This sample paper on Louis Xiv Excommunication offers a framework of relevant facts based on recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body, and conclusion of the paper below.
Louis’ religious policies were driven by his self image of a ‘Most Christian King’ who had divine right to rule as he saw fit. This included ensuring the internal security of France and preventing potential enemies from invading it. In the end, his poor handling of these issues, and his attempts at expanding his own power at the expense of the papacy’s, caused confrontation between himself and the papacy, especially with the infamously incorruptible Innocent XI.
From 1693, though, Louis was forced to concede and accept that the Vatican was more influential than he, and, as a result, it was better to work with it rather than against it.
Louis’ attitude to his absolutist power had the potential to bring him into conflict with the pope. Louis XIV was a devoted Catholic, but he did not understand the complexities of theology.
Louis received spiritual advice from the Jesuits, a persuasive organization of priests who attempted at any cost to ‘further the interests of heaven’. Harlay, the archbishop of Paris, was the king’s chief adviser on ecclesiastical affairs; and, he was more than happy to tell the king what he wanted to hear as were most of his advisers. Louis also believed in the Divine Right of Kings, that God had chosen him to be king. This had the power to bring him into conflict with the Pope.
Louis liked to present himself as the France’s saviour from disunity and strife, not least because his birth had been so unexpected.
Louis showed disregard for the Pope when, in 1662 he demanded and received a full apology from the Pope after an altercation between the Pope’s Corsican Guards and the French Ambassador’s guards in Rome.
Louis was grateful to the Pope for issuing a bull condemning the Jansenists, against whom Louis was waging a vendetta.
Beneath the surface, though, was the powerful force of Gallicanism, a movement which resisted papal interference in French religious affairs.
B. Louis’ attempt at extending his influence over Church affairs in France was done mainly at the expense of Rome.
1. In 1673 Louis issued a royal declaration, claiming that he was entitled to the regale in all parts of the realm, not just in northern France. This was an ancient custom, by which the king took the money from vacant bishoprics. The Pope supported the appeal of two French bishops in the Midi. Innocent XI remarked that it was not for the king to alter the customs of the church.
2. This provoked a furious response from Louis XIV, who now encouraged the influential Gallican movement.
3. In March 1682, the French bishops published the Gallican Articles. These were anti-papal, pronouncing that ‘kings and princes were not subordinate to Rome in spiritual matters’ and that, ‘the pope’s decisions could be altered if they did not have the approval of the whole church’. These were inflammatory and highly offensive to Rome.
4. Innocent XI responded by refusing to consecrate any more French bishops, so that before long no less than 35 dioceses were unfilled.
5. In 1687, Innocent also cancelled the criminal immunity of the French embassy in Rome.
6. Louis informed his ambassador to defy papal authority, only for the ambassador to receive excommunication and Louis to be threatened with it.
C. Louis’ hatred of Protestantism and, by implication, potential enemies to his relam did not particularly impress Rome.
1. Here, you need to summarize the reasons why Louis had it in for the Huguenots. Louis was especially shocked and horrified at them after his Dutch War, which ended in 1678. His foreign policy and religious persecution were inextricably linked. Louis wanted to ‘reunite’ foreign lands with France and impose not only territorial uniformity on them, but also religious uniformity on his French subjects. How else could he claim to be an ‘absolutist’ king if the presence of the Huguenots made his religious authority in France something less than absolute?
2. Also, discuss the implications of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, with the edict of Fontainebleau in 1685.
3. Innocent XI was particularly unimpressed with Louis’ edict of Fontainebleau, since he was at the time a joint crusade of Catholics and Protestants against the Turks. Innocent reasoned, perhaps correctly that Louis ‘looked more to the advantages of his realm than to the kingdom of God’.
D. Louis’ attempts at extending his influence over Church affairs in other territories also alarmed Rome.
1. Louis’ concern about the election to the Archbishopric of Cologne similarly led to problems between he and the pope. Louis reasoned that the Archbishopric of Cologne was crucial to French security. It was a Catholic outpost in Protestant territory. It was also strategically and geographically vital, since it had provided Louis with access to Holland in 1672. The death in 1688 of the French puppet in Cologne, Maximilian-Henry brought pope and king into direct conflict. Louis XIV wanted another French puppet to be in control of the bishopric; his enemy, the Elector of Bavaria, wanted a different candidate, who would advance the interests of the German princes. The pope was called in to confirm a candidate. The pope would be neither bribed nor cajoled into doing Louis’ bidding and appointing the French candidate; instead, he appointed the German candidate to Louis’ humiliation and horror.
2. Louis retaliated with outrageous anti-papal propaganda and violence; he seized the papal state of Avignon in southern France. This embarrassed French Catholics and appalled public opinion throughout Europe.
E. Louis’ need for papal support led him to reverse his policies towards the papacy.
1. Reconciliation was assisted by the death of Innocent XI in 1689.
2. In 1693 Louis withdrew the Gallican Articles and a compromise was reached over the regale.
3. Now, he especially needed the support of the pope against the French Jansenists: he now had to appeal to the Pope before he could impose his policies on his own people.