Saint Vincent’s Reading List XXV: The Tridentine Reforms in France

Council of Trent. Extraict de plusieurs articles du Concile de Trente: contraires aux droicts des roys de France, libertez de l’Eglise gallicane, privuileges & exemptions des chapitres, monasteries, & communautez. [Paris: de l’Imprimerie Royale], 1615.
Call Number: SpC. 262.52 C855e1615


Extraict de plusieurs articlesFrance was the last Roman Catholic country in Europe to accept the reforms of the Council of Trent.  This long delay can be attributed to several factors.  In the second half of the sixteenth century the kingdom was wracked by decades of religious and political civil wars which only ended with the edict of Nantes and the accession and conversion of Henry IV.  The new Bourbon monarch wanted to re-establish France as a pre-eminent continental power and realized that rebuilding the French kingdom also meant rebuilding and reforming the French Church.

Even during the sessions of the Council from 1546 to 1564 the French kings and Church had been very reserved in their reaction to the council and its activities. This was founded on their suspicions that the implementation of the reforms could result in a diminishment of the traditional “liberties” and independence of the Gallican Church as enshrined in the Concordat of Bologna of 1516.

The French devots, long dedicated to the reform and revitalization of the French Church were eager to move forward.  In the first years of the regency of Marie de Medici the monarchy and the French Church finally accepted the Tridentine reforms. However, they did so with the condition that these reforms would in no way be allowed to impinge on any of the traditional Gallican liberties and independence enjoyed by France.

This volume printed, by the royal press, clearly sets out those provisions of the Tridentine decrees which France found unacceptable.  This compromise unleashed the pent-up reform forces within the kingdom, and was acceptable to the papacy.  It was also very successful.

Vincent de Paul’s activities as a Tridentine-reformer took place within this system of Gallican reservation.


St. Vincent’s Reading List is recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by St. Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and important works published during his lifetime (1581-1660). All materials discussed are held by DePaul’s Special Collections and Archives. The entire series may be viewed here.

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