Guest Notes for Episode 305: French Kings and the Catholic Church

Category: French History

Discussed in this Episode

  • What's grenouille de bénitier?
  • Fille ainée de l'Eglise
  • French Wars of Religion
  • Duc de Guise and Vassy
  • The Edict of Nantes
  • Bastides were established with commerce at their center instead of the church
  • No Protestant ever killed a French King but two Catholics did!
  • The French King is branded as Christ on Earth
  • Louis XVI refuses to subject priests to the new Constitution
  • Jason's favorite places in Paris
  • The Basilica of Saint Denis
  • Notre Dame
  • Cluny Museum

During the last decades of the French Wars of Religion, some of the harshest critics of the French monarchy were the preachers that believed that the government of Henri III had failed to fulfill its obligations in the coronation oath to protect France from heresy. These attacks in the sermons of Catholic preachers eventually led to the assassination of the king.

When Henri IV came to the throne in 1589 one of the first things he needed to do was to reestablish the authority of the monarchy. One of the ways that he did was to have the Catholic preachers use their sermons to preach on the importance of being good subjects as a sign of being good Catholics. One of the more interesting aspects of this took place during the reign of Louis XIII when his confessor, Jean Arnoulx, was involved in a controversy with Pierre du Moulin, the leader of the Protestant community at Charenton. This controversy would also include a young Cardinal Richelieu who would help argue in favour of royal authority throughout France.

This relationship between the Church and the French monarchy would continue for the next 150 years despite its ups and downs. Because the church and monarchy was seen as so connected, when the revolutionaries turned their attacks on Louis XVI, they also equated the church with the corruption of the French elites and sought to destroy it, which they did for a few years during the Revolution before the coming of Napoleon.

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Category: French History