Journal Article

The Conseil d'État and the Religious Communities, 1879–1906

Elwyn Elms

in French History

Published on behalf of Society for the Study of French History

Volume 16, issue 2, pages 174-202
Published in print June 2002 | ISSN: 0269-1191
Published online June 2002 | e-ISSN: 1477-4542 | DOI:
The Conseil d'État and the Religious Communities, 1879–1906

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This article analyses the role played by the Conseil d'État in the offensive against the religious communities during the first phase of the Third Republic. The Republic had inherited a tradition of administrative centralism from a succession of prior regimes, and it was also the bearer of a liberal and democratic and secular‐humanist heritage flowing from the Revolution. The Conseil d'État was the living embodiment of the same centralist tradition, having served a variety of former regimes in its capacity as adviser to the executive. Many of its personnel were men with a strong sense of service to the state. The Conseil d'État was intimately involved in the secular offensive against the religious communities, by virtue of its position as government adviser and also because of its supervisory role over the Congregations which could receive no gift or legacy, and could neither sell nor acquire property without the Council's approval. The Council's armoury in this anticlerical war consisted in the main of the laws of anterior regimes which still remained in force, and its strategy was to recognize not the Congregations themselves but only the individual schools, noviciates and other establishments which they had spawned. It was the policy of divide and rule. The sources for this paper are the hitherto unexplored archives of the Conseil d'État itself.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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