In my previous lecture, I outlined some of the issues that remained unresolved in 1790 and 1791, and which were creating tensions between, supporters of the revolution and those who felt that already its reforms were too radical. What I want to do today is turn to another of those tensions, one which was to be a major turning point, and that concerns the reforms to the Church. Remember that the National Assembly includes large numbers, here they are in their black clerical garb, of clerical deputies to the Estates-General. Several hundred of them, the majority of them parish priests, who are very popular because they were the people who had started to break ranks with privilege in 1789, and join with the third estate, or commoner deputies. There was a great deal of goodwill towards the parish clergy of France, if not towards the aristocratic elite, of the Church. When Parisians celebrate the achievements of the first year of the French Revolution of the Champ de Mars in July 1790, the special music that's written for that occasion by Francois-Joseph Gossec, who's the director of the parish opera, expresses that popular Catholic belief that God is somehow watching over the French Revolution. It's in no sense, hostile to the role of the Church: We praise you, O God. We confess to you as our Lord. All the earth worships you as eternal father. The Cherubim and Seraphim Ceaselessly proclaim You. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of the Glory of Your Majesty. Good will. But from early on in the Revolution, even though everybody expects that the Revolution needs to reform the Church, even the parish clergy, expect that there will be reform, from early on in the Revolution, the Assembly takes measures which begin to concern members of the former first estate. First of all, when in November 1789, the National Assembly resolves the fiscal crisis, the bankruptcy of the monarchy, by seizing church property by placing it at the disposal of the nation to be sold off at auction, many parish clergy as well as the upper clergy of bishops and archbishops are concerned that the church has lost its property. Late in 1789 and early in 1790, when the full extent of the Declaration of the Rights of Man starts to be played out in terms of religious freedom, there are many Catholics, both members of the clergy and parishioners, who are concerned that Protestants and Jews, at least the Sephardi Jews of the south of France, have been given equal religious rights to Catholics. The Ashkenazi Jews of the east of France, by the way, will have to wait until 1791 before they achieve full equality. But its above all the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which is passed on the 12th of July 1790 which is to be a major turning point, which is to cause enormous division, and rancor, and finally, even bloodshed across revolutionary France. Note the date, this is just two days, before that great celebration of unity and reform on the Champ de Mars, in Paris. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy is the attempt of the National Assembly to introduce reforms to the Church, which they argue are purely about civil or secular matters, they're administrative matters. And yet as far as many members of the Church are concerned, these are reforms which go well beyond, the civil or secular organization of the Church and actually impede on the spiritual life of the Church. Very few parish priests were bothered that the salaries of most parish clergy are increased, that the state will now pay the clergy rather than the clergy extracting tithes from their parishioners, as the basis of the payment. They are not concerned either that bishops would be paid a great deal less than they had been under the old regime. They do become bothered however, when the Assembly decides that there are far too many churches than are really necessary for the spiritual life of the Church. And introduces a measure by which only a population of several thousand is entitled to have a parish priest and a parish church, that many churches and smaller chapels in the countryside are to be closed down for reasons of efficiency. It rankles with people who for generations within their family have been used to worshiping in a particular place. Most importantly of all, the National Assembly decides to introduce into the life of the Church, the same principle of popular sovereignty of election by active citizens of the clergy just as they had for elections of the local municipal council. To a church which had assumed that authority descended from God, through the Pope, and the cardinals, and the archbishops, and the bishops, the choice of the people, at least active citizens, that were to make about who would be their parish priests is one that is profoundly divisive. Because as far as the Church is concerned and many of the faithful, authority comes from God. The choice of the parish clergy by the people is seen to be anathema to a fundamental principle of authority, in the Catholic Church. The clergy, if they are to remain as parish clergy, are to be elected early in the new year in 1791. And in November 1790 the Assembly decides that any clergy who are elected have to take an oath to uphold the constitution to be faithful to the nation, the king, and the laws. When, the clergy stand for election on New Years Day in 1791 a huge number of them try and take a restricted oath: I swear to be faithful to the nation, the law, and the king in all secular matters. But in spiritual matters and religious matters, I can respect only, the authority of the Pope as the word of God. Those parish priests cannot ultimately, remain in charge of parishes. They're to continue to be paid but they can't administer the sacraments. Across the country, maybe half the parish priests and only a very small number of Bishops are prepared to take the oath. Many of those parish priests subsequently retract when, in April 1791, the Pope declares that the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, indeed the French Revolution as a whole, is anathema, and that those priests who have taken the oath are, in effect, guilty of heresy. They cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. They will be excommunicated from the church. What has happened, because of church reform, and the response of so many of the clergy and the Pope to it, is that the Church has been ripped apart. And with them their congregations. This is not, even right across the country. And you might remember from my first lecture, that I drew a crucial distinction between the clerical cultures of Western France, particularly the northwest and of the Paris basin and of the southeast of France. And that's the way that the clerical oath played out as well because, up here in the north west and west, very few priests are prepared to take the oath, whereas around Paris and down in the southeast the vast majority are prepared to do that. And I explained that, in a previous lecture by the clerical culture that's so different between the two regions. That in the west and northwest, villagers are surrounded by hamlets, and small farms, where the priests play a crucial role. Some historians have described their parishes almost as tiny theocracies, where the parish priest is the most dominant person in the village. A man from a prominent local family who directly collects the tithe, administers charity, who provides, the fulcrum of the community which comes together only on Sundays from the surrounding hamlets, and outlying farms, it is genuinely a community of souls. And when the Parish priests in areas like this say we cannot accept the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, it's anathema to the authority of the Pope, then what is to be the case with their congregations? Are they likely to see the priests that are elected as, in some sense, intruders? Very different in the southeast, where the great mass of the population lives in these concentrated large villages, where they're not dependent on the local parish priest, for the community solidarity, for news of the outside world. And where the mass of the parish clergy are content to see themselves as in some sense, citizen priests administering to the spiritual needs of their secular congregations. As the Church is ripped apart by the oath between constitutional and nonjuring clergy, will it be the case that their congregations are torn apart as well? What will be their response, to the call of the Pope, to oppose the Revolution that they owe obedience only to him?