less timid than the French pastor, and
sees in the clergy *oxily an organ!nation ambitious from its
beginning, meddling with everything, confusing everything,
and causing the downfall of generals, kings, and emperors.1
One doubts that it is toe English pastor speaking.*
editor added toe comment that toe pamphlet itself had ap­
peared a long time before toe Bishop of Autun's motion.®
Brissoi de Warville, one of toe most noted public­
ists and reformers of toe time, was very enthusiastic about
toe assumption and sale of Church lands by toe State.
favored It as a financial measure, but even more hearily
approved of it as an opportunity to further the interests
of am association of which he was one of the promoters and
probably toe founder.
The association was to be called
flagAlfta figstiaate m 2*tek&,
to® avowed purpose of which was
to regenerate society by rural education.
The founders in­
tended to start with the purchase of enough property to
resettle twenty families and to expand from that beginning.
Saturally the opportunity to purchase the lands of the Churoh
would greatly facilitate such a plan,
fee plans were already
drawn up and ready to put Into operation by November 1.8j
thus it is fairly certain that the promoters of the organ!na­
tion were active in supporting the confiscation measure,
resettlement plan itself was much discussed, but was never
put into action.
Still another group showed itself in favor of the
sale of ecclesiastical lands for the benefit of the State,
fee ftoy&l Society of Agriculture addressed a meraoirf at the
very moment of the great debate of the ecclesiastical wealth*
to toe Rational Constituent Assembly* Insistently demanding
the sale of the communal* ecclesiastical* and State lands*
feis memoir was certainly not without influence in the As*.
fee case for Indemnification of those clerics de­
prived of their benefices* so frequently urged in the As­
sembly* was taken up by a pamphleteer whose brochure was reviewed In the
SsmmJL M M 2LU& £k M& £B22Uffia&-
can one mnrich posterity at toe expense of the living?* he
Many sons in Joining toe Church had seen their share
of the father*s estates go to their brothers* while others
had voluntarily relinquished their patrimony to relatives.
Els plea fee for toe protection of those persons whose sa­
crifices had been predicated on the maintenance of the
existing order.®
Two conciliatory subscribers of the Journal <Je
des Provinces came forth with identical plans, some
two weeks apart, which they hoped would satisfy both parties*
It was their suggestion that the holders of the benefices
be allowed to retain -them during their lifetimes, and that
at their death the lands b© taken over by the State*
proposed that the immediate needs of the State for money be
met by
tee issuance of paper money
tee provision that the
money would
based on this land, with
be retired as theStats
came into possession of the land and sold it-°
Other papers
quoted similar suggestions regarding the issuance of paper
Another proposal looking to the relief of the fi­
nancial situation was teat a boycott of British goods be or­
ganised for the purpose of preventing tee outward drain of
gold that went to pay for British commodities*^
A suggestion
fit, deff
was made in
teat the sale of
the Journal de Iff,Yille
the Church lands,after
the decree, be delegated to the provincial assemblies-
idea here was that the local authorities because of their
knowledge of land values in their own communities would be
able to get better prices than some central authority*
tee sale could be consummated, tee writer urged that paper
money guaranteed by tee lands be circulated to meet the
Matlon*s immediate needs*
Another suggested cure-all for the financial ills
of the nation Involved tee levying of a head tax teat would
replace all other taxes.
According to this plan, the members
of all three orders would be divided into
groups determined
by the amount of their wealth, and the tax would be levied
in proportion to this wealth.^
Hhile the question of the ownership of the Church
lands and the financial problems associated with It occupied
the main theatre of action and engaged the attention of the
most redoubtable champions of both sides, minor skirmishes
were in progress that probably had some effect on the final
outcome of the paramount issue*
Oh© taking over of the Church
plate was the subjects of much post-mortem discussion, with
some of the ecclesiastical defenders attempting to gain for
their order the prestige attaching to a benevolent giver,
and other© predicting that dire consequences would follow
this attack on the ^property of the poor.*
In the session of October 15 high Church digni­
taries promised cooperation In the collection of the plate
and treasure in excess of the actually needed for service,
which was to be given to the nation in accordance with the
law passed September 28.
They also advised that It should be
malted down to facilitate Its handling by the treasury.
The general reaction to the decree of September
was favorable, though some clerical proponents still inon referring to the action as though it had been a
of Church ornaments to the nation.
4© Paris said that this
^donation* would be *in present circumstances a great help.*1
To give some idea of the immensity of this resource he cited
the following anecdote:
"After Madame Louise de France, re­
tired to the Carmelites of Saint-Denis, had had the church
rebuilt, she wished also to renew the ornaments; she charged
me to sell the old ones for whatever they would bring*
the great astonishment of this pious princess, I remitted to
her 11,200 XIw e a for the old ornaments which were in the
wastry of this poor eon Tent*
But when one easts his eyes
upon our cathedrals * our collegial buildings, our abbeys,
©ur farieh-churches* ah, sir, what possible millions might the
State procure!
manufacture and commerce would be stimulated. *
But he thought that it would be only just to pay the churches
one-fourth the value of the geld and silver objects in order
to enable them to procure new ornaments.3'® It will be remem­
bered, though* that the churches had been permitted to ietain
those vessels and ornaments necessary to the performance of
services; so there wag no need to rebate any part of the funds.
From Amiens had come the story of objections raised
by several priests to the conversion of excess Church plate
into money; they insisted that such an action would cause
francs to become Protestant.
Another of the objectors point­
ed out teat many of the Church treasures had been © onnected
with miracles, and had memories sacred to the faithful.
proclaimed that the manufacturers would be the only ones to
provit, and that everyone else would lose.3*® A commentator
on tee first story dericed these fears, pointing out that
these objections had not occurred to them the year before
when they had concerted Into Ingots a silver chalice which
served as a depository for the holy ashes of St. Martin.^
Another suggestion that toe church hells, valued
at SOG,OOQ,GGO livres by the writer, be melted down and sold
to aid toe treasury, was received by toe Journal de Jft Ville
Provinces, The writer Insisted that the reduction of
toe surplus bells to metal would also decrease the noise.^
Still another patriotic citizen demanded speed in
toe collection of toe surplus plate, charging that some had
been found In a Jewish eafb to which it had been sold to
avoid sol sure by the government.^9
The poor grace with which some of the clerics ac­
cepted actions which they must have known could not be un­
done is illustrated by the behavior of to© Abb^ Rsnoude in de­
nouncing a gift to toe nation of 300,000 livres from the
Chapter of C&xabrai.
He declared that It had been approved
neither by toe archbishop nor by himself, and that some
parishoner must have forged his name to toe gift.
he asserted that he could not give away toe property of toe
fb© £ $ m m x M
S m M related two more instances of
priests too gave up part of their plate before it was called
for by toe national Assembly, and commended their patriotism.23These Indications that the diminution of the pageantry of the
church services did not disturb the French people made It
evident that there was little likelihood of their being
troubled by toe alienation of toe wealth of toe great oorpori
Other suggestions regarding the problems centering
around confiscation dealt with the matter of suppressing use­
less orders.
Although the Assembly had no desire t© eater On
a protracted discussion concerning the desirability of abolish­
ing the monasteries and convents, they were compelled to con­
sider one phase of the matter.
