Gregory XVI

Owen Chadwick

in A History of the Popes 1830-1914

Published in print April 1998 | ISBN: 9780198269229
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600456 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

Gregory XVI

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Gregory XVI (pope 1831‐46) pursued a policy in reaction against ’innovators’, meaning political liberalism and the French Revolution and all it stood for, setting the tone for the dislike of the modern world that characterized the papacy throughout the nineteenth century. Paradoxically, however, his assertion of the authoritarian power of the papacy came to be seen by Catholic minorities in Protestant states as the only source of defence of their rights and liberties. Gregory's papacy saw the condemnation of the liberal ideas of Lamennais and his followers in France and the beginnings of the long struggle between French Catholics and anti‐clericals over control of education. In Germany, where the Restoration settlement had created states with large confessional minorities, the papacy was in constant conflict with the Prussian government over the question of mixed marriages and the position of Catholics in the Rhineland. In Switzerland the religious conflict leading to the war of the Sonderbund strengthened the prestige of the papacy among Swiss Catholics. The pope, backed by a reactionary Curia, condemned the first stirrings of Italian nationalism and the compromise between Catholicism and nationalism proposed by the neo‐Guelf movement. Throughout his papacy Gregory was dependent on foreign troops, principally the Austrians, to suppress unrest in the papal states, as a result of which he died ’the most hated of popes’.

Keywords: France, July monarchy; Gregory XVI; Italy, nationalism; Lamennais; missions; neo‐Guelfs; papal states; Prussia; Rhineland; Switzerland

Chapter.  25738 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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