Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585-1638)
|Louis XIV - religion and dissension
|Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585-1638) was educated at the University
of Louvain - the local epicentre of bitter arguments over
predestination and free will (ended in 1597 by order of Pope Clement
VIII). Jansen was deeply influenced by Jacques Janson (a follower of
Baius) who attacked a Jesuit priest, Leonardo Lessius, for
Semipelagianism. Jansen too became a lifelong enemy of the Society
In 1635, Jansen published pseudonymously the satirical tract Mars
Gallicus; it fiercely attacked the policies of the French monarchy in
general, and Louis XIII's alliances with Protestants against
the Hapsburgs in particular. It went through many editions and was
translated into French.
In 1636, Jansen became Bishop of Ypres in the Spanish Netherlands,
only to die within two years.
|After his death, Jansen's friends arranged for the publication
of his Augustinus (1640). Supposedly merely an explication of
Augustine's views on grace and predestination, in fact Jansen
returned to the debate silenced thirty years before, taking a firmly
|One of Jansen's closest friends was Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbot
of Saint-Cyran, who had been imprisoned by Richelieu for his
hostility to Richelieu's foreign policies. He urged Antoine
Arnauld (1612-94) to defend the Augustinus from the
attacks being made on it - especially by Jesuits. For the next fifty
years, even when forced to flee to the Netherlands (1679), Arnauld
defended Jansen and attacked the Jesuits.|
Port-Royal des Champs
Antoine Arnauld's sister, Angèlique
(1591-1661) had become abbess of the convent of Port-Royal at the
age of eleven. After a conversion experience in 1608, she imposed
rigorous standards of observance on the nunnery. 1n 1633, she
chose as the convent's confessor Jean Duvergier de Hauranne,
abbot of Saint-Cyran. The nunnery of Port-Royal became a center of
Pierre Nicole (1625-1695) was another of the Port-Royal Jansenists;
refused ordination because of his views, he too spent some time in
exile in the Spanish Netherlands.
The most famous sympathizer with Jansenism was
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). A
mathematical child prodigy, Pascal was one of the
founders of the modern theory of probability. In 1654, after a
mystical experience, Pascal grew increasingly pious and even more
involved in the activities at Port-Royal, which he and his sister had
frequented since 1646. (He used to wear a girdle of nails and press it
into his skin when he felt wicked urges).
|[Pascal is famous for his path-breaking work on probability; he is
also known as a religious thinker - the two meet in
Pascal's wager, a
novel argument for belief in God's existence.]
The opponents of Jansenism lobbied to have its doctrines condemned. In
1649, the theological school of the University of Paris (the Sorbonne) condemned five
propositions on grace and predestination which they said were contained in the Augustinus. One
of the university's syndics, Nicolas Cornet, applied to Rome for the
Pope's support. |
Innocent X (Velasquez 1650)
|In 1653, Pope Innocent X condemned the
Five Propositions in his Bull, Cum
was deeply suspicious of Jansenism. Many in the Parlement of Paris at the time of the
Fronde had sympathized with Jansenism, and two prominent noble
Frondeurs - Anne Geneviève de Bourbon, Duchess of
and Marie de Rohan-Montbazon, Duchess of Chevreuse - were patronesses of Port-Royal.
Louis and Mazarin tried to expel Jansen's followers by firing or
imprisoning those who would not swear agreement with the papal ruling. But
the virtual imprisonment of the pious nuns of Pont-Royal was
unpopular. Jansenist beliefs were widespread in the French Church -
even in its highest ranks - and it was difficult to expel clergy
(including four bishops) wholesale without causing schism.
Many Jansenists just equivocated and procrastinated. Arnauld, for
example, distinguished between the law and the facts - he accepted
that the five propositions were contrary to the law of the
Church, but he denied that in fact the Augustinus
asserted them. Arnauld was condemned by the Sorbonne in 1656.
Blaise Pascal responded with the Lettres Provinciales
(Provincial Letters). They were published anonymously in 1656 and 1657
with the help of Arnauld and Nicole; (Nicole soon translated and
published a Latin edition). Sharply satirical, the Letters defended
Arnauld, Jansenism and Port-Royal and attacked the Jesuits for sophistical casuistry and moral laxity. The Jesuits were widely unpopular, and
Pascal's ridicule found a ready audience.|
|After negotiations, in 1668, Pope Clement IX restored some peace to
the French Church with the Pax Clementina - an ambiguous
formula that allowed the Jansenists to swear obedience without
conceding the theological issues.
(Carlo Maratta, 1669)
The "peace of the Church" which lasted from 1668 to 1679 was more of a
truce. Jansenism was widespread amongst the Oratorians - an order of
priests, who like the Jesuits specialized in religious education.
Under their influence, many parish priests became sympathetic to
Jansenism. Louis XIV continued to regard Jansenists as a fifth column
and was merely waiting for an occasion to root them out altogether.|
Mother Catherine Agnes
(another of the Arnauld family)
praying for a sick Port Royal nun
In 1679, the Jansenists' patron, the Duchess of Longueville died, and
the King immediately resumed his attack. Arnauld was exiled.
Port-Royal was closed down (1709) and razed to the ground, after its
nuns refused to swear another retraction of Jansenist views.