M. Bouse ©let read letters from
two Sisters asking that the Assembly take prompt notion to
prevent the ©lass of novitiates from taking their final vows,
since the abbess was about to receive them *in spite of all
the reasons of conscience.*
The writers, according to
Rousselet, requested that their identities be kept secret,
and explained that for obvious reasons they could not re­
veal the name of the house about which they were writing*
spite of the presentation of other letters in which the
writers begged that the National Assembly should take no ac­
tion that might prevent their taking their final vows, the
Assembly decreed a temporary suspension of the right to ac­
cept monastic vow® in houses of either sex.
This decree was
voted over the protests of several clerics such as the Bishop
of u£»ea, who declared that the Assembly was violating its
own rule of not taking action on any motion until after at
least three days had elapsed from the time of its presenta­
they also declared that this suspension was in real­
ity a preJudgment of the issue regarding the continued exis­
tence of the monasteries and convents.
The necessity of
taking action on the question of the ownership of Church
lands probably explained the limited debate preceding the
passage of the decree.
#Some prelates murmured at this de­
cree, hut toe coming sessions are bound to furnish them with
many other reasons for murmuring; and if they have raised
objections about this point, it is undoubtedly because they
foresee that the Assembly will not stop there.
The Bishop of Clermont demanded that the objections
of several monies to the decree of toe Assembly releasing them
from their religious vows he recorded in toe ProoAs-Verbal.
One of toe many pamphlets which discussed toe ques­
tion of suppressing monastic orders bore the title, & Plan
Jiha a g ite lm g PM m &i th is was fo llo w e d
by a project for the general administration of the wealth and
revenues of toe Church to augment those of the State.
author suggested* as had various others, that all the mem­
bers of toe orders should be given an honest pension to enable
them to live decently either with their families or by them­
The religious houses would serve as divers types
of patriotic establishments.
By the last part of October toe public feeling to­
ward toe confiscation of Church property had crystallised
into more definite principles as on© by one the arguments
of clerical proponents were refuted in toe newspaper accounts.
For example, on October 26 the pourlar de Provence disputed
the conclusions ©f an Abbe who had pointed to the bankruptcy
and ruin that would Inevitably follow the confiscation.
11Since credit is necessary to repair toe evils of credit,
the Abbe must agree that confidence does not attach itself to
doubtful means or imaginary resources; a definite mortgage on
solid and disposable property la needed*
it seems to me
that it is wise to continue adequate compensation of the
ministers, but when this compensation depends only on the
public revenue, the payment is no less certain*
There is no
profession where one is more certain of winning the esteem
of all classes of people by good conduct than that of an ec­
clesiastic; the gloomy pictures in which the Abbe displays
his eloquence are figments of the imagination.
Hewer would
the flock gather with more eagerness around a virtuous and
faithful shepherd than in the time of calamity.... The custom
of living by alms debases hearts and corrupts them.... In pro­
portion as the regime of liberty will* .•correct the deplorable
habits contracted under despotism, alms will become less
bet the clergy reflect on the spirit of the een-
tury....and unite Itself to the great family of citizens instead of considering itself a thing apart.#*5
A few days later the fiffla&jj;
its assertions that the Glergy should and would forget its
resentment toward the confiscation action, since it would
actually benefit from the move.
While the wealthy section
of the clergy considered the operation as a triumph carried
by strength over weakness or as a Ju&gmentobtained against
creditors by debtors who were placed 1n the position of
judges of their own case, the editor believed that before
long toe clergy would realise that *they have won more eiti26
sens than they have lost ecclesiastics.#
As the Assembly debates on confiscation progressed,
some ©f toe wVbx pop® sections of toe newspapers began to
take on toe flavor of logical argument rather than of sweep­
ing emotional generalisations which had previously charac­
terized the®.
For example, one of toe rebuttals against toe
pamphlet of toe Abbe Sleyes on toe ecclesiastical wealth
and the tithes, developed the Ingenious theory that toils it
might be true that toe lands were given to the Church, it
was equally true that toe Church was made up of its members;
these same members comprised toe body politic of France and
as such were represented by toe Assembly,
Therefore, toe As­
sembly a® the spokesman of toe members of toe Church could
legally change toe uses of the Church lands.
This pamphlet
was prefaced by an interesting tribute to Si eyes, quoted
fro® the Aeneid;
#Bis hand would have saved Troy if Troy
could have been saved.1*
The same newspaper, following toe example of toe
occasional truly democratic paper of today, gave space to the
objections of another reader too disagreed with the point of
View cited above.
This clerical sympathizer caustically ob­
served that there were other religious groups besides the
Catholics in France, and that the Ohuroh wealth could not
possibly belong to toe non-catholics.^®
With confiscation practically certain to occur,
Faint 4u ffqpf* could on October 31 discuss the question
from a broader, more philosophical point of view.
The editor
pointed to the vicissitudes of the French clergy, which went
through cycles of opulence end despoliation aa one line of
kings succeeded another.
For a long time the Church had pro­
tected Its wealth by insisting that its properties were
sacred, *but political writers agree that there is no tame
ownership saw© that of individuals, and these in the aggre­
gate form political society*...One must newer lose sight of
the fact that the properties of corporations are social
creations, fictitious properties, and not time properties
like those of Individuals| the properties of moral bodies
rest on political law, while the properties of individuals
rest m
civil law.#
The newspaper here has apparently ab­
sorbed the logical arguments of confiscation proponents,
which had slowly superseded the initial emotionalism with
which the Issue had been discussed.^
The prestige of the clergy continued to sink dur­
ing tee monte of October and examples of tee disrepute into
which the order had fallen may be multiplied many times.
The existence of tee clergy under Its old organization was
at variance with tee spirit of tee times.
Whether the
clergy was being weakened to make possible the expropriation
of Its estates, or whether its estates were being expro­
priated as a part of a campaign to destroy the clergy as an
order, it was impossible to determine.
It wag clearly evi­
dent that the two movements were proceeding apace and that
each contributed to the other*& success.
The newspapers,
diaries, and reports of the Assembly itself all contained
ample proof of tees© conditions.
"Doubtless these first movements will lead to a
very prompt extinction of the clergy unless some unforeseen
event stems the tide of public opinion.H
This prophesy was
published on October 13.^®
For example, toe Increasing disrespect for the
clergy was often manifested by the almost open contempt which
the Assembly showed for certain of its members.
An ecclesiastic
mounted the tribune to complain that the day before someone
had threatened to throw him into toe river; he wanted some
action taken on the matter.
Since this Abbe was interrupt­
ing an important discussion, someone cried, "Good heavens.
Monsieur Abbe, a man thrown into toe water lsn*t worth toe
hour teat you are making us lose.
Another indication of the low repute into which
religion had fallen among members of toe Assembly,' was given
by their reception of the demand of the Bishop of Glermont
that a certain pamphlet be censured.
The Bishop denounced
this book, entitled ffatechlsm &£ the Human
because of
its blasphemies against religion, and then cited the follow­
ing passages to prove his point;
What do you mean by religions?
1 mean what has been established by the strongest
and toe cleverest in order to govern by force in
toe name of an idol which they themselves have
What is the marriage bond?
it is toe proprietorship that im n has over woman.**
The author found this proprietorship as unjust as that over
land, and saw no other way of destroying both these injustices
save by the partition of land and the conBsmnisation of women.
In a bit of verse whieh closed the volume and which was called
BSteftfiA t g m Urn t e t e .
Vatican, the writer intro­
duced the clergy as madmen, and heaped ridicule upon them.
