Friday, September 9, 2022

Dynamics of Restoration after Napoleon

Restorative movement across Western Europe after 1815

In 1815, with Napoleon’s banishment to a small rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the crowned heads of Europe heaved a tremendous collective sigh of relief. They also created with one another an alliance they called holy to restore Christian society and culture to its imagined pre-revolutionary purity. In societal terms, they recreated the Inquisition and the Jesuits. Culturally, they restored the Index of Prohibited Books.

Restoration in Gallia

Even in Gallia, the Bourbon monarchy was restored after Napoleon’s exile. Louis 18th (1755-1824, r. >1815) ruled in place of his slain brother Louis 16th (1754-93, r. >1774), the Revolutionary Convention, and the emperor Napoleon. Yet, unlike Louis 16th, the new king ruled as part of a constitutional monarchy. When his younger brother Charles 10th (1757-1836, r. 1824-30) became king, he strove to restore pre-Revolutionary French society and culture. His efforts backfired and he had to flee to England.

Church-State relations: seesaw of hostility and cooperation

Beginning with Charles and continuing for decades, different social groups in France pursued divergent understandings of the right relationship between Church and State. Periods of mutual hostility and cooperation followed one another in quick succession.

When hostile, the State would exalt social equality at the expense of the Latin Christian hierarchy, knowledge through reason at the expense of knowledge on the basis of authority, and the scientific method rather than divine revelation as the source of truth.

When cooperative, the State would exalt a Church hierarchy that supported the State hierarchy, taught the people all they needed to know about living as obedient servants of their betters, and served as faithful guardian of a submissive Church tradition.

But whether hostile or cooperative, the State remained the dominant partner in the relationship.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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