In 1713, under pressure from Louis XIV, Pope Clement XI issued the
Bull, Unigenitus. The Bull condemned the views expressed
by the Oratorian, Pasquier Quesnel (1634-1719); his views included not
only a Jansenist Augustinianism on questions of grace and
predestination, but a quasi-democratic stress on the rights of the
laity and lesser clergy against the Pope and higher clergy. (Expelled
from the Oratorians, Quesnel fled to Brussels and joined Antoine Arnauld).|
had ceased being a movement solely about soteriology and moral
austerity; it had fused with the lesser parish clergy's discontents
with the Church's hierarchy and with the educated bourgeoisie's desire
for more involvement in the shaping of doctrine.
Despite these tensions, the religious orders
dominated education in France throughout the period.
Huguenots and the
of the Edict of Nantes
Louis XIV saw the Huguenot minority as potentially seditious.
Initially, he thought that it would be easy to convert Huguenot
aristocrats and so weaken their cause, but the conversion of Henry de
la Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount of Turenne proved an isolated case.
Louis XIV began to put more pressure on Huguenots by strictly
enforcing the terms of the Edict of Nantes.
Many Protestant places of worship were closed 1659-1664 and they were
prevented from holding a national synod. In 1680, an edict was issued
forbidding conversions from Catholicism to Protestantism.
From 1681 harsher measures were used, in particular billeting troops
in Protestant homes; these dragonnades were so disruptive and
expensive that many gave in and converted. The remaining, roughly one
million, Huguenots were subject to official harassment in dozens of
other ways, from Protestant women not being allowed to be midwives to
Protestants being forbidden to employ Catholic servants.
Colbert had done his best to limit measures
against Huguenots, because he knew that economically they were a
highly-productive section of the population. But in 1683 Colbert
died and Louis XIV's marriage to Madame de Maintenon marked a period
of increasing piety.|
18 October 1685 - In the Edict of
Fontainebleau, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. The result was
a mass emigration of Huguenots - at least 200,000 left the country.|
The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes not only
deprived France of some of its most industrious and inventive
workers, it also alienated foreign powers - especially
Not all the Huguenots left France: those
remaining faced increased persecution. Brutal force was initially
used against the revolt of the Protestant Camisards in Cévennes
(a region of Languedoc) from 1702. The Camisards were
inspired with millenarian fervor and led by poor zealots; (one
leader gelded sheep, for example). They were named for the
camisards (white shirts or chemises) that they wore at
night to recognize one another while attacking Catholic priests, churches and
local government officials. In 1705, Louis XIV's government was
forced to grant a de facto amnesty to restore order.|
France had a long tradition of Gallicanism. This was a movement with
two distinct strands:
1. Episcopal Gallicanism, which stressed the rights of French
bishops (as opposed to the pope) in church government;
2. Judicial or Royal Gallicanism, which emphasized the powers of the
secular authorities (especially the crown).
The two strands merged during disputes of the 1680s.
Louis XIV believed that the crown should control appointments in the
French Church - these "regalian rights" had been granted in the
Concordat of Bologna. In 1682, Louis announced that he would exercise
the régale - the
right to collect the revenues from vacant bishoprics throughout France.
When Innocent XI protested, Louis XIV assembled the clergy of France
and had them
pass Four Articles (19 March 1682). These
insisted that the French Crown's temporal powers were independent of
the pope, and that the pope's authority over the French church and clergy
was limited even in spiritual matters.
Innocent XI responded immediately (11 April 1682) proclaiming the Four
Articles null and void, and his successor, Alexander VIII, issued a
still more comprehensive condemnation (August 1690).
One of Louis XIV's most eloquent supporters was
Bossuet (1627-1704), a popular preacher, who in 1681 became Bishop of
In his extensive writings on political theory, Bossuet insisted
that the king's power came from God alone.
The popes refused to confirm any bishop nominated by Louis unless he
would disavow the Four Articles; Louis nominated to bishoprics only
priests who acknowledged the Four Articles. By 1688, thirty-five
bishops were nominated but unconfirmed.
Eventually, Louis gave way. In 1693, the bishops-elect disavowed the
Four Articles and were confirmed.|
Louis XIV spent much of his reign waging expensive wars, and by the
1690's the economic cost of this was being felt all over France. From
1688, a highly unpopular militia system placed an unprecedented number
of Frenchmen at risk of service.
From 1689, the Minister of Finance was
Phélypeaux comte de Pontchartrain who resorted to such desperate
means as the sale of offices to obtain money.
18 January 1695 a new
capitation tax was introduced. This was (unusually) levied on
nobles as well as commoners, despite the well-established principal
that the nobility were exempt from all taxation.
In 1693-94 famine and disease
struck much of France, killing perhaps about one in ten of the population.
The combination of these
factors strained loyalty to the crown. Earlier, there had already been popular tax revolts
in Bordeaux and Brittany in 1674-75. At court in the 1690s, discontented nobles
grouped themselves around Louis's grandson, the Duke of Burgundy. In
Les aventures de Télémaque (1699),
Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon (1651-1715) gave tacit but
subversive expression to intellectual distaste for the war,
greed, and hypocrisy of the regime, and was banished for his pains.
A magistrate in Normandy,
Boisguilbert, and a leading military engineer and general, Sébastian Le
Prestre de Vauban, gave voice to the desire for reforms including tax relief and
economic renewal, but Louis XIV continued to believe that war was necessary,
despite the heavy costs.