And this was the pamphlet, consideration of which
the Assembly of the wmost Christian Kingdom* dismissed as be­
ing of minor importance!^
Times had certainly changed since
the volumes of the Encyclopedia were burned by the public
Things had come to such a pass that one honest mem­
ber of the guard fs$t called upon to protestt
*xt is a good
tiling to tale the goods of the ecclesiastics In national
Assemblies, but it is nowhere permitted to insult them.
declare to you that if X had the honor of commanding a troop,
I would consider it ay duty to capture in my district every
individual guilty of such abuses, even at the risk of the
stones they could hurl at me.
I know well that there have
bees posted os blue paper some very fisc ordinances against
abuses; but if armed eitl aene do not attend to the execution
of these laws, it is as if they did not exist at all.*33
One of the clergy who signed himself *a poor
priest* essayed an appeal for consideration containing some
humorous touches perhaps in the hope that this might succeed
where the more straighfrorward pleas had failed.
He pointed
out that the contumely heaped upon the clergy affected the
whole group even though a great number of teem were as poor
as the people themselves and friendly to them.
He begged
that a distinction he mate between the poop clergy and "the
ari stoo ratio priests about whom there has been so such com­
According to him, toe threats of toe peasants and
workers were understandably frightening to a feeble and un­
armed man.
"Tell toe people that they must now be aware of
their own strength; that when one Is truly strong* one is
truly generous, that while a defenseless priest is not so
interesting a® a pretty woman, he is at least as worthy ©f
pity as an ugly one.
A little pleasantry in rhyme ©hided the French
people for toetr devotion to religion and litigation, both
of which, the author pointed out, were very expensive.
A less subtle pleasantry, and one that may have
been half serious, concerned a new suggestion for clerical
reform that would also save the State moneys
idea for reform which has occurred to me;
"One word, an
I Just camafrom
an abbey where I saw several /women eating in the community,
lodging in toe same corridor with the Abbot, and acting as
attendants in the dormitory of to© monks.
Would it not be
useful to substitute in the place of toes© women some nuns
of toe same order as toe gentlemen?
thus toe revenues of
the houses left vacant would assist to© State. *
The editor
added the comment that "We are not entirely of toe opinion
of our subscriber,
fo bring together thus toe celibates
of to© two sexes, would to be to tantalise toe®, to expose
them to the painful and ceaseless torment arising from a
temptation which, to my knowledge, only the good Robert
d^rbrisselles has withstood to his honor.
We recall the
joke of ear good Henry Ilf who, in passing before two con­
vents of the same order, but of different sexes, who were
separated only by a wall# said lau^iingly that the wolf was
very near the sheepfold.
We have* so we think, indicated
simpler and more natural means.H36
At the same time, the letters and pamphlets se­
lected for publication and review by tee editors of the various
newspapers showed a serious vein, sad a definite intention
to overlook no possible means of influencing the readers
to decide that confiscation was imperative.
An examination
of tee papers during the last two weeks of October Indicates
that the emphasis given to direct and indirect denunciations
of tee clergy was deliberately planned to secure a favorable
climate of opinion for confiscation,
tele campaign to obtain
Immediate action on the Question often took the form of a
recapitulation of past and present misdeeds of the clergy.
An anonymous letter published in the Observat^ur
on October 15 charged that since tee motion made by Talley­
rand, at least two church officials had suddenly become
quite generous with the poor of their parishes.
The writer
of tee letter professed to see in this a diabolical plot to
build public sentiment in favor of the Ohureh in this long
over-due action in tee hope teat It might forestall the re­
sumption by tee State of tee Ohureh lands.3*7
The ftb&ervatsar printed another anonymous letter
October 15, In which tee writer praised the Bishop of Autun1s
Ho declared It would provide tee creditors of tee
State with an inexhaustible guarantee.
The bitter and sedi­
tious oomplaints of the council of prelates and the great
beneficlers would be lost in the host of benedictions given
by tee great mass of the people to this useful and salutary
He continued by citing the example of a bishop who
had received his appointment through a court intrigue, and
who had been making regular yearly payments amounting to
500,000 llwres to his sister. Madam® de H........ , who was
responsible for his appointment.
This money, according to
the writer, was stolen from the poor of his diocese.
closed dramatically by saying teat "thanks are due to the
Bishop of Antun if through his motion he succeeds in cutting
off these horrible abuses at their roots."
added this terse commendation*
The editor
"I salute you, useful and
neee ssary writer.H
The author of a brochure which was published
October 18 in tee
a member of the
clergy; he revealed "more of the abuses which are already
well known.*
He protested against the ambition and greed of
the clergy, and quoted many examples taken from history to
prove his point.
"One sees it (the clergy) assign Itself
the right to make wills for those who die intestate, and to
force the heirs to abide by such wills; to refuse burial
to those who die intestate; to demand compensation not only
from adulterers but even from those who live with their
legal wives.
A Bishop of Amiens exercised these vexatious
right® with impunity.
OR March 19, 1409, came a definite
decree, at the request of the m®$$r and counsellors of Abbe­
ville, forbidding the Bishop of Amiens and the priests of
the same city from accepting or exacting money from newly
married men for permission to sleep with their wives the
first, second, and third nights of their marriages; each
man could now sleep with his wife without the permission of
the bishop and of his officers.8
This same article dis­
cussed in some detail the scandalous lives of the clergymen.
In order, apparently, to further the campaign
against the clergy, the
£§£&& published an ex­
tract from a book by M. Salart de Mo at-Joy e, Lea Principle a
de la Monarchic Frarygaiae> which until recently had been
This book was evidently a satirical denuncia­
tion of monarchy, and the section dealing with the clergy
left no doubt of the author*® opinion of that body*
chided ¥oltaire with being too lenient in his estimate of
the clerical income, and In very scathing language enumerated
its sources.
He stated that in 1655 the clergy had admitted
a revenue of 312,000,000 livres, not including plate and
other treasures.
Since that time France had extended its
boundaries, so that at present the kingdom contained 45,000
parishes, and therefore 45,000 cure?s; on this basis he esti­
mated the annual outlay, at the barest minimum, to be
45,000,000 livres.
The author was deducing from these figure®
that while the total expenditures had no doubt expanded, the
total income had increased proportionately.
8indeed, when
©n© thinks of the Immensity of toe revenues that the clergy
admits, of the immensity of the revenues which it has con­
cealed fro© the people, of the obvious and hidden fees which
it obstinately exacts on the basis of every need and every
emotion of the poor* when one thirds that there is no hospital
for the sick, hospital for the incurable, hospital of simple
retreat, establishment of education, of charity, with which
it does not meddle under toe pretext of religion, and where '
active avarice does not accompany it; when one thinks that it
neglects no traffic, from that of masses at all prices, and
that of church pews sold at a price in toe temples, even to
that of the dead disinterred,^ one realises that the most
correct estimate of toe revenues of toe elergy would raise
it to one-fourth or one-third of that of the entire king­
A power which the elergy had held since the is­
suance of an edict in 1693, of arbitrarily meting out punish­
ment, to its own members who were guilty of infractions of
the rules, was condemned by to© Abbe" Gregoire.
The Courier
de Pravepce to reinforce toe Abbe*s criticism quoted from
an anonymoua pamphlet*
*lt is necessary that the clergy
abolish these strange and shameful establishments which were
never known to toe Greeks or to the Romans or to the bar­
barians; X mean the convents which serve in Prance as houses
of correction.
