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By Nicole Reinhardt

This paintings examines the position of royal confessors as political counsellors in seventeenth-century Spain and France, and the way, opposed to the backdrop of the momentous highbrow, theological, and political shifts that marked this era, questions of sense of right and wrong grew to become a massive argument within the hegemonic fight among the 2 competing Catholic powers

summary: This paintings examines the position of royal confessors as political counsellors in seventeenth-century Spain and France, and the way, opposed to the backdrop of the momentous highbrow, theological, and political shifts that marked this era, questions of judgment of right and wrong turned an immense argument within the hegemonic fight among the 2 competing Catholic powers

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Voices of conscience : royal confessors and political counsel in seventeenth-century Spain and France

This paintings examines the position of royal confessors as political counsellors in seventeenth-century Spain and France, and the way, opposed to the backdrop of the momentous highbrow, theological, and political shifts that marked this era, questions of sense of right and wrong turned a huge argument within the hegemonic fight among the 2 competing Catholic powers summary: This paintings examines the position of royal confessors as political counsellors in seventeenth-century Spain and France, and the way, opposed to the backdrop of the momentous highbrow, theological, and political shifts that marked this era, questions of moral sense turned a massive argument within the hegemonic fight among the 2 competing Catholic powers

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4 (2011), pp. 713–24, here p. 720; Benoist Pierre, La monarchie ecclésiale, pp. 355–91. Rebuilding the church and rebuilding the state complemented each other, as is masterfully analysed in Joseph Bergin, Church, Society and Religious Change in France, 1580–1730 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009); Joseph Bergin, The Politics of Religion in Early Modern France (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014); Françoise Hildesheimer has drawn attention to the importance of Richelieu’s theological background not only for his ‘self-fashioning’ but also for the ways in which he rationalized politics, see her Relectures de Richelieu (Paris: Publisud, 2000).

The council of policy-making and government in the strict sense, known as the conseil d’en haut from 1643, superseded all other councils. Presided over by the king, its members, exclusively, were called ‘ministers’. Yet the boundaries of this highest of all councils remained remarkably undefined. 8 Until 1661, the conseil d’en haut included the king, officers of the crown (admiral, chancellor, keeper of the seals) as ex officio members, secretaries of state and the surintendant des finances, and finally councillors by royal nomination.

Things changed again at Mazarin’s death in 1661, when Louis XIV declared his intention not to replace the cardinal minister but to ‘rule by himself ’. 31 Yet even a ‘Sun King’ could not ignore canonical procedure requiring the assistance of a suitable clergyman. 32 At least initially, royal involvement and the the Grand Almoner pp. 65–6; see also Alexandre Maral, La Chapelle Royale de Versailles sous Louis XIV: Cérémonial, liturgie, musique (Sprimont: Mardaga, 2002), p. 59. 29 See Joseph Bergin, ‘The royal confessor and his rivals in seventeenth-century France’, French History 21, no.

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