These places of sorrow, where the monks, for
money, take charge of punishments for the State and for
families, are scattered in great numbers throughout the
They are so odious that they have sullied even the
names of the saints whom they have dared to name as their
In some, cages of iron— the cruel invention of
Louis XI— have been seen,
The majority have such Infamous
reputations because of their punishments that young men and
young women are more truly dishonored there than if they had
been incarcerated In public prisons,
Thus the monks and the
nuns are not ashamed to perform the functions of Jailer and
of police In order to acquire considerable revenue,
fs it
not very strange that persons consecrated to God, who preach
humanitarian!gm9 consolation, and the forgiveness of sins,
should make themselves the agents of cruelty, of Infamy,
and of vengeance in order t© socpiire wealth j. and that on
the other hand, the people have seen arise these establish­
ments more dishonorable and more cruel than the Bastille,
without recognising the contradiction that exists between
the doctrine and the conduct of those who established them?
It is for the State, not for the monks, to punish those
who offend the State.
The selfishness of the clergy was scored by
Buquesnoy in an entry he made in his Journal a week later;
•It is a fact worthy of note, and which cannot fail to
strike the philosophical observer, that the men who pretend
to be the most devoted to the Interests of the people are
those who busy themselves most of all with their own per­
sonal Interests, while in the last analysis all their
efforts are concentrated on the securing of places and of
money for themselves and for their friends.
“the people will before long recognize their true defenders,
as well as those who are primarily interested in self ad­
Duquesnoy also vouched for the truth of the follow­
ing conversation which he declared took place between Maury
and a certain gentleman:
the gentleman:
Well, M. Abbe, what do you say
to that?
Abbe: That if you take our estates, you
will have a civil war*
gentleman: That is sot possible*
Abbes Then you think we are fools?
gentleman: Wo, but X think you are as weak
as you are rascally, 44
the conoentratIon of the elergy upon its own per­
sonal Interests continued to be commented upon as the ques­
tion of confiscation was pushed more and more to the fore­
ground in the Assembly*
On octobre 30 Duquesnoy again noted
in his Journal that *It is remarkable that the only occasions
on which the clergy has shown any talent has been in those
instances where its own personal interest were involved.
It Is astonishing that since the ecclesiastics have often
said that an attack on their rights would be the first step
in a general attack on all ownership, no one has thought of
replying to them that in England, in Russia, in Switzerland,
in all Protestant countries, the question of ecclesiastical
ownership has been decided and no one has felt cause for
alarm.. ..The people in general feel very strongly about this
question of ecclesiastical wealth, and perhaps the wisest
course for the priests is to give in with good grace...*It
is difficult for me to believe teat it will not be decided
in a manner unfavorable to toe clergy, if, however, one can
say that it is unfavorable to be assimilated into all toe
olasees of ©ibXsems.*4®
The growth of disrespect for toe elergy was ac­
celerated by toe fanatical behavior of many of toe church­
The most notorious example of toe extremes to which
some of them were willing to go in order to retain their
privileges and prestige, was that of toe Bishop of Treguier.
He was charged with having fomented an uprising in lower
Brittany where M s diocese was located*
To begin with, toe King had written to toe arch­
bishops and bishops ashing their cooperation In bringing
about a state of peace la his troubled domains; he also or­
dered public prayers for this purpose.
one newspaper be­
lieved that this letter had been suggested to toe King by
the aristocrats of the higher clergy to pave the way for
their own incendiary propog&nda designed to provoke civil
Be that as it may, attention was ©entered on the
incendiary mandate issued by the Bishop of Treguier follow­
ing his receipt of toe letter from toe King; this mandate
was sent to all toe municipalities joined to toe Bishop1s
%% was very reactionary in tone and couched in
what eould hardly be ©ailed temperate language.
He urged
that toe ancient laws be conserved, that all nonsense about
religious toleration be aboil shed, and that it would be the
most tyrannous sort of action to rob the orders of their
He also declared that the ministers of the Church
were threatened with being reduced to the position of paid
The mandate ended with a stirring plea that the
French people awaken and *from the bottom of our hearts raise
a general cry to reestablish our ancient laws and the public
M* Alquler, member of the ©ommttte© on reports,
made a report to toe Assembly on the mandate of the Bishop of
Three perfidious aims were charged to this injunc­
(1) It attempted to arouse insurrections in the dio­
cese; (2) it calumniated to© transactions of toe Assembly;
and (3) it presented the dividing of the orders as necessary
to the welfare of to® State.
That toe prelate sought to stir
up the people was
evidenced in part by the further revelation that he had con­
spired with toe noblemen of his district to bring about the
desertion of young cltisens from toe national militia; these
young men, bribed with money and promises, pledged themselves
to obey the noblemen and to take them for their leaders.
national militia, which was at that time in its formative
stages, was a creation of toe Revolution, and was depended
on by toe Assembly to prevent any coercive measures by the
old loyal Army under to® direction of its reactionary generals,
naturally, then, the Assembly would regard with particular
disfavor any effort to undermine toe allegiance of the militia*
To foment rebellion among people devoted to their
King was no easy task, but to© Bishop, with masterful diplomacy,
proceeded to do that very thing by artfully making & dis­
tinction between the King and the national Assembly.
was a time when the love of the french for their King knew
no bounds; far from seeking to....limit the rights and pre­
rogatives of the crown* our fathers loved to multiply toe
testimonies of their zeal, of their obedience, of their devo­
tion to to© King.
Alas, my dear brother#, tow this french
monarchy has changed I
The princes of the royal blood fugi­
tives in strange lands; military discipline enervated; citi­
zen armed against citizen.... *
He went on to paint a gloomy
picture of conditions produced by toe weakening of royal
authority and toe strengthening of upstart individualists
with their «system of Independence and of insurrection pre­
sented with art, received with enthusiasm, sustained by vio­
lence.fl The implication, of course, was that true love of
King should manifest itself in the rebellion of the people
against these presumptuous brigands, with a return to Hour
ancient laws.... the guardians of our properties, of our per­
sons, of our glory.®
There followed a rose-colored picture
of the blissful conditions that existed under these ancient
Small wonder that the committee charged the Bishop
with calumniating the transactions of the Assembly!
Deputies fumed at being spoken of as "these perverse men
who, abusing the talents which nature gave them for a better
purpose, have by their libels spread among us the spirit of
Independence and anarchy.
are infernal....H
Their Ideas and plans of reformation
The return of the ancient laws, as advocated by
the Bishop, involved the abolition of freedom of speech and
of religious tolerance, which were a "deplorable abuse of
It also involved— and here entered toe third ob­
jection of the committee— the maintenance of the established
system of orders.
He devoted himself particularly to a de­
fense of toe clergy and its time-honored rights.
"Tell the
people...that they are being deceived when they are told that
the leaders of the clergy are men devouted with ambition, sold
to Intrigue, and given up to an excess of revolting luxuhy....
Tell them that even legitimate authority can demand respect
only as long as It: respects the laws received;
rob orders or individuals of their living and their property,
which they had always enjoyed under to© protection of to©
government, to infringe the contracts which have bound to the
crown the richest and most important provinces of the realm,
that Is a system of tyranny and of oppression which will
break all the bonds of the social compact.
Tell them they are
being deceived when...toe members of the first orders of
the monarchy are represented to them as hateful aristocrats,
plotters against toe people, only seeking to oppress the®
under the yoke of tyranny and despotism.11 How terrible
the new doctrine of equal rights which the "perverse men"
were disseminating!
"This system of absolute ©Quality that
people dare to promise to you, in rank and fortune, can only
have originated in the imagination of delirium.
It is as
contifeary to the wish of Sfature as to the principles of
reason and of religion.*1
At the conclusion of tine list of charges against
the Bishop, M. Alduier presented a plan for a decree,
the elergy did not defend the Bishop, and the only clergy­
man who spoke about the matter demanded that the Assembly
pro wide for the punishment of those who abused the freedom
of the press.
The Abb# of pra&i asked that before issuing
a decree, the Assembly send for the Bishop of Treguier, but
this request was disregarded.
In disposing of the matter,
the national Assembly decreed that the president write a
circular letter to all the municipalities of the diocese
of Treguier and inwit© them to union and to peace.
The let­
ter was also to warn them against those who sought to deceive
them concerning the patriotism of the Assembly.
The presi­
dent was to ask the King to give orders to the government
agents in the province of Brittany to be on the lookout for
^evil-minded men who wished to stir up trouble.1* lastly
the mandate of the Bishop and other information were to be
given over to the court charged with Judging crimes and
treason against the nation.4®
The case of the Bishop of Treguier was not an
Isolated instance of clerical disloyalty.
It was but an open
maaif©station of a widespread action of bishops that later had
to be driven underground, after the passage of toe Civil
Constitution of toe elergy signified toe triump of the re­
formers of the Church.
This Incitement to insurrection,
representative of the sort of appeal made by the emigre
bishops, was so successful that they were able to keep the
province of Vendee la a state of open rebellion until the days
of Napoleon.
Several newspapers commented on the fact that the
Bishop was Just one of many clergymen guilty of the same kind
of activity against the State.
The editor of Revolutions de
.gjj* Paris remarked that "this furious Breton was
not the only guilty one; toe
of the
Bishop of Met« have Just been published which, quite digni­
fied in all respects, give him the honors of the denunciation.
The author of this perfidious Homeric, being aware that his
diocesans, like all good frenchman, were full of love for
their Hug, tries to rouse them by making them believe that
this revered monarch is despoiled of his power,*
This man,
according to the editor, should be called the wCalumniator
of the Nation.*40
Similarly toe Qbservate^r stated that *no one can
ignore toe fact that a great number of bishops have circulated
libels in their dioceses under tee name of pastoral instruc­
tions that are intended to stir up the provinces and promote
a civil war.*
In vitriolic language toe editor denounced
such prelates who *after having uselessly tried to blow into
flame toe o d d ashes of fanaticism... .have burned to publish­
ing Incendiary libels under the title of mandates.
with distributing i© the people toe bread and toe word of
Cod, they have soaked it with the poison of calumny.1,60
Baches at Roux quoted another contemporary comment
to tee effect teat "after having organised a tribunal taken
from your own members, you will need to concern yourselves
with ail the plots and conspiracies against public interest
and national liberty*
On the one hand there are bishops
who Issue Incendiary mandates; on the other hand there are
provincial governors who allow grain to pass into foreign
It is necessary to arouse the committee of report
and that of research and make the® aware of all these facts.
Fearing for their own personal safety and believ­
ing that their cause was lost, many of the higher officials
of the clergy deserted France and Joined toe emigre nobles
in England and in Sera&ny.
All toe highly emotional oppo­
nents of the Revolution had not yet emigrated by toe latter
part of Octobre, for one hysterical Individual, in toe most
extravagant language, predicted war, famine, and pestilence
as toe only passible results of to© Revolution.
The anony­
mous author declared himself to be a member of toe Assembly,
and confessed that he was overwhelmed with remorse at having
betrayed his constituents and his order on toe celebrated
night of August fourth.
His panacea for the Nation*s Ills
was to respect feudal rights and ecclesiastical property,
and to trust to the generosity of toe nobles and the humanity
of toe priests*
Needless to say, this brochure provoked
indignant responses from its readers, one of whom, in
language as Intemperate as that used by toe original author,
insisted that toe pamphlet must have been written by a
priest or nobleman »who would certainly welcome civil war
and the proscription of toe entire popular party.1,62
widespread feeling of unrest was indicated by
Duquesnoy in an entry he made in his Journal Octobre 20s
BBut these ministerial intrigues are wicked Indeed when one
consider# the state of the kingdom, which seems to become
more frightening every day#
fhey say that the province of
Dauphine has resolved not to recognise any decree of the As­
sembly dated after Octobre 6.
Normandy and Brittany are
said t© be refusing to pay the 26# contribution; the spirit
of disquietude and of trouble seems to hav«g become more vlo-/
lent and more active than ever; they are beginning to speak
again of burning, of pillaging, as in the months of July and
August| a- general unrest pervades all the provinces*
Some of the deputies In the National Assembly were
inclined to blame these uprising# upon eon spiracles fomented
by the upper clergy.
Two days later the Journal de Paris
listed In detail many proposals of methods to halt popular
The disorders had become serious.94
The commune
of y&rls offered a reward for information leading to the
arrest of plotter# and disturbers of the peace.
A# a further
precautionary measure it was ordered that the citiadns of
parle keep their doorways and first floor# lighted in an
effort to decrease the disturbances.99
fueling in pari# grew increasingly tense as the
hour of voting on the confiscation Issue approached, and
both clergy and laity occasionally did foolish, desperate
Buquesnoy reported some of these follies:
following anecdote will appear unbelievable, but is impossible
to doubt It.
From the night of Wednesday the 28th to
Thursday, the Count of L&taeth, a member of the research com­
mittee, and another member of this committee were placed
at the head of 600 sen from the national guard; they station­
ed a sentinel at the door of every house la the street of
They recommended silence to every
person passing in the street.
It Is said that they had orders
to fire on anyone leaving the convent of the Filles BXeues
who did not stop instantly when commanded to do so.
pretend that they were going Into this convent to search
for Mr. BarentIn, who had hidden there, they say, because
one of his parents was the superior of the convent.
gentlemen were said to be seeking a man who had enrolled
for the aristocrats, but had escaped.
Jokers say that a
nun old enough and big enough to be taken for Mr. Barentin
was subjected to a severe Inquisition.
It is at least cer­
tain that t. is Is one of the most dangerous follies that
could ever be committed.
Musi the research committee trans­
form itself then into a police body?
If the National As­
sembly has placed the executive power in the hands of the
King, ought their members to descend to the vilest details
of execution?
**©ne Aheuld not be surprised if the people insult
the ecclesiastics.
I witnessed yesterday a most shameful
scene between a bishop, whose name X shall not mention, and
M. Lameth, who carried on a violent argument in a public'
marketplace. How can one believe the legislators, how ©an
one hope to regenerate a State when the slightest sentiments
of humanity and of prudence are lacking? *
Up to the zero hour of the vote on the confiscation
measure the clergy fought desperately.
HThe goods of the
poor should not be used to pay the creditors of the State.*
This declaration was contained in handbills distributed among
the crowds that passed the palais Boy&l the very day that
the confiscation of Church property wag voted.
Here again,
however, the propaganda of the clergy had failed.
The following anecdote illustrates the bitterness
felt by the clergy at Its defeat.
»0n leaving yesterday*e
session in which the wealth of the clergy was declared to be­
long to the Nation, a bishop of whom some women asked alms
replied, showing them his empty pockets, *My children, I
have nothing more left.
X have left everything inside
Another newspaper reported that the Bishop1*
response was, HThe Nation has taken all our wealth.
it for
Clerical objections to confiscation ranged in
spirit from gentle reproach to venomous denunciation.
example of the milder type of argument was a letter from
Evreux, dated October 28, and printed in the November 4
issue of the journal &e la
el* flgfi province^,. This
letter took up in gentle though sarcastic language a rather
long and involved story of a benefactor who gave his nephew
a small priory on the edge of his estates.
The brothers
of the nephews received much richer estates, but as the
years went on, their descendants, through dissipation and
mismanagement, squandered their heritage, while the one
nephew, through his prudence and care, not only conserved
hut also added to M s small inheritance.
How, the writer
complained, the 25,000,000 relatives of the descendant of
the provident nephew clamored to share in his estate, hut
this would only have the effect of making him lean without
satisfying the hunger of all his relations.
fee writer next belittled the reasoning which per­
mitted the Assembly to declare that fee clergy was not a
proprietor, since it could not dispose of its estates.
cording to hi®, it was this wise prohibition which had pre­
vented the clergy from being in a position similar to feat
of the Nation.
His conclusion was an ironic comment to the
effect feat he, a poor priest, could not pretend to go
counter to the reasoning of fee wide Assembly; he realised
that they m e t have taken into consideration all the reasons
against confiscation and had found them Invalid.
Accompanying this letter was an editorial note
which stated feat *one could scarcely refuse the ecclesiastics
the liberty of Indulging in a little humor, and we believed
that under the circumstances one could print this gay and
ptquante letter without serious consequences.8 Serious con­
sequences were particularly improbable since fee letter had
not been published till after fee decree had been passed.6®
To fee wealthy churchmen, and to fee court nobles
who hoped to receive lucrative benefices, fee passage of fee
confiscation decree seemed a much greater catastrophe than
it did to the country priests and country nobles who did not
profit fro® the clerical wealth.
Gouverneur Morris inters
viewed an irate nobleman who could not believe that the de­
cree would be enforced.
»yist@d Chevalier Garro.
He is very
angry with the national Assembly for taking the Church lands
as well as for other things they have done.
He concludes
that the provinces will not consent to the appropriation of
this property to the national use, and this is the opinion
of many others, but I think they are all mistaken, for no
one but the clergy is directly enough concerned to make a
personal issue of the matter; and as for public spirit,
it cannot exist among a people so recently emancipated.* ©1
The jubilant Ghronlgue &£. aartg. described the
different reactions ©f members of the clergy to the confisca­
tion decrees
*Today, now that the nation has obtained the
redemption of the wealth of the clergy, the nolrillty have
no more privileges, and what one has called the two first
orders have been absorbed Into the commons, there can no
longer be a party-gpirlt, conflicting interests, or enemies
of the State.
They always believed that It was necessary
t© divide in order to govern, while, according to the
statement ©f the eloquent Mirabe&u, to govern is only to
**A court bishop came to my home this morning.
told me with a satisfied air;
*H©w we have received our Just
Post tenebras lux (light after darkness).
that remains for us to do is to marry, to make ourselves
honest men.1
tf*Ah, Monseigneur, what kind of talk is that from
a priest?1
ttAt this title of Mon&eigneur, he became very
angry; he ho longer wishes this exaggerated appellation of
the time ©f Louis XX^, today especially when the Mshops are
no longer seigneurs, when the most reverend fathers are paid
wages, and will actually he the servants of the H&tion.
are returning to their primitive institution, to the example
of the sovereign pontiff who still ©alls himself gervua
Bervorua Dal. (servant of the servants of Ood) *
wThis bishop no longer wishes the crosses or the
badges which he has before and behind; he pretends that h©
has too little left to pay for lac© and embroidery.
*Quit© different is the ill-humored prelate, who
as he la leaving the Assembly that Monday, November 2, meets
a poor woman who asks M m for alas; he replies, 1How that the
nation has all our wealth, go to it for alms.1®^
*1 will add that the bishop has written us a
short and vigorous memoir on the manner of rendering the
clergy of Franc© truly useless.
hasten to add only that there was a kind of
fatality attached to this decree on the ecclesiastical wealth:
X& was rendered at the abode of the archbishop, pronounced
by tb© lawyer of the clergy, on the *Jour de morts,1 and
followed that same evening by an eclipse of the moon.
"The spirit of liberty always overthrows the dif­
ferent aristocracies which devour the empire; if the fdurth
of August is one of the most remarkable dates in the annals
of France, the second and third of November will be no
less precious to posterity.
In marked contrast to the gloom and cynicism of
most of the clergy and novility over the passage of the
decree was the extravagant Joy of the public a® expressed
In various writings like the following poem, "an impromp­
tu bit of verse written upon leaving the National Assembly
November 2%*
"With what unusual brilliance
Shines this happy day,
Which forever assures prosperity
To the creditors of tee State.
"The fatal decree is pronounced
In the palace of the Archbishop,
And tee president who announces It
Is a lawyer of tee clergy.
"This salutary and pious action
Occurs on tee day of judgment,
And this moment of glory expiates
Ten centuries of past sins.
"In order that the eclipse be complete,
The moon herself this evening
Is careful to conedal her light
In order better to hide their despair.
"Thus, when heaven and earth
Confirm these happy decrees,
Fear no longer hunger or war,
Think only of living in peace.
The irony ©f the facts mentioned in the second
and third sbans&s was also commented upon by Louis Blanc,
J in his M.atrfffis de la Revolution.
The decree "had been ren-
dered on the 'jour das morts* (a Church holiday), on the
motion of a bishop, under the presidency of Camus, a member
of the clergy, and In the palace of the archbishop of Paris.116®
A week &fter the passage of the confiscation de­
cree the
printed a pas^hlet which summarised
in rather flowery terms the series of events leading up to
that important occasion; the title was, tt0n the wealth of
the clergy, which has become national property, and the
trickery of the monks and the priests in acquiring these
The writer proceeded as follows;
"Constantly re­
curring disorders kept delaying the important work on the
constitution, and troubled good citizens who were worried not
only about their fate as individual© but also about a much
more imminent danger which was threatening the Assembly.
immense abyss of the deficit became larger from day to day
and seemed ready to engulf everything.
Hie people, crushed
by a long aeries of abuses and misfortunes, far from being
able to
s u p p o r t
an increase in taxes, had the most press­
ing need of a. prompt alleviation.
were necessary.
Thus some new resources
But present resources were completely ex­
hausted; credit was necessary, but it had been destroyed.
Since bankruptcy was imminent, it was necessary to ward it
off at once, or see the political body dealt a fatal blow,
and the glory of th© French name shamefully besmirched.
eyes now turned toward the clergy, whose immense possessions
presented themselves in this turmoil as the only means of
avoiding a wreck.
It was known that in the different ages of
the monarchy, when the priests had found many ways of gain­
ing all the Nation's wealth, the Nation had also discovered
in several instances a means of recovering this wealth, when
public needs made such action imperative.
And certainly a
more critical situation than the present had never so im­
periously demanded the most powerful and the most extraordi­
nary measures.
^However, they still hesitated; they were frighten­
ed at the thought of the great sacrifice which they were
going to demand in the name of their country^ and they were
afraid of the m s s of individual interests with which they
would thus come in conflict, as well as the mass of prejudices
which It m s necessary to oppose.*
Mege,flfia3A^g &§. Blau^t,
la. S U M
T. 1, p. 288.
4ff# Provincesf 14 octobre, p. 55*
l & g & M & M ilm£* 17 octobre, 7. 3, p. 347.
4 • I&i. JEja^tAQBB.4ft rnrls,. Mo. 15, 24 octobre, pp. 31-32.
da ££EM*rT 24 octobre, p. 245.
ffiXlary, BrliS&fltt. Jte MrvliXe. p. 150 .
m v lan, m.atol??e Financier©. p. 249.
l m 4 . da
la m i f t ttkAfci Erovlfices. 28 octobre, p. 110.
la J U 2 a ak da»
is octobre, p. 3 7 ;
octobre, pp. 117-U S .
s, 24 octobre, p. 245; 28 octobre, p.
T. 2, 18 octobre, p. 1331.
LQimvrzX M
la - S U M ak M S l ZXQXXmm*. s novewbre, pp. 13-
det lff
, Vtlle jgi <$$$
, 14 ootobre, p. 20
de 2gy£jg, Mo. 65, 27 ootobr©, p. 258.
a& daa gmtfji&Mb. 14 octobre, p. 55.
Ibid., 13 octobre, p. 51
15 octobre, p.
.da 2a StJAa
29 ootabre, p. 113.
ffroyincea. 14 octobre, p. ©6.
7. 2, 15 oetobre, p. 1317
p. 159.
29 octobre-7 novembre,
!, p* 871.
.... ..Universal. No. 79, 28*29 octobre, p. 324.
LS. Point
Jqu?- ?. 3, 29 ootobre, pp. 481-482.
33.Ssm m lL
Btfla. ?.
30 octobro, p. 1396.
Jfflgflal M& la JUlS. S& 6ss ProTlacea- 35 ootobre, p. 98.
flames; SSL provenee. ?.3,so. 50, 36-3? ootobre, pp. 17-
Courier gg Prorence.
?.3 ,so. 60 29 ootobre-2 norembre.
M M mils e.t float pro_YlnoaB. SO ootobre, p. 77.
1 24 octobre, p*
29. I& fSHU\ M Masts, T} 3, Ho. 8, p. 107.
m. aaa^Bag
2© ootobre, p. 4©?
» « » ! « , p.
S3, a w m l & la 2U1& si. aes smamaa.
octobre,p. se.
Uobaerratear. T. 1, so. 38, pp. 331-334.
Journal Ae la JQJAg Si. 4&ft BgaTlBeea. is ootobre, p. 68.
Gent millions pour la Justice!
tmux cents pour le Religion!
Juges, pr&tres, la Ration
pay© un pen cher votre service.
aussi vous or&ignes, dit-on.
On ‘habilesent on me sal siesc
Oette* attrayante occasion
l*op§r@r# par supression
pe maint office a ’benefice,
quelque bonification;
It vraiment vous avex raison,
flats© am Oiel qu *on y reus si see
Oroire a plaider sent deux iispots
que tout peuple met sur lul meme.
itoax depens dee heureux travaux
B© Bacchus et de Triptoleme.
Croire & plaider sent deux be coins
Be metre mince & foil© ©space
qua la franc© dams m detress©,
Taehe d@ sati sfaire a raolns.
the flavor of the poem is best retained by leaving
it in this form.
SSRFWftmst, M
LAObservafomr, l§ octobre, p. 226*
SSmm&mf M
This had sometimes been done to Gospel th# payment of
feudal fees fey relatives of the deceased who had not
met their obligations promptly.
41 •
tt&A* No. 54, 16 oetofere, pp. 214-215.
l§gU, No. 56, 18 oetofere, pp. 221-222.
l& $MAM* No. 61, 23 octobre, pp. 242-243.
7. 3, HO. 53, 12-13 octobre.
pp. 8-9.
44 •
19 octobre, p. 451.
Ibid., 24 oetofere, p. 476.
ibid., 30 ootobre, p. 7.
7eraailles j& Parle f 14-29 ootofere,
pp. 104-106.
, 7. 3, 17 ootofere, p. 363.
, Ho. 15, 24-31 ootofere, pp. 30, He. 18, 24-31 ootofere, pp. 30et houx, g
a i S M is
7* 5, pp. isa-
Ho. 62, 24 ootofere, pp. 247-248.
7. 3, 17 oetofere, pp. 347-363.
, 24 ootofere, p. 263.
£& £fegyu 14-22 ootofere,
, 17 ootofere, p.
14-22 oetofere.
pp. 104-106.
24 oetotoe,p* 263
Bucher et Boux
p. 202,
, 23 oetofere,
pp. 90-91,
• Journal ,gg. j&eue&mov. 20 ootofere, p.
Journal da m y l s . 22 oetofere# T. 3, p. 1357.
Bucbez «t Boux,
Parlementalre- T. 3, p. 202.
Journal jam. .fom«MmoyP 50 oetofere, p. 7.
Bayis. 23 oetofere, pp. 13-16.
4 novembre, p . 132
p. a®.
J& 7111 e £& dea Provinces. 3 novemfere, p. 135.
B&cajSU Mo. 17, 31 octobre-7 novemfere,
p . 31 •
Journal do
711 le et des Provinces. 4 aoveiafere, p. 137.
Morris, Blary of the ffrenoh devolutions ?. 1, p. 283.
The fact that this anecdote Is found in several news­
papers of the time is evidence of the widespread amuse­
ment and Interest It aroused.
SS«m3Sm M
ito m ia a a , S& ESX1&, T. noveaibre, p. 303.
patrlophlla, La Pstrlatlaaa. pp. 40-41.
F©*®*, L *A lle g a tio n JLSLft M S W M. SSLSSSS, k 2&
p. 13.
Le^Moalteup UnlTSPseX. No. 87, 9-10 nowabre, pp. 353-
g&KU. wo. 74, 8 novembre, pp. 293-294.
The Church property was declared to be at the
disposal of the nation by a rote of 566 against 546, with
40 members not voting*-*'
A totaling of the rotes east shows
t|iat emigration had not yet made serious inroads on the at­
tendance of the Assembly.
However, it is probably true that
the great majority of the 150 members unaccounted for had
departed from their native land.
The last-minute change in the wording of the motion
from *the Church property belongs to the Nation* to *the
Church property is at the disposal of the nation* had been
the result of a happy though by Mirabeau, who believed that
without changing the meaning of the motion he could render
It more palatable by this substitution of words.S
Some of the contemporary reactions to the passage
of the decree have already been cited In Chapter Five.
clergy as a whole felt very bitter about its defeat, though
a few members were satisfied that an act of justice had been
On the other hand, the great majority of the people
were overjoyed at the news,
reasons for their enthusiasm.
undoubtedly there were many
The humbling of the clergy
that would result from the action in the dpinlon of many,
pleased them very much*
The revolt of the provinces that
the clerical speakers had prophesied did not take place
even in the smallest degree; probably the chief explanation
for this was that many landholders saw at least a possibility
that they might now acquire lands for their children or for
rounding out their own acreages •
The ter® am^te-main or
dead hand describes the Intense feeling that the peasants
had for the system of landholding under the clergy, which
so effectually prevented estates under its control from ever
entering the possession of private owners.
It was a week later that Talleyrand
another motion that all church buildings except those in
actual use for divine worship be sealed In order to prevent
the unauthorised removal of any furniture or other effects
before an Inventory could be made.
He also requested that
in tee case of each Individual church organisation its char­
ters, manuscripts, title deeds, and statements of member­
ships, revenues, and expenses be given over to the head of
teat organisation, to be kept by him until they were collect­
ed by a person designated by tee Assembly.3
This motion was
in spite of tee efforts of certain members of the
to use It as an excuse for reopening the whole ques­
tion of tee ownership ©f Church property.
r 19 the Assembly created a
solely on the Assembly itself.
,, white was really a new government bank, was given
the name of the Extraordinary Exchequer.
All the proceeds
from emergency taxes, such as the patriotic income tax of
25 per cent, were to be paid to this bank*
However, Its
principle resource would be the moneys collected from the
sale of the Ohurch lands.
The plan was to offer for sale
400,000,00© livras* worth as a beginning.
Treasury bonds
called agplffmtjg, were issued to this amount, and carried
the privilege of purchasing the lands*
The assignats were
not currency, for they carried interest at 5 per cent; the
Idea was that eg the properties were sold and the assignats
returned, they would he destroyed and thus tee 0tate debt
would he wiped out*
This operation was not successful at
first because Investors hesitated to accept the assignats*
The reason for their reluctance was that the clergy retained
the administration of tee Church properties, which were
with tee old debts*
It was not until tee
deprived tee clergy of tele administration and tool
over the Church debt, thus freeing the lands from all pre­
vious commitment a, teat tee public gained confidence in tee
The s tory of how these bonds Eventually be­
came currency, and highly inflated currency at that, is
not within tee scope of this paper*
The Hatlon at last had begun to use tee wealth of
the teuroh for its own heeds*
can scarcely be overestimated.
% e importance of this action
One may well wonder whether
the Revolutionary government without this resource would
have been able to pay off the debts of tee ancient regime,
preserve itself from bankruptcy, and create a national trea­
sury sufficiently strong to permit tee waging of war against
both internal and external foes*
Certainly the utilisation
of the Church wealth made possible the development of the
Revolution in its later phases, and ©ay even have assured
its success •
BCTolutioafi de Paris. No. 17, 51 octobre-7 noverabre,
p. 31.
i*e Mooifeeur llnlyerael f No. 87, 9*10 noveabre, pp.353555.
The ffrench Reyplutlonf pp. 96-108.
Lists &es Prelate & abbee qul possedent plusleurs benefioes,
centre lee lols des Saints Gonoiles
Le cardinal de Brienne, L* arcHeveche^ de Seen,
!•abbaye de Moissac, I 1abbaye de Saint-Quen de Rouen, l fabbaye
de Corbie, 1«abbaye de Saint-Vandrille, 1«abbaye de BasseFontaine.
be cardinal de Bohan,
L*eveche de Strasbourg,
1«abbaye de Saint-Vaaft, l ’abbay© de la Chaise-DIeu.
be cardinal de la Roche-Foucauld.
L#areheveohe de
Rouen, l fabbeys de Clunl, 1*abbaye de Fecamp.
de Bemls.
L*arch© veche d'Albi,
1•abbaye de Saint-Medard de Solssons, I 1abbeys de TroisFontaines.
be Qaydimai de Jfemtmoreaee •
L« eveche de Meta,
1* abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel, I 1abbaye de Salnt-Lucien,
1*abbaye de Saint-Arnould.
M. de Billon.
L ’archev^ehe de N&rbonne, 1*abbaye
de Saint-Etienne de Caen, 1« abbaye de Stgny.
M* de Boisgella.
L*arehe veche d*Aix, 1*abbaye de
Chalis, 1*abbaye de Saint allies, lfabbaye de Saint-Maixant.
M. de Cice.
l/arche veche de Bordeaux, 1*abbaye de
Orasse, 1 1abbaye d^Quroamp.
M. de Talleyrand perigord.
1*abbaye de Ceroamp.
L*arche veche de Reims,
I 1abbaye de Saint-Quentin en I 1Isle.
M. de Marbeuf.
L^rohe veche de Lyon, 1 1abbaye de
M. de I&ifort.
L* arch© veche de Bdsangon, !•abbaye
de la Charibe, 1 1abbaye de Lessay.
M. de Bohan.
L* areheveche de Cambrai, I 1abbaye
du Mont Sal nt- Quentin.
M. de Lube r sac.
L*evech© de Chartres, 1*abbaye de
la are netiers, 1 *abbaye de Hoirlac.
M. de Jarente.
L1£veehe d 1origans, 1»abbaye &*Aisnay
1«abbaye de Saint-floy de Moyon.
'M» de falaru.
L fdv8eh# de Coutanees, 1* abbaye de
Blanehel&nde, 1 ’abbaye de Mon&ebourg.
M. de Saint Marsault.
L'eveehe de pergame In
partlbua. 1 1abbaye de Bassac, 1*abbaye de Longponb, 1 *abbaye
de Lagny.
M. de Yille&ieu, L1eveche de Bigne, X «abbaye de
Cereance&ux, 1* abbaye de ForetiBQutler.
M. de Quincey.
L feveohe de Be Hey, 1 *abbaye de
Conches, 1* abbaye de Saint Martin, Autua.
de Saint Aulaire.
L'eveche de Poitiers, 1*abbaye
de S&int-Taurin d'Evreaux, 1»abbaye de Coulombs.
M. de Girao.
L* eveche de Beanes, 1»abbaye de
Sal nt-flvroul d, 1*abbaye de Froldement.
M. de Sourdellles.
L* eveche de Soissona, 1«abbaye
de la Trialte de Vendome, 1 #abbaye de Saint-Jean des Yignes.
M. de Roquelaur© ,
L‘6veche de Senlis, 1* abbaye
de Xa Tlctoire, 1*abbaye de Salnt-Oerraer.
U* d* Argentre (Jean-Baptiste).
L*eveche de Sees,
1 *abbaye &* Olivet, X* abbaye de Saint-Aubin, X *abbaye de
M. d*Argentre (Louis-Charles) *
L fiveche de
Limoges, X*abbaye de Vaux-Qernay, X*abbaye de Saint-Jeand*Asigely*
M- de Sa Int- 3auveur. L ’e veche de Tulles,
d^rbestier, 1* abbaye &® Montier-Ramey.
M. de Montalgnac,
L1©veche de T&rbes, 1 1abbaye
de Quar&nte, 1*abbaye de Saint-Vineent de Mans.
B. B. Plus de soixante eveques dont on passe
les ncms, qui ont tons une abbaye aveo l&ur eveche, sans
compter pri cures simples d*un revenur considerable.
M. laury.
L&abbaye de Xa Frena&e, Xe prieure
de Lyons.
M. De Vermont, L1abbaye de Gherlieu, 1*abbaye
de H m *
M. de saint-Fare.
L #abbaye de Livy, 1® prleure
de St* Mart in-de s-ohamps.
M. de Saint-AXbin*
L* abbaye d*tenecy, 1‘abbaye
M. de Monte squiou*
L* abbaye de Beaulieu, Xe Mans
X ‘abbaye de Beaulieu, Langre?*
M* de Xa fare*
1*abbaye de Lleques.
de Chaumont *
L‘abbaye de Baume-1 es-Moines,
M. de Bay&nne.
L,*abb&ye de Roheries, 1 *abbaye
de H&utvllliers, 1* abbaye de Cherbourg.
M. de Chabannel.
t^abbay© de la Create, X ‘abbaye
de Benevant, 1»abbaye de Cue-de-l*Armay.
M* de Foy.
X*1abbaye de la Croix S&ini-Leufroy,
X*abbaye de Sainb-Marin de Seea.
M* de Mostuejols.
L 1abb&ye de Saint-Bioolas,
Apgerar 1«abbaye de 3&lni-Vincent, Senlla,
M. de Veri. L 1abbaye de S&int-Satur, 1*abb&ye de
f m m *
M* de Rualem.
t^&bb&ye de Saint-A1 lyre, 1« abbaye
de Saint-Faron.
Tire© du Supplement au n^.
66 de 1 *Obeervateur